Review by Ru Hockley
We are talking about power. The remote but keenly felt powers of religion and government over the lives of individuals. The more immediate, interpersonal powers of man over woman, parent over child, majority over minority, young over old, rich over poor, the reverse of all these and a plethora of other options and configurations beside. It surrounds us and divides us, inescapable in its omnipresence. I am in Suzanne Wright’s studio, and we are talking about power.
Suzanne is telling me about particle accelerators and quantum theory. We may soon be able to explain the inexplicable phenomena of the universe, the dark matter holding the stars in the sky and our feet on the ground. Our very physical presence affects and changes what we see, she tells me. You standing there in front of that Galactic Glory Hole see it differently than I do; perhaps the colors are more brilliant to your eye, perhaps you see colors and shapes that I do not. What I see for certain is the claiming of the glory hole, the subversive humor inherent in reducing its diameter to that of a finger or an eye. It is no longer exclusionary, no longer strictly a boys’ club. My eye, drawn in by the elusive opening and successive planes, swirls in the vortex of colors. Hung on a wall the promise of a warm body on the other side is lost, but still, there is something through there.
We talk about Wanda Sykes’ “detachable pussy.” At home, I watch Sykes and it is hilarious as promised, but also deadly serious. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our pussies were detachable?” Wouldn’t it, indeed. So much freedom, you could do anything (without your pussy). But then again… then again. What of the things you can do with your pussy, your fierce pussy? I do not want to detach my pussy; I want it to not be a potentially dangerous liability, which is to say I want the world to be different. I want people to be different. I want power to topple or expand, and the pressure of the pussy to be lifted. I think Suzanne wants this too. She is forging a third way, though. It is neither the starkness of a complete renunciation of that which makes you vulnerable, nor a complete embrace of the powerful other side—the masculine, the strong, the impenetrable. A hybrid existence that inhabits the middle ground, that refutes the binary and is neither subject to domination nor dominating. It is the push-and-pull of this place that defines Suzanne’s work. If absolute power corrupts absolutely then perhaps the answer (if there is one) is to be found on this middle path, this way that wanders between the powerful and the powerless.