Get our free newsletter
The debut show in G Fine Art’s new space, Al Miner‘s “Naked,” closes Saturday, so this week is your last chance to see the artist at his barest. A City Lights pick last month outlined Miner’s self portraits—-both of his scarred and scabbed chest following a double mastectomy, and of his face in various states of emotional anguish—- saying “Naked” “is not gruesome, merely discomforting; but the discomfort is surpassed by an impulse to look closer, to lean in. Miner is naked not just in his films and paintings but stripped emotionally bare, at his most vulnerable. Taken into consideration with the portraits opposite the gallery, which show the artist in states of emotional anguish, one sees how resilient our flesh really is—Miner has survived, and the worst is over.”
But just as Miner has figuratively laid himself bare in the paintings, the actual visage of flesh is crucial to Fly 08, Miner’s homage to Yoko Ono‘s 1970 film Fly. In the original, a young woman lies motionless on a bed as flies explore her body, set to the tune of Ono’s experimental soundtrack full of gasps and shrieks. In Miner’s interpretation (which was filmed by Ron Toole), he takes the place of the girl on the bed. The body the flies crawl across is the same one we’ve just witnessed in all of its states of healing.
Like Ono, Miner bred his own flies from larvae, and had to devise a way to get them to stay on his body. Ono gassed hers, which made them drowsy, but Miner instead put them in the freezer for a brief period of time before placing them on his body. Each time, Toole had a few minutes to capture the dazed flies walking across his skin before they would thaw out enough to fly away. Then he’d have to catch them and start all over. The soundtrack to the film is unlike Ono’s—-composed by Richard Chartier, it’s a more meditative, pulsating buzz, but unsettling nonetheless.
Reflecting upon her film, Ono once said, “It’s really obvious that Fly is the statement of a woman, what women go through. It’s interesting that from a male point of view, it’s a totally different film—-it’s about curvature.” Miner is in the unique position to have been able to experience the film from both of these perspectives—-the mastectomy that produced the raw pain of “From There to Here” is the result of a gender reassignment surgery. But Miner’s Fly 08 isn’t about curves, and it isn’t about what a man—-or a woman, for that matter—-goes through. It’s about what a person goes through, whether isolation or desolation, and the ability to persevere through it all.