This summer I found myself showing off New England’s beacon city to a few friends from home who had never been to the land of Paul Revere, the Freedom Trail, and clam chowder. My tour of Boston eventually led to the ICA to tour the current exhibits, workworkworkworkwork by Charles LeDray and Dr. Lakra by Jerónimo López Ramírez (aka Dr. Lakra).
LeDray’s exhibit displays breathtakingly intricate small-scale replicas mainly consisting of outfits and wardrobes, hats and suits. Tiny magazines can also be found in the display, adding to the realism of the identities formed within this miniature exhibit. The collection also contains tiny hand painted pottery, and sculptures crafted out of some frightening materials.
Though LeDray usually refrains from much explanation of his work, leaving the ultimate meaning up to the viewer, Mens Suits, the portion of the exhibit displaying tiny ensembles and work attire, has a very prominent theme. The suits, ties, replicated closets, trousers, and polo shirts all tie together to form masculine identity. LeDray’s representation of the work attire makes it seem very empty, arbitrary, and insignificant. While incredibly detailed and planned down to every last visible stitch, matching bowtie, and cufflink, the outfits in Mens Suits all seem very comical in their proportions. This portion of his display took LeDray three years of full-time work to complete.
Another part of the exhibit, Milk and Honey (1994-1996) consists of thousands of ceramic, painted vases, teapots, and other canisters. Many of them are not much larger than a thimble and have been painted with designs and embellishments. These miniature dishes stand side by side in layers in a tall, glass pillar, giving the viewer a 360 degree view of LeDray’s incredible attention to detail.
Some of the most perplexing and frankly creepy parts of the exhibit were the figures carved out of human bone. Yes, you read that correctly. Detailed, tiny replicas of pale white sat under glass cubes. One is a model of the solar system complete with thin arms of bone stretching out to each planet, holding it in place around the central sphere of the sun. Each of these small replicas is completely hand carved, and the detail is impeccable.
The painstakingly details and precise replicas in LeDray’s exhibit make this a must see. workworkworkworkwork will remain up until October 17th.
The other exhibit on display at the ICA this summer which ran until September 6th was Dr. Lakra, an incredibly eclectic representation of many facets of pop culture that makes many statements about political, sexual, and racial representations in many different cultural spheres, including Chicano, Maori, Thai, and Filipino.
The man behind the name of the exhibit, Jerónimo López Ramírez, is a renown tattoo artist who lives and works in Oaxaca, Mexico. His work steps across the boarders of many taboo subjects such as pornography, religion, and politics, making Dr. Lakra a very controversial yet comical exhibit. This was also the artist’s first solo showing in the U.S.
In few displays will you find old-fashioned buxom pinups and Catholic priests marked up with Swastikas, gang symbols, daemons, serpents, and classic tattoo script. Mexican Federation Wrestling posters are adorned with Mexican-inspired skulls and other themes of Dia de los Muertos.
A beautiful model in “Sin título / Untitled (Retrato de mujer con calaca),” 2007 smiles blankly as half of her face is now depicted down to the bone, her teeth showing through completely on one side.
Dr. Lakra is very much an arena for both the artist and his commentary, allowing his varied style and opinions to meld together across boundaries of forbidden topics and eras in pop culture history.
Though this exhibit it no longer on display, I highly encourage anyone to become acquainted with the art of Dr. Lakra.
Next time you’re in Boston with $10 to spare and nothing better to do, don’t forget about the ICA. It’s sure to overwhelm you with artistic variety.
Upcoming exhibitions include Mark Bradford’s self-titled display of collaged paintings, sculpture, and video depicting city life. Using found objects and real life traces of the inhabitants of the city of Los Angeles, Bradford recreates the metropolis’ identity.