Central to From Her Wooden Sleep… is a remarkable and unique collection of over 150 wooden artists’ manikins assembled by the artist over 20 years. Ranging in date from 1520 to 1930 and in scale from palm-size to life-size, the manikins in the central gallery surround a lone figure nakedly exposed to their collective gaze. The intense scenario casts viewers as outsiders—or, at least, as bystanders—in a society defined by some basic characteristics they do not share. From Her Wooden Sleep… continues Hendeles’s exploration of difference and diversity, and the way representation and distortion, appropriation and assimilation can filter group and individual identities.
The title of the exhibition is taken from Florence K. Upton’s best-selling 1895 children’s book, The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a ‘Golliwogg,’ about the nocturnal Christmas Eve adventures of two wooden peg dolls and the first black protagonist in English picture books. Created and named by Upton, Golliwogg became a much-loved character despite his relationship to prevalent racial stereotypes acceptable at the time. Only the teddy bear eclipsed his far-reaching popularity, and his celebrity even bridged the divide between popular culture and high art in the ‘Golliwogg’s Cakewalk,’ the most popular movement in Claude Debussy’s Children’s Corner suite. In the mid-20th century, however, the character became a controversial symbol of racism, his very name used as a racist slur. In this revised staging of From Her Wooden Sleep…, the Golliwogg figure is the secular starting point for Hendeles’s pointed presentation of the way shared values and belief systems play out in cultural and social dynamics—for better and for worse.
Open May 25th 2016 until October 24th 2016
Curator: Suzanne Landau