On view in four adjacent galleries, E. V. Day’s exhibition is a survey of her work in sculpture and printmaking from the last ten years. Harnessing the power of popular culture icons like Barbie, Marilyn Monroe, the thong, and Hugh Hefner, she has created a utopian environment in these spaces that is boundless and brimming with possibility. Caught in a perpetual state of motion and transformation, Day’s work offers a trajectory toward an increasingly androgynous being, more closely related to hybrid bodies of special-effects cinema and science fiction.

For the last decade, Day has built a reputation around work that explores cultural fetishism and the interplay of desire, fantasy, and popular culture. The artist is probably best known for her Exploding Couture series, in which evening gowns—cut into hundreds of pieces and suspended in midair—seem caught in violent explosions. For Bombshell, Day commissioned a seamstress to create a scaled-up version of the dress Marilyn Monroe wore in the iconic scene from the 1955 movie The Seven Year Itch, approximating the larger-than-life quality of the screen image. The eroticized image of the actress’s struggle to keep the billowing skirt from exposing her underwear is, in Day’s sculpture, dissolved into an effective image of transformation, alluring and empowering all at once. A similar dissolution of the voyeuristic gaze takes place in Transporter, in which a sequined evening dress seems to be melting into an infinite column of light. Appropriating imagery from Star Trek, the sculpture lures the viewer into the realm of science-fiction fantasy, introducing the possibility of female pleasure by turning a formerly fetishistic fashion item into an object of empowerment. Day employs similar strategies in Launch Pad, Dissected Wetsuit, and Crimson Wave, in which thongs and other types of lingerie are suspended in a fighter-jet shape, tautly strung on wire, or covered with oozing resin. Day explores the meeting of technology and nature with a sense of humor, which directly places her work within the realm of popular culture.

Andrea Inselmann
Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art