I have never felt so uneasy visiting an exhibition before; Bjarn Melgaard’s haunting displays of tormented, psychosomatic issues fill every inch of Luxembourg & Dayan Gallery. As soon as I opened the door I found myself in a grotesque living room colorfully decorated with hundreds of copies of Melgaard’s new novel cleverly titled, “A New Novel.” I was so disoriented upon entering this densely-packed, nightmarish atrium that I thought I’d actually stumbled into the wrong gallery, or at the very least intruded on some of Melgaard’s more perverse thoughts. Turns out this was all just foreplay for what was to come.
Torture and Snuff Films find their way into an Exhibition
Hidden among the wreckage of this sadomasochistic madness are miniature scenes of rape, BDSM torture, and other highly detailed scenes of sexual depravity; while at first glance they seem disgusting and upsetting, the fact that they’re all acted out by tiny little dolls stuck in what you’d imagine are some pretty compromising positions is actually somewhat amusing. In fact, I couldn’t help positioning myself behind one of the dolls because she appeared to be in a perfect prom pose (I never got my perfect prom picture from high school so I had to seduce one of Melgaards dolls to get it – if only she’d put out!). I got the indication that there was a bit of humor injected into these scenes on some level – or at least I could only hope – but then I reached the next floor of Melgaard’s exhibit and nearly lost my lunch. On a small television playing on repeat was a short film in which one of these disturbing scenes is animated so that its verisimilitude was unavoidable – even with very “fake” characters, this horrific snuff film seemed very real.
NYC-APS writer Eric Rydin poses with a mannequin at Bjarne Melgaard’s exhibition at Luxembourg & Dayan Gallery.
The artwork on every single floor gave me an incredibly uneasy feeling. I felt more like I was taking an involuntary tour of the different levels of Dante’s Inferno than I was taking a leisurely stroll through an art gallery. Even the brightly colored third floor that hosts a series of paintings I thought I could identify myself with, proved to unearth feelings of sickness and nausea.
But despite the gruesome scenes of sex and violence, I would have to strongly recommend a visit to Melgaard’s exhibit, as it forces you to confront certain feelings about art, sex, and society. We often avoid these subjects and other difficult topics of conversation in real life, but Melgaard literally surrounds us with them so that they’re inescapable. And even though the entire exhibit seems to be more of a publicity stunt for the release of his new book than anything else, Melgaard succeeds in the respect that it brings the topic to the forefront of every conversation – in the gallery, in his book, and now lurking in the back of your mind.
- Luxembourg & Dayan Gallery “A New Novel” Bjarne Melgaard Exhibition – November 9th 2012 – January 19th 2013 (Price of Artwork: NYC-Artparasites.com estimates $5,000 – 40,000).