PAUL McCARTHY cont.>
In the 80s, construction began to the serve as the basis for much of McCarthy's art. He started incorporating large-scale, epic-sized sculptures into his pieces that were every bit as complex -- and perverse -- as his performances. Initially, these pieces were structuralist in approach, the distillation of a single gesture or act, yet rendered in three-dimensions. There was the full-scale, animatronic sculpture of "Cultural Gothic" (1992), which featured a young boy happily fucking a goat while his father goads him on; and the artist's gigantic masterpiece, "The Garden" (1991-1992), currently making a comeback at Deitch Projects, which featured two life-sized men lost in a life-sized forest making dispassionate love to a tree and a mound of dirt respectively.
Since then McCarthy's work has increased in scale and complexity, often including highly complex, computerized systems, remote controls and radio technology. "I'm really interested in Disney-esque ideas," he explains, "the whole idea of mechanized buildings or characters as sculptural forms. The idea of a controlled Shangri-La, a commodity world where people enter to be manipulated really interests me. I enjoy deconstructing those elements of control in places like Disneyland."
McCarthy strives to work on an epic plane, and when asked to describe his ultimate dream work -- a work that would provide him with unlimited resources, fabricators and/or settings -- he smiles and chuckles to himself momentarily. "I guess I'd want to play with the same tools that Disney had," he says. "I'd like to do a theme park. Someone asked me about that the other day. They said, 'Is there anything more fucked up than a theme park?' And I thought, no, not really. I mean, it incorporates all those things: manipulation, utopias, pedagogy. What more could I ask for?"
"The Box," 590 Madison Ave. at 56th St., (212) 980-4575. Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Free. Through April 20. "The Garden," Deitch Projects, 18 Wooster St., (212) 343-7300. Tues.-Sat., 12 noon-6 p.m. Free. Through April 7. "Santa Chocolate Shop," Luhring Augustine, 531 E. 24th St., (212) 206-9100. Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Free. Through April 7.
Paul Young is a freelance journalist based in Los Angeles. His book, LA Exposed: Strange Myths and Curious Legends in the City of Angels, will be released this fall on St. Martin's Press.
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