WE’RE WITNESSING STEWART UOO'S BIG BREAK, AND IT HASN'T REALLY BEEN A LONG TIME COMING. AT 27, UOO’S WORK CAN BE FOUND IN GALLERIES AROUND THE WORLD, AND MOST RECENTLY, THE WHITNEY MUSEUM. CALIFORNIA-NATIVE BROOKLYNITE UOO WENT FROM DESIGNING AND HOSTING THE POPULAR ROVING PARTY, "XTAPUSSY," TO A SOLO BOOTH AT FRIEZE: FRAME WITHIN A MATTER OF MONTHS. AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO ISN'T HUGE. UOO TRANSFORMS A SPACE INTO AN OPEN-ENDED DISCUSSION ON POPULAR AESTHETICS, MEME CULTURE AND FASHION MERCHANDIZING, WHETHER IT'S A BROOKLYN LOFT, A DOWNTOWN GALLERY, AN ISLAND ART FAIR, OR UPTOWN IN HIS AND JANA EULER'S WHITNEY SHOW: “OUTSIDE INSIDE SENSIBILITY”
In the program for “Outside Inside Sensibility” Jay Sanders describes Uoo’s sculptural figures (part of a larger series called No Sex, No City) as “a porous medium to be built up and broken down simultaneously: the body is represented as a synthetic relic of identity fashioned in equal measures by commercial, technological, and trend-driven interests.” The work here at the Whitney certainly is trend-driven. Each piece’s title (every bust represents a main character from the popular HBO show) invites us to make a connection between the memory of an exaggerated version of a realistic scenario in New York, and the real-life way this city is now navigated. How would each of these characters truly live in the real City, and how would that change if they were to time-travel a decade into the future? What are we to make of the avatar-status of these female names, and their relationships to the way sex is viewed in popular culture? I spoke with Uoo about the implications of the post-apocalyptic Carries and Charlottes, inspired in part by Patricia Field’s store windows.
So, I tried to guess which sculptures represented which characters, and I was mostly right, but it isn't obvious. Can you talk more about what these iterations of each woman mean?
Stewart Uoo: They function as a departure point for the archetype of metropolitan women. They are a clique because they confide in each other. Since they are characters in a franchise, I'm borrowing them for another narrative. I imagine they would function as stand-ins for the viewer. I like the way, in looking at them, it's similar to how one may view mannequins or people in department stores, or on the street. Up and down and around.
Are they sort of exaggerated versions of particular traits in each character?
SU: Some stylistic traits were ascribed. I tried to stay loyal to those traits with each character. But deviations occurred in ethnicity, style, and other identity indications. I think overall, there is abstraction.
Did you want the pieces to represent a New York feeling, or is the "city" not specific?
SU: Of course I'm inspired by all my friends, acquaintances, strangers, etc, in NYC, but the city is not specific in this narrative. No City, meaning an interchangeable City. A fictive city. Any ruined city left after mayhem.