gym

GYM

LET'S

WORK

IT OUT

 

Chi-Wen Gallery

3 December 2016 - 7 January 2017

 

Kray Chen (Singapore)

Becket Flannery (USA)

Luo Jr-Shin (Taiwan)

Wright & Vandame (UK)

Yu Cheng-Ta

& Solutions (Taiwan)

Yu Guo (China)

 

curated by Kit Hammonds

 

 

Gym, Let’s Work it Out is a group exhibition exploring how masculinity is forged in contemporary societies. Taking the gym as a mise-en-scene it presents contemporary art by emerging artists whose work engages the male body in relation to various apparatuses that are used to mould it - be they mechanical or political. Pushed outside of its natural state, this exhibition puts forward the masculine as equally aspirational and grotesque, engendering psychological notions of success, competition and power in normative societies that are increasingly open to question. The Gym is a metaphor for the social spaces in which these ideologies are shaped, one that is as erotic and queer as it is utilitarian and conservative.

 

Kray Chen’s video Exercise now and fit a standard size coffin later, re-enacts the fitness regime he experienced during compulsory military service in Singapore. As the title suggests, the exercises are part of a process of de-individualisation aimed at effecting the standardisation of the social body through the physical one. In contrast, Becket Flannery’s costume based on the torso of Olympic Champion Michael Phelps presents the dysmorphic ’swimming machine’ modelled through genetics and drive to achieve. Luo Jr-Shin’s assemblages incorporate symbolic masculine elements including scent and bathroom paraphernalia as a medium through which to present an ambiguous 'metrosexuality'. Wright & Vandame’s three-channel video montage of exercise videos from the 1980s to the present is an analysis of the often camp, and deluded drive for physical perfection. Yu Cheng-Ta & Solutions’ collaboration Booth Untitled features an exercise machine and a video promoting an ambiguous piece of equipment whose (male) voice offers itself up as ‘whatever you want me to be'. Originally conceived as a parodic commentary on Art Basel as a trade fair, it is presented here as a supplicant reverse of affirmative desire.