Surrealistically grotesque images made using one’s own body, dolls or other props seem especially well suited to pandemic production. Imagine Hans Bellmer or Cindy Sherman deep in the studio, barely noticing the shutdown of the outside world. Joining these ranks of the uncanny is Corporeal Signal, a series of photographs in which Yi Hsuan Lai interacts with somatic sculptures molded from pale beige Sculpey perfectly matched to her skin tone. Finger extensions-cum-orifices, bulbous knee-nipples, a fleshy and hairy hairbrush, a nose-vagina, and a giant vagina-face unsettle with their suggestion of being able to fulfill the sorts of human needs unmeetable during lockdown, especially for those quarantining solo. Loneliness isn’t caused by COVID-19, mind you, only exacerbated by it. Regardless, the object in “Hand in hands,” held as tenderly as if it were an infant rather than an insectoid eight-pronged blob, can never be more than achingly sad.
—Lori Waxman 2020-07-14 4:36 PM