Whether they realize it or not, most people are accustomed to seeing the female body compartmentalized. In an advertisement, a movie scene or an art piece, we see an isolated shot of an anonymous bare thigh here, a close-up of sultry lips there. Brooklyn-based ceramicist Jessica Stoller takes this objectification over the top, to the point of puzzlement and even repulsion, in her current show, “Spoil,” at PPOW Gallery in New York. Her ornate, hand-built porcelain figures satirize the typical ways femininity is portrayed.
The isolated pieces in the show come together as a gluttonous feast as body parts mix with sweets. Breasts are splayed out on dishes like scoops of melting ice cream. Ornate porcelain ribbons — achieved by firing liquid clay — pile up as demonstrations of sheer excess. Stoller alludes to the 18th century, particularly to the aesthetic of Marie Antoinette, perhaps to demonstrate the ways antiquated views of womanhood persist today. Though some of the works in the show are erotic and enticing, others — like the bust of a woman with what looks like a botched nose job or the two-headed figure with burnt-looking eyes — make one second guess this initial feeling of attraction. A visual frenzy, the detailed artworks in “Spoil” make the viewer conscious of the ways femininity continues to be equated with the physicality of the female body, prompting us to search for something deeper.
Jessica Stoller’s “Spoil” is on view at PPOW Gallery through February 8.