Neke Carson’s John Waters Closet Portrait must be one of the more unusual works in the Washington Project for the Arts’ Benefit Auction that is now open for online bidding at Artsy through August 13. Carson, a pioneering performance artist with links to Fluxus and Neo-Dada, is a true original who over his 50-year career has produced a distinctive body of work that never ceases to challenge and surprise.
The “portrait” of filmmaker John Waters is from a series of photographs that Carson took in the closets of friends in 2009. The key is the unfamiliar worms’ eye viewpoint, looking up from the floor at the clothing hanging above. Despite the use of the term “closet portraits,” and a point of view that suggests a voyeuristic “up-skirt” photograph, there are no salacious details to be found here. What carries the Closet Portraits is the abstract beauty of the twisting and twirling shapes, the sumptuous colors and the mysterious light, not to mention the light-bulb moment of discovery.
Carson’s link to Waters goes back to 1978 when Carson was a participant in the Washington Project for the Arts’ Punk Art Exhibition. Carson became the most publicized artist in the exhibition when his infamous “rectal realist” portrait of Andy Warhol was stolen during a weekend of Baltimore punk headlined by Waters with his Pink Flamingo star Edith Massey. Fortunately, the disappearance of the valuable and unique painting caught the amused attention of local media, and frightened the teenager who snatched it into returning it two weeks later.
You can bid on Neke Carson’s John Waters Closet Portrait through August 13th.
Also available in the auction is another item connected to the WPA’s Punk Art Exhibition: Miller & Ringma’s 1977/78 photo portfolio Bettie Visits CBGB.
Neke Carson has been featured in an online exhibition at Gallery 98.