works by Whitney Lynn now available for online sale on Artspace
In “Sirens,” Whitney Lynn explores the mechanisms of illusion and deception through hand-crafted decoys, duck calls and fishing lures fashioned from materials of high symbolic or actual value. The success of these objects of enticement–both in the wild and in the art gallery–depends on illusion and seduction. Does it depend on deception as well? Much digital ink has been spilled post-Simchowitz on the idea of the predatory art collector, but Lynn positions the artist as the hunter in this chase, the collector as the elusive duck, the viewer as the fish on the line.
Decoys attract and mislead by showing their audience a representation of their kind and making them feel safe. Aside from their illusory uses in the wild, decoys are traded and displayed as collectible art, where scratches and nicks reveal authenticity. Like decoys, duck calls entice ducks by mimicking their voices and entice humans with their craft; Lynn’s functioning calls are fashioned from plastic drinking straws. Her printed aluminum simulacrum of a “Dupe-A-Goose” decoy is a reproduction of a representation, the irony lost on waterfowl but not audiences of contemporary art.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is an installation of dozens of hand-crafted fishing lures inspired by the impressive creations made by fly fishers. Even lures designed to be used on the water are vernacular miniature sculptures created from inventiveness, science, utility and art, as fly fishing aficionados assert. Some lures take a representational strategy and mimic insects; others work through more abstract formal means. The materials used in Lynn’s sculptural fishing lures tip her hand that she is trawling in deep waters. Lynn’s highly charged materials include precious metals, pubic hair, captive bird feathers, U.S. currency, vintage fur and flag thread. Lynn dangles them out in the world in handsome woodburned boxes, using materials to both attract and repel.
“Sirens” is a series of printed habotai silk scarves on the theme of the siren, the female archetype of the temptress or femme fatale. Lynn complicates this stock character constructed to mark societal boundaries and to embody a gendered threat. Each image shows a symbol of the woman depicted: six fingers for Anne Boleyn, a snake bite to the nipple referencing Cleopatra’s apocryphal suicide, and flowing hair representing Delilah. In Greek mythology, the beautiful songs of the sirens lured sailors to a rocky death. Unlike collectors and lucky fisherman, the sailors didn’t make it home with a treasured prize.