Desi Monster. Declare Void
18 March – 18 April, 2010
by Monica Casanova
On Chrystie Street , we stumbled into a bar called Home Sweet Home with the same address as the art show next door. A diorama with two stuffed ferrets fighting a snake caught our eyes on the way in. Stuffed animals adorned the walls behind the bar and in a glass case surrounding it.
Realizing that the half empty bar was not the location for Desi Monster’s first solo show, we exited to discover Envoy Enterprises next door, where a couple of black hooded ninjas greeted us, opening two miniature coffins containing: a.) a leather mask designed for a human duck; b.) a three inch high black swastika with a hole in the middle.
A fruity retinue of art afficianados were milling about, while two inflatable black vinyl sculptures hung over wall to wall red carpeting.
An ebony clad Desi Monster held court.
Known for his over-the-top monster get- ups during a lucrative stint as a club kid, Desi Monster, 37, obtained a master’s degree in fine arts from Bard. Together with Viva Ruiz he now forms the NYC based dance group Escandalo.
Most recently, Michael Jackson commissioned a series of the artist’s masks in anticipation of his “This Is It” tour.
Since the early nineties, Desi Santiago’s art has been strongly influenced by subcultural scenes. A visual and performance artist, his large-scale installations often involve performative and theatrical platforms, richly layered with philosophical, historical and social references.
“Declare Void” includes a small shrine of six black French-polished wooden boxes and two inflatable sculptures. Embracing the symbolic and iconic, Monster’s work creates truly ceremonial experiences.
The six monolithic boxes, each containing their own power, seem to symbolize the automotive black boxes that record data during a crash. Two of the boxes are empty (having once contained the inflatable sculptures) while the other four contain objects that can be viewed upon request. By keeping the boxes closed, Mr. Monster challenges the viewers conflicting emotions of curiosity and fear of its contents. The challenge is heightened when the viewer must request the boxes to be opened.
By placing a plastic Star Trek cup carefully between the artist’s bronzed baby shoes (all three filled with Goya rice,) Monster presents the adult world as one of mystery while also conjuring up an intimate shrine that represents his family. Juxtaposing the intimate and the monumental, two black, large-scale inflatable sculptures command the space.
A seven foot tall shape-shifting shaman, representing “the child” stands facing a six and a half foot tall suspended female head with crystalled earrings, which represents “the mother.”
The choice of material reflects the artist’s desire to breathe life into subjects whose lives have been lost.