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Susan Bozic, He’s so thoughtful, it was’t even my birthday, 2006
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Evan Tyler, Non-resistance , 2009
SUSAN BOZIC and EVAN TYLER Quixotic at Gallery West (1172 Queen Street West) to May 30th ( 416 913-7116). See listing. Rating: NNN
Evan Tyler has a thing for manikins and Jennifer Hudson. That much is clear from his Contact show, which includes a collection of his manikin images and those of photographer Suzan Bozic.
Bozic's photographs are social commentary and playful hijinks. She photographs herself on dream dates with her artificial man, a manikin named Carl, who resembles a chiseled leading man from a thirties musical. She photographs them as couple on dream dates, enjoying a movie, tennis match or canoodling on the sofa.
The titles are pure camp, such as "He let me pick the movie", with her beaming away in romantic adoration.
It's a lot like watching the dowager from Hitchock's Rear Window setting up her elaborate and imaginary dinner dates for one in her living room: an achingly wistful combination of artfulness, imagination and loneliness.
Both Bozic and Tyler are interested in the relationships - real or implied - that they have cultivated with their artificial companions.
Tyler, whose images occupy the back gallery, noticed his first manikin when walking quickly past a store in Northern Europe and stopped, believing he had seen a beauty. "After I stopped and realized she wasn't a real person the idea for a new project was born."
Tyler works with Swedish manikins, who are far more life-like and carefully rendered than their American counterparts, and occasionally modeled on actual women.
Tyler has a personal collection of these manikins, and refers to them as My Girls.
He photographs them in discreet public poses where their status as merchandising items, people or objects of longing are distinctly blurred. Through his lens they appear to be slightly misplaced ingénues or leading ladies from forgotten thrillers. The implied humanity and relationship is very much part of the point.
He also takes them out for spa treatments, as his photographs in the back of the gallery show.
His requirements that his manikins be treated as clientele were strict. "It's really important that the estheticians understood that they were to treat them respectfully, as if they were real women," he says.
Tyler's work is not merely concerned with the fetishization or idealization of unreal women. He also is fast at work on becoming best friends with Jenifer Hudson, one of his idols. He's given himself until the end of the year.