Lorenza Longhi “World of Yum Yum” at Swiss Institute, New York

By Last Updated: February 21, 2024Views: 39

“World of Yum Yum” is the primary solo exhibition within the US by artist Lorenza Longhi, that includes newly commissioned work and sculptures in a site-specific set up. By way of architectural interventions and a visible language that enlists each methods of luxurious promoting, merchandising and commerce, together with craft and DIY strategies, Longhi’s work considers areas of show and the needs they engender. Taking its inspiration from a short lived exhibition area that Longhi encountered in an airport, “World of Yum Yum” includes a sequence of hyperreal closeups of synthetic hand-made flowers, harking back to Chanel brooches, on movable panels that cling from tracks on the ceiling. Showing as blown-up images pasted like posters and silk-screened with overlay patterns of flower outlines and dots, every brooch’s middle holds a spy digital camera that peeps outwards.

“Rigorously talking, nobody desires to be topic of the gaze, all of us need to be fabulous objects,” critic Rhonda Lieberman writes in a 1992 essay entitled The Loser Factor. “Commodities promise to elevate and separate folks from emotions of inadequacy and unloveliness, however they’ll additionally betray us, give us soiled appears, and make us really feel unworthy of them.” 1 The eyes of the camellias affixed to Longhi’s panels can shift inside the hanging equipment, opening new areas and gaps for visibility or escape. Whereas some stare straight, others give a side-eye squint. Let’s get private, they appear to recommend. Lieberman’s Glamour Wounds column, written two months later, on Coco Chanel, her model and the demoralizing expertise of visiting the Chanel boutique, or as she describes it, “the world of yum-yum: a store filled with dazzling absurd phalluses totally outfitted to beam you up and prevent,” examines the impulse for masochistically figuring out with these luxurious objects and discovering aid via the enjoyment of degradation from their indifference. Failure to change into the commodity, she writes, “is unimaginable to represent; you may solely circle round it in interpretative impotence. Or purchase it, if attainable.” 2

The flowers portrayed in Longhi’s pictures are precise sculptures, every containing a working digital camera. She constructs them herself from scrap material she has discovered or collected by following YouTube directions for making Chanel camellias. For this exhibition, the small flower sculptures have been photographed by Longhi together with two skilled photographers and enlarged considerably. The standard of the pictures varies relying on the photographer’s eye and digital camera. Some are crisp, whereas others are clean, muddy, or poor, resembling AI-generated pictures. Longhi’s major curiosity will not be photographic constancy, however moderately the proximity and texture of the floor of the objects, their materiality. The proof of their non-public act of constructing takes priority.

Longhi used the spy digital camera’s microphone to document atmospheric sounds of music as she strolled via malls in Zürich, the place she lives, and New York. She moreover positioned a number of audio system taking part in numerous pop songs all through her studio and residence, and recorded the panoply of shifting soundtracks as she walked previous them with the identical spy machine. A mixture of the ensuing audio performs within the exhibition on directional audio system positioned inside wall-mounted bins which can be coated in florist’s kraft paper, in addition to reproductions of the identical paper, and printed silkscreen mesh she beforehand used for the work. Passing by, it nearly appears like buying.

at Swiss Institute, New York
till April 14, 2024

1    Rhonda Lieberman, “The Loser Factor,” Artforum, September 1992, p. 80.
2    Rhonda Lieberman, “Glamour Wounds: The Chanel Superego,” Artforum, November 1992, p. 6.


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