Two television sets on the floor were painted pink and peach, respectively, and were oriented toward each other but not facing, like two people on the sidelines of a party, talking but also watching the rest of the room. Each TV wears a painted pattern of thick stripes that stretches around the entire set and converges at the middle of the screen in a black shape with an empty circle at its center. Though the patterns at first look abstract, they are actually cartoonish illustrations of strap-on harnesses; the circles indicate where dildos would be inserted.
In solo and collaborative installations over the years, and in performances as the band Tracy + The Plastics (1999- 2006), Wynne Greenwood has toyed with various levels of overtness in declaring her queerness and feminist politics. In this show, titled “Strap-On TVs,” she both presented the sculptures (Strap-On From Memory and Strap-On From Website, both 2010), which were the only pieces on display, and appeared along- side them in several performances.
Short loops of silent video are visible through the painted patterns on the screens. The footage features objects a table, a cushion and a record player each situated so that it forms a V on the screen, implying a female crotch “wearing” the strap-on harness. Sexualized TV bodies are the subject of Greenwood’s longtime collaboration with Brooklyn artist K8 Hardy. The two have made feminist news segments, one of them broadcast from the unconventional location of a bathtub, and another in which they discuss women’s objectification while cameras are trained not on their faces but on their exposed genitalia. If women’s bodies are typically strapped in by mass-mediated cultural norms, Greenwood proposes the alternatives made possible by strapping on.
During the run of the show, Greenwood conducted interviews with three artists (independent filmmaker/musician Kanako Wynkoop, drag performer/comic artist Ellery Russian and painter/writer Matthew Offenbacher). Greenwood and her interlocutor sat on low stools. Works by the interviewees were on view, and the audience crowded into a corner, seated on the floor at the same level as the TV sets.
These conversations turned what is normally a two-way encounter between audience and artist into an exploratory threesome. Moreover, Greenwood used her time in the spotlight to direct attention to her peers. Wynkoop and Greenwood discussed power dynamics in families and workplaces, in bands and on film sets.
While they agreed that power-sharing is an ideal they find hard to live up to, Greenwood demonstrated, in this show, one way to make it happen.
Photo: View of Wynne Greenwood’s exhibition “Strap-On TVs,” 2010; at Lawrimore Project.