Under the umbrella of the taboo, this exhibition covers topics ranging from LGBTI+, the disenfranchised, prostitution, the profane and sexually explicit, slavery, sexual deviancy, domestic violence, rape, poverty, genocide—all those disregarded and ostracized outside of society’s norms. “The Fringe” is a celebration of the tenacity and persistence of those who challenge traditional social models through art, in an attempt to give a voice to the voiceless and direct public attention to a historically underrepresented segment of humankind.

A naked man, wearing only a cloth around his waist, grasps his mother’s arms with both hands with a blank, unassuming facial expression. The distances at which he holds her arms suggests ambiguity in the nature of their relationship, a form of love bordering the incestuous. The Philpot’s Oedipus is characterized by a pale, lightly colored, abstracted background that highlights the foreground figures.
Schiele’s Cardinal and the Nun (Caress) depicts the tense, violet clutching between a cardinal and nun. The cardinal’s facial expression is characterized by lust and sexual desire; the nun returns an expression of fear, distress, and powerlessness. The scene is a powerful expression of rape; it is presented in a context usually suggestive of sexual “purity” and devoid of sexual misdemeanors.
Rubens’s Saint Barbara Fleeing from her Father combines the themes of incest and rape found in Oedipus and Cardinal and the Nun: the young girl depicted in the center of the painting runs away from her father. Her facial expression is one of terror; her father’s face is not visible, but his body language suggests violent desire.
Rigdol’s Updating Yamantaka portrays Yamantaka, a figure from Buddhism, and his sister attacking a buffalo which is in turn attacking a human. The human, recognizable by his face, is Osama Bin Laden—the piece is a commentary on the relationship between terrorism and the absoluteness of death. The piece creatively juxtaposes the traditional colors and forms of Tibetan Buddhist forms with modernist idea of terrorism.
The scene consists of military men assembled in a line, surrounded by the aftermath of the Western Front during World War I. Piles of dead, uniformed military personnel lie on either side of the line, killed indiscriminately by mustard gas. The painting is symbolic of the tenacity of the men—despite the scene of terror and loss, their march continues forward.
Victory Girls, a painting by Tucker, portrays two teenage prostitutes with stereotyped and exaggerated physical features, including bolded eyelashes and deeply crimson lipstick. Their bodies consist only of their breasts and ribs. The two soldiers surrounding the girls are uniformed military men grabbing the girls, sexually predatory and lustful in expression. The piece is a commentary on sexual and social corruption and decay: irony exists in the contrast between the girls’ patriotically colored clothing and the American ideal of social purity.
“Human Laundry” depicts a dreary neutral-colored rows of German concentration camp prisoners being healed by Red Cross workers. Contrasting the plump figures of the nurses with the skin-and-bones build of their patients, the artist effectively and dramatically describes the horrors that these ostracized prisoners faced--something that was not seen by most German citizens at the time.
Those who live in first-world countries often take for granted the ease of access to basic human needs that those in poor countries lack. Huang depicts the hardships of Hong Kong citizens under water restrictions. Crowds of thirsty peasants wait for a single drop of water, while the fountains of the wealthy shamelessly use water for recreation.
A lone woman, a victim of domestic abuse, lies beaten and curled up in a suffocating box. Excerpts from newspaper clippings about victims of domestic abuse surround her. Here, Miller forces society to face an ugly truth about relationships that turn badly. She provokes viewers to have empathy for the victim, rather than ask the typical “why didn’t she just leave?” question.
A seemingly simple piece, Guayasamin’s drawing reflects a much deeper meaning than meets the eye. The title translates to “The World of Hands”, reflecting the pain in genocide, violence, concentration camps, and dictatorships that the world as a whole faced in the 20th century. These are the topics that are usually overlooked in retelling history, but they may be some of the most important aspects of the past.
Revealing the anatomical area of the brain, this edited autobiographical photograph suggests a hidden mental illness that the artist may struggle with. Mental illness is a topic that popular media does not like to talk about, as it is stigmatized and controversial in the public eye. This often leads to people hiding their illnesses, sometimes even treating mental illness as a less serious issue than other problems like physical disabilities.
Though Georgia O’Keeffe constantly battled against anatomical interpretations of her paintings, ideas still persist about how her paintings of flowers resemble vaginas. This is an example of the explicit being openly depicted, though disguised as something else; the fringes of society being brought into the public eye.
“Olympia” depicts Victorine Meurent in the vein of Titian’s Venus of Urbino and Ingres’ Grande Odalisque, her body draped over a couch while nude. It differs from these works by depicting the model as a prostitute, with Olympia looking passively and her hand placed aggressively over her groin area, rather than enticing the viewer through delicate movement and playful stares. This creates an air of feminism, as well as touching on slavery and the sublimation of other races through her African servant.
“Contemporary Beauties” depict two geishas in the Edo during a time of pleasure. They are shown holding hands, therefore signifying homosexuality and a possible romantic relation between these two geishas. The figure on the right seems to be pointing away from such perceived frivolity, but they hold hands and walk on nonetheless. It gives a very early historical view on lesbian relations, and specifically would have been seen as very taboo in a time when this behavior was not heavily accepted in this seemingly relationship-focused setting.
This piece is a picture of a transgender woman standing in front of a restaurant. It doesn’t appear shocking in itself, but it would be viewed as such at the time and perhaps by many today, as Transgender people are often not accepted in many parts of the world still and are therefore often put on the outskirts of society. Here, Hein-kuhn Oh sheds light on this disenfranchised group in a photo characteristic of his cross-sections of society, bringing this woman, part of a population often disregarded or ignored, into a central role in his art.
This work is made up of sugar pills scattered in a rectangular base on the floor. It represents the futility of life, specifically through the terminality of Aids. His partner died of Aids, as Gonzalez-Torres soon would in 1996, and this is his response. Aids had no cure and it just killed countless people, specifically from the gay population. Everything people would say could work or tried to do didn’t stop people from dying, and as such, were all virtually placebos. All of these placebos for all those who died in a society that didn’t even acknowledge the problem until it became an epidemic.
This depicts philanthropist Carl Bernhard Wadström on the right and Peter Panah on the left. This British painting is supposed to depict the benefits of abolishing slavery, with Wadström supposedly teaching Panah. There is still a clear hierarchy, however, even with the heights of those depicted, that clearly harks back to slavery and shows its persistence in society. Their gaze is also suspect, as it is longing and intent and could be interpreted as even romantic in nature, therefore giving a representation of slavery and possibly homosexuality in late 18th century Britain.
This depicts the general hardships of race, with life being needlessly harder and people being needlessly killed in society due to race. More specifically, this mourns the death of Stephen Lawrence, a teenager killed due to racism in London in 1993, with the teardrops of the painting being comprised of collaged pictures of him. When under special light, ‘R.I.P. Stephen Lawrence 1974-1998’ are visible through the paint. It still serves as an overall depiction of the inequalities of race and the depression and melancholy and hardship caused from it.
This is a depiction of peasants working the fields, specifically gleaning and picking up leftovers after harvest. They are hunched over, working until the late evening and being watched by a steward see in the back. They are poor and hardworking, not allowed the frivolities common to others in French society at the time, but they are also seemingly accustomed to such work and as such do it responsibly and willingly in order to survive.
Death of a Peasant highlights the tragic—yet commonplace—death of a mother of twelve living under scarce and insufficient resources. The close-up painting emphasizes the emotional intensity of the event—the yellow-green colors and textural detail in the husband’s face reflect the intense grief associated with her death. But her position on the social ladder makes her death another insignificant, passing moment.
A shocking depiction of brutal rape of a poor peasant woman by a soldier, this painting shows not only the horrors of rape itself but also of the apathy expressed by the victim. Not only is rape seldom openly discussed, rape of those who are disadvantaged is even less regarded as an issue of concern.
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