Beautiful Mutants

Filed under: Art Reviews — doktorjohn September 4, 2004 @ 3:00 am

Prints by Mark Mothersbaugh

The Fuse Gallery in NYC’s East Village has a definite tradition of presenting the collected works of rock-scene personalities who delve into the visual arts. Fans of wacky New Wavers, Devo, may be surprised—or maybe not—to view the collected art of front man and founder, Mark Mothersbaugh. The exhibit, titled Beautiful Mutants, is running until September 4th at the famed gallery’s location deep inside the Lit Lounge at 93 2nd Avenue.
Mothersbaugh, who hails from exotic Akron, Ohio, and whose weird and ground-breaking, if not very musical band once shocked and bewildered rock fans with jerky, mind-numbing rants like “Whip It” and “Jocko Homo,” has tested his quirky aesthetic sensibility on altering antique photographs. He reports that he was influenced by Rorschach imagery, as you recall, ink blots folded to create those familiar, symmetric stains on paper.

Taking advantage of modern techniques Mothersbaugh alters antique photos, mainly of young people, splitting them down some arbitrary midline and then seamlessly adding the mirror image on the other half of the print. Any tilt of the subject creates a bizarre asymmetry in the final mirror-reflected and conjoined image-halves. Thus the once beautiful child undergoes mutation into a pinhead, or a Cyclops, a multiple-limbed spider-figure, or a disturbing, humanoid abstract design.

The opening night reception was packed with a concentration of New York cognoscenti including hipsters, artists and collectors from both the avant-garde art and rock music scenes, not to mention devoted fans of the band Devo, who had just performed on Central Park’s Summer Stage the previous night.