DICKINSON ROUNDELL’S DOMESTIC EVIL
By Elizabeth Patterson
The domesticity of women is something we are all familiar with. Women are expected to be confined to the home, submissive, docile creatures that only think of cleaning, cooking, and motherhood. A new exhibit titled Domestic Evil wants to peel back the expectations of such a life and take a look at the sometimes-dark effect underneath.
Domestic Evil features a variety of works from a range of artists that somehow relate back to traditionally female practices in the home. A series of sculptures of bottles of household items like detergent, bleach and drain cleaner by Oksana Todorova are crafted out of ceramic. But they come with a dark side, as each of these bottles is accompanied by a similarly branded, matching cup. Likewise, a plastic bag comes with the idea of grocery shopping, but the contents are a bottle of vodka.
Also featured are needlepoint works by Elsa Hansen. But you won’t find any “home sweet home” signs or kitten creations. The needlepoint features tongue-in-cheek images or pop culture references, a substantial deviation from traditional, or acceptable, needlepoint work. One such piece features the Nike logo below the goddess Nike, a humorous contrast of the cultural evolution between meanings.
A last section of work features jewelry and dinnerware, once again by Todorova. The jewelry, far from being adorned with gems, instead is comprised of strange trimmings like shrimp or a hand. The dinnerware also comes with its own twist, made with dangerous spikes on the exterior, making it uncomfortable to use, or lined along the rim with teeth.
Beyond the subject of the artwork, the material is also a poignant statement on domesticity and the requirements women are expected to live up to. The sculptures are made out of cermaic, a traditionally feminine practice, and the needlepoint pieces speak for themselves. The whole show combines beautifully to represent a multi-layered work on the heavy burden gender roles impose on women, and the ways in which women are both drowned by them and fighting against them. You can see Domestic Evil for yourself until October 23 at Dickinson Roundell in New York.