Leslie Friedman at Napoleon

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Napoleon, a recent addition to Philadelphia’s bustling artist-run gallery scene, has once again provided an exciting print show. This month, Leslie Friedman‘s installation, Tasty opened with a sensual frenzy.

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A polemic of a print installation, Tasty pounces on ones visual sensibilities the moment you enter the intimate gallery space. Friedman has a virtuous ability with screen printing, and she deploys it ruthlessly here, with a pallet of high-key colors reminiscent of some kind of a Mentos explosion.

Follow the jump for more images and artful blathering.

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The floor is covered with a larger than life pile of various delivery devices for artificial sweeteners, with sugar substitute packets and cans of soda big enough for a super-sized nation.

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As you enter, the far wall has three banners that read as either the political banners of a fascist sugar substitute movement, or a kind of stop-action depiction of a new form of torture, sugar-boarding.

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The recreation of consumer packaging can’t help but remind one of Warhol’s Brillo Box, but the use of consumer goods as art seems very tactically striking a different chord here, the irony resides not in the question of whether it is art, by rather how and why is it being used here.

The question of what’s at stake in this work does not seem to be a mystery, Friedman, like the flaming sword of our multi-faceted (slow/local/natural/organic) food movement (see Michael Pollan or Mark Bittman if you don’t know what I’m talking about). She is going after the cheap, artificial hollow calories that are readily available and according to most sources not especially healthful, and she is doing it with the subtlety of a hellfire missile. The mix of uber-slick printing and anti-aesthetic choices  combine to create an installation that models its politics: you may find yourself trying to resolve the cognitive dissonance of desire and repulsion.

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Categories: Artwork, Exhibitions


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