Saturday, September 24, 2011

Jennifer Dalton: Cool Guys Like You

At Chelsea’s Winkleman Gallery, Jennifer Dalton gives us her take on gender bias as found in politics and popular media with her fifth solo exhibition Cool Guys Like You (a title which quotes the 1988 cult-film Heathers). With her work, “What does an Important Person Look Like?”, she exposes the Daily Show as a virtual boys’ club, displaying rows of selected archival images of the show’s past guests and color-coding each image’s frame to draw a visual distinction between the obviously less-depicted females and the more-depicted males. Significantly, the men’s frames are gold and the women’s silver, only one of the many subtle touches of indignation against the gender-based imbalance of interest in public figures by the media, in this instance, popular radio and television talk-shows. This imbalance is a theme she deals with in other such works as “To Whose Opinions Am I Listening?” a hand-painted wall-chart, reiterating her claims against the socio-political media outlets in question. I find it interesting that in the act of hand-painting the chart, as well as the use of pencil drawing in other works, Dalton plays on the traditional stigma of women as hand-crafters: painting, drawing, sculpting (in the ‘ceramics’ sense) and otherwise crafting precious objects— kitschy items, decorative relics awash with sentimentality and naivete, ironically reinforcing the notion of women as child-minded, detailed-oriented artists, just as she called out the notion of women as “second class” citizens by giving them "second place" silver frames. Dalton's clever, poignant ways of presenting her data are what pull the show together, affording it a witty and well-articulated, yet ever-so-delicate defiance.


  1. I think you do a wonderful job describing the show and it's discussion of gender bias. However, a part of the show that I found most iterestingthat I think could also be discussed was the attention to the viewer with the hand stamp and the vending machine with tattoos. I think it was important to Dalton that the viewer be able to physically (not just mentally) take something away from the show, but I can't put my finger on why. Perhaps she feels that we too easily forget the implications in the media to do with gender bias, therefore she wants to leave us with a reminder. Or, perhaps, it is just to make the show less serious and more playful. I wonder what you think about this as you present a really ell thought out review of the show.

  2. I defintely agree that those pieces stood out to me because they were interactive, engaging the viewer physically, as if the show were literally leaving its mark on us, while at the same time poking fun at the idea of galleries as shops and art as commodity by employing an exchange of money for goods (the tatoo dispenser). I didn't include those pieces in my discussion because when compared to the other works, they seemed less directly related to the artist's written statement, almost peripheral to it. And you know, 250 words ain't much.