MICHAEL ARATA: PET SPACES; WHITTIER COLLEGE MENDENHALL · WHITTIER, CALIFORNIA
Michael Arata, “Spanking Machine,”, 2001-04, Lambda print
If you saw Michael Arata’s work around the mid-90’s, most curators would have told you he’s headed to hell in a hand basket. In fact, I can still recall a group show organized by Bill Radewic (“Documenta”-1996) in which Arata was outfitting gray scaled rainbows with machine guns. Arata referred to those particular pieces as “killer rainbows”-which was remarkably ironic. You see, at the time, most exhibitioners that were fortunate enough to grace the same halls as his work, esteemed him as anything but “killer”. As it turns out, the “Rainbow” series would lead to more art-this time, with greater maturity and significance.
In his most current exhibition entitled “Pet Spaces”, Arata builds upon the past with a series of photos posing as himself. In most of the photos he fills in the negative space between his legs and arms with color, assigning each of these “pet spaces” with fabricated dummy eyes. His poses mostly consist of him executing routine tasks like praying, making love, and playing games. In a few instances, he travels outside these safe boundaries by practicing ballet or posing in the same stance as a Victoria’s Secret model.