Lusting Anxiety at Manual Override with Juliana Cerqueira Leite and Zoë Miller.
Manual Override the new exhibition at The Landing Strip in Berlin offers the viewer a moment of lustful anxiety. Juliana Cerqueira Leite and Zoë Miller conjoin effortlessly inside this soft brothel-like interior; pale pearl pink linoleum covers the floor. You are asked to remove your shoes – the guests pad around in socks or bare feet feeling both vulnerable and at home inside the exhibition. The windows are covered in Vaseline, illicitly they hide you from the street but the fingerprints of the person who etched into this petroleum jelly gives the impression they ran their hands over it, caressed it. Turning this household ointment into a fetishized glass lubricant – shyly you look away.
The works on show mix craft with sexual practices and gestures entitled “Ménage à Moi”, “Diving for Pearls” or “Working out at the Y” They all allude to the satisfaction of women knowing how to please themselves. There is eight pieces in total lounging around the room mostly in hues of orange, pink, creams and yellows – candy-like and sweet on the eyes glazen stoneware and chiffon are the primary materials. But throughout the works one sees the repeated motif of a serpent alongside disembodied fingers placed on to the works or impaled into the clayware – they do not seem alien to the works but in such a sexually implicit set up they do make a certain awkward gesture.
One can’t help thinking about the myth of Medusa, who’s hair was turned into a mass of serpents and her eyes were transformed into such a harrowing sight that any onlooker would be turned to stone. This was her punishment for been raped by Poseidon in Athena’s Temple – a horrific injustice as far as she was punished over him which is unfortunately still a very contemporary problem. As far as the inequality offered to women in abusive situations and the lack of reprimand to males who act this out – think the current case of Brock Turner.
Yet you often find the modern-day medusa is seen as an embodiment of female rage by feminists globally her wild eyes destroy her male counterpart and over the centuries she has tamed her serpent mane turning it into a symbol of fierce femininity. Many lust after such a look; the couture fashion label Versace even branded itself on Medusas female archetype through its iconic logo design.
Manual Override seems to be hinting at a rebranded female sexuality one that offers control to its user, self-mastery and ultimate satisfaction in a DIY or Die fashion – reclaiming your own sensuality is ultimately a part of contemporary feminist discourse today.
Text: Penny Rafferty
the landing strip
Juliana Cerqueira Leite & Zoë Claire Miller
September 12 – October 1, 2016