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Suits Richard Metz

Suspended Desire A, 12'x 18'x 8', oil on suits and dresses, beads and branches, wire


Artist statement for

SUSPENDED DESIRE , The Brides and their Bachelors
Richard Metz, 2006

I created Suspended Desire , the Brides and their Bachelors, as an installation for the front window of Maine College of Art in the summer of 2006. The piece is both a new direction and directly refers to The Suits installation which I did for the Painted Bride Art Center in 2004. For the opening of the piece, I created a soundtrack of older songs which amplified the illusions of romantic gender roles, and a dance party so people wouldn’t just be standing around. I included a rack of my other suits and dresses for the gallery patrons to wear for this faux wedding reception.
The piece included seven painted and stuffed suits, and two painted and stuffed wedding gowns. The suits as a painting surface are a conscious choice referring to male power and authority in western society. The images painted on the backs of the suits reflect men in trouble, from drug abuse and egotism, to political burnout and spousal abuse. The suit in the context of corporate culture hides the wounded nature of many men. Inside the suits are small sculptural additions, a burned log, fishhooks, broken light bulbs, to further amplify the damaged nature of these individual characters. While they are humorously portrayed and distorted, the concept of damage is inherent in these mutations.
I chose to pair the images of desire painted on the Bridal gowns with these suits to refer to Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass, the Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even, which is located at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I like Duchamp’s critique of the damaging stereotypical gender roles in contemporary society. Duchamp seems to be saying that these stereotypes, the men, straitjacketed by their role as workers, and the brides, portrayed as absolute desire, lead to sterile culture.
For the past six years I have been working on non traditional surfaces with the intention of taking more responsibility for the way my work is perceived. I have tried to reference raw materials to create a sense of the urgency of a connection with nature. I have used bricks, trees, bark, rocks, and slate. The use of used suits and dresses, while mentioned above, is also about recycling as a methodology. Each surface has its ideology, and for me, canvas, and its reference to the historical function of fine art, is too limiting.

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