NOTE: This exhibition contains depictions of nudity and adult themes. Viewer discretion is advised.
Faun Manne: Tattoo Me!
Faun Manne’s work fascinates and disturbs, in equal measure.
Manne’s figures mimic and mock the figures depicted in early twentieth-century pulp magazines and novels- the beguiling, unsettling blankness of the painted faces calls out the exaggerated fear and vacant desire in the vintage drawings upon which they are based and built. Notably, the eyes of the painted women, while often oriented toward the viewer in a visual marker of aggression, are either blank or purely decorative- glittering rhinestones applied to the canvas in floral patterns typical of textiles. These are not the organs of sight- they are markers of fashion, of adornment.
Still, these are not merely decorative objects. As the original pulp illustrations featured idealized anatomies, Manne’s women are presented as “ideal,” as aspirational bodies. These are not bodies that exist in the world; these are fantastic subjects that become the objects of strange desires, even as they serve to critique the sources, and depictions, of those fantasies.
The force of desire is imprinted on the subject/object’s skin; Manne’s figures are, like Bradbury’s Illustrated Man, canvases for the stories of other people. As we look, we also impose our own ideas of those stories on Manne’s images. We are forced to confront our own act of looking as an act of desire, held in tension by repulsion. The paintings push and pull. We are drawn in by them even as we recoil from their strangeness.
Look. Look away.
Carlye Sina Frank