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Michael Decker's Anti-Cute Art at Steve Turner Contemporary, Including Disemboweled E.T. Dolls In A Fetal Ring

Michael Decker's Fetal Ring, a ring of disembowled E.T. dolls
Michael Decker's Fetal Ring, a ring of disembowled E.T. dolls

Yes, this is art. The standout piece in 29-year old Los Angeles artist Michael Decker's current show at Steve Turner Contemporary is the one with the disemboweled E.T. dolls stuck on a wire ring. It's called Fetal Ring. It is bizarre.

He has several other pieces, too -- some drawings, some signs stamped with aphorisms like, "To save time, let's assume I know everything," some wood ornaments glued into a giant sculpture, some smashed glass bowls. They are all part of an exhibition titled "Adult Roman Numeral Thirty," which explores themes of adulthood and adolescence, and is up through Dec. 17. The title refers to turning thirty. There are 29 stamped signs, 29 glass bowls, etc.

Decker's art is kinda cute and kinda not. He answered questions to that effect.

Michael Decker's Anti-Cute Art at Steve Turner Contemporary, Including Disemboweled E.T. Dolls In A Fetal Ring
Michael Decker's exhibit

Do you hate cuteness? It has been suggested to me that your art is "anti-cute." If someone were to call your art "cute," would you be offended?

No, I don't hate anything really. I've always been attracted to the promotion of desire through cute imagery, objects and language. There is something inherently attractive in the perversities generally associated with cute things and the suspicion it evokes when explored as an aesthetic form. People generally see cute as a device to exploit something external to itself, probably because of advertising and toy companies, but I'm sure it goes back much further. "Cute" offers a freedom to evade seriousness, or even reality.

These cute things are everywhere, making emotional appeals towards immediacy and seduction with an often unrelated subtext. Ultimately, I guess I should be asking myself the question, "Am I suffering from the very conditions I'm trying to critique?"

Michael Decker's Anti-Cute Art at Steve Turner Contemporary, Including Disemboweled E.T. Dolls In A Fetal Ring
Effervescence Adolescence Evanescence, by Michael Decker

Michael Decker's Anti-Cute Art at Steve Turner Contemporary, Including Disemboweled E.T. Dolls In A Fetal Ring
A more detailed look at Effervescence Adolescence Evanescence

Why did you disembowel E.T.? I mean, why specifically E.T. dolls? Can you tell me what was going through your mind when you were making Fetal Ring?

When I destuffed the E.T. dolls and removed the eyes they lose their iconography to a degree and become more like fetuses. I modeled the sculpture off of a linear fetal development chart that shows the various stages of development, only in Fetal Ring I depict this chart as a continuous ring illustrating the development and de-evolution of the fetus with various sizes and styles of E.T. plush dolls that were all manufactured the same year as my birth 1982. The personal anecdote to the piece comes from my mother telling me about going to the theater to see E.T. with me in her belly.

Michael Decker's Anti-Cute Art at Steve Turner Contemporary, Including Disemboweled E.T. Dolls In A Fetal Ring
Trichomes, by Michael Decker

Is that E.T. piece for sale?

Of course the piece is for sale, it is in a commercial art gallery.

For how much?

I would prefer that you don't mention that.

Why not?

I just don't think it's relevant to the work, and if someone is seriously interested I imagine they would contact the gallery.

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Michael Decker's Anti-Cute Art at Steve Turner Contemporary, Including Disemboweled E.T. Dolls In A Fetal Ring
We're Getting Old, So Let's Talk Like This no. 26 (WHY WORRY...), by Michael Decker

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