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"The tradition of ’performing objects’ stretches back to folk theater, religious ceremony and ancient practices," writes "Animas!" curator Janet Riker in the exhibit’s program.

Riker and associate director Meridith McNeal have assembled a wide array of artwork for the Rotunda Gallery’s latest show, all demonstrating the lifelike qualities and possibilities of inanimate objects. Riker was inspired by Obie-award winning Hanne Tierney, of the five myles gallery-performance space in Crown Heights.

Tierney’s piece, excerpts from "Incidental Pieces for Satin and Strength" (1996), is comprised of aluminum, satin ribbons and an intricate pulley system that gallery visitors use to manipulate the movement of the satin ribbons. A spotlight with colored gel gives the ribbons added sparkle (and the darkened room hides their strings).

Christopher Moore’s featured works are also interactive. His series of small sculptures have hand cranks, which visitors turn in order to see metal pieces flap like wings.

Walter Martin and Paloma Munoz’s "Beta Boys," wiry anthropomorphic sculptures made of wire and rubber have heads akin to upside-down punching bags, arms (with white gloved hands) and legs. These characters illustrate that having a big head is a liability - especially when you’re fighting gravity. The top-heavy "boys" can’t seem to lift their heads off the waist-high table, yet when visitors look down upon the struggling figures they’re smiling.

Marina Gutierrez’s "Conjure Dress" (1995) is a haunting assemblage of wire, copper repousse and recycled cans. The dress is topped with a wide, human face, and adorned with copper fingers with long red nails and colorful pictures of fruits cut from tins. Her figure is jarring - not because of what it is - but because of what it’s missing: arms and breasts.

Similarly Michael Lee Poy’s skirt frame is made of wire. Unfortunately, Poy’s sculpture floats high above the gallery’s reception desk and can be missed if a visitor isn’t looking for it. "Coquette, The French Maid" (2001) is shown in a nearby photo being worn by a woman in a parade. In the picture, Poy’s frame is covered with fabric and gives the effect of being caught by the wind.

A highlight of the show is Meredith Allen’s series of photographs depicting melting Popsicle faces. Large C-prints show the colorful ice cream versions of popular animated characters - Tasmanian Devil (pictured) - melt and drip. Their candy eyes leave a trail of smudgy, mascara-like tears. Their running visages are presented against wide natural vistas.

"Animas!" will be on display at 33 Clinton St., through Dec. 29. Call for hours (718) 875-4047.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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