The Anthony Weiner Weiner Collection
One million years and a thin layer of cotton separate a former congressman itching to photograph what lurks beneath, and Homo erectus running through the jungle, his genitals flopping.
In “The Anthony Weiner Weiner Collection,” on display through July 21st, we are asked to follow New York artist Anthony Weiner through an uncut, sexually-charged, erotic journey into his self—and loins.
It’s a myriad of raw self-portraits, drawing from Weiner’s throbbing ego and drawers. But, once we’ve felt his work, like a high-profile tryst splashed on the cover of tabloid rags, there is no satisfaction.
The installation, in a warehouse in Brooklyn, mimics a teenage girl’s bedroom. While guests mingle, the occasional noise of a bird tweeting directs our attention to a photograph projected on one of three 20-foot screens hung from the ceiling.
The first shot, a tame photo titled “Me and the Pussies,” is the only piece with a clear view of the artist’s smug face and fully clothed body. The image transmutes the frame and implores us to join this impromptu couch fling. The daring young man, however, is not without sexual companionship. As if carved on ancient Egyptian stone, next to Weiner are two identically positioned feline companions.
“Bulge” is a hauntingly off-kilter shot that forces us to cock our heads for orientation and avoid falling into the dark expanse between groin and carpet. The Fruit of the Loom boxer briefs—aside from tickling the limits of word play—reveal the subtle edges of Weiner’s manhood.
Peeking out from below a thin layer of cotton, Weiner’s coyly veiled Johnson makes us peer closer and confront our own shortcomings. Presenting like a child entering the ninth month of gestation in womb, the image, clearly the most complex of the collection, confuses by offering a soft, womanly embrace. This is, we must remind ourselves, a nauseatingly pervy middle-aged dong shot.
Following the flawed phallic masterpiece, the “Congressional Gym Series” spins away from emotional crotch shot to more mainstream Internet junk. Highlighted by a MySpace generation picture of Weiner holding his member behind a towel, these photos offer little more than eye-candy.
Exploding with generic masculinity, Weiner’s biceps, triceps, and abdominals pulse through his BlackBerry lens. Here, the artist continues his foreplay with reflections. The camera asks us to stare into the abyss. Weiner stares back.
“For Her” is without question Weiner’s magnum opus. The congressman pulls out from the shadows like a leviathan rising from dark underpants. Unlike the meticulously orchestrated shots in the collection, this is clearly a guerrilla shot of a guerrilla shot of a man’s penis and hairless testicles. Look closely for a subtle poke to his political leanings.
Yet, as Weiner debriefs his intentions, we’re left with more questions than answers. Given the collection is of self portraits, this single image sticks out—is a magician working his naughty wand to snap the picture from an impossible angle and unattainable distance? It’s a premature bout of mediocrity in an exhibit that teased us with potential.
The gallery ultimately suffers from the idea that it is, literally, a Parthenon of crotch shots. Any relationship forged with the former congressman, born on the twin smoldering themes of lust and perversion, climaxes with a single explicit photo. Weiner’s weiner penetrates deep in the psyche, but as a package the exhibit fails to rise above indecent exposure.
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Even as I write this now I am debating whether or not to erase it all together.
When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I love the story I can tell to my next lover, about my ex-lover, about how beautiful things were, how intense, how storybook, what a couple we were, and how you gradually, inexplicably, painfully, bit by bit, disappeared.
“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”
I was 24 and, while not gay, ever since college I had been getting more attention from gay men than from heterosexual women.