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Hugh Hayden at Lisson
November 18, 2023 - January 13, 2024
When I walked into Hugh Hayden’s exhibition at Lisson Gallery in Hollywood, I was confronted with wall-to-wall bathroom stalls akin to a large airport bathroom. The art remained discreetly hidden within each stall, and after some prodding from a gallery worker, I began to venture in, discovering sculptural and photographic works installed within each cubicle — each, a private viewing room for one.
Behind door number one: a toilet carved out of wood and outfitted with protruding branches. The next door however housed a small vitrine featuring two interlocked rings, though rather than diamonds, a blue Descovy pill is set into each. One stall contained the only photographic works in the show (pictures of Hayden and his partner — both male — holding each other shirtless while one wears a prosthetic belly as if pregnant). Toilets and urinals feature heavily, and in many of the sculptures guns are swapped for male genitalia — a commentary on power and sexual dynamics. One row of stalls features functioning urinals in various sculptural configurations (that apparently gallery goers have been utilizing). Much of the work centers on the body (and navigating various bodily positionalities). The craft of Hayden’s wood, bronze, resin, and flocked objects are exquisite, their materiality acting as another entry point when paired with the dynamic and intimate viewing experience. Together, Hayden’s array of objects elicits intersecting themes of pleasure, privacy, violence, intimacy, and chosen family.
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Photo: Hugh Hayden: Hughman at Lisson. Image courtesy of the artist and Lisson.