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Leslie Friedman’s Tasty at Napoleon


Leslie Friedman’s ultra-Pop installation Tasty, at Napoleon, the micro gallery in the 319 N. 11th St. building, is fizzy with the delight of well-designed space and stealth content that improves with time.

Leslie Friedman, Tasty installation detail

Friedman has hit a feminist note in her installation, in which three panels repeat a soda can’s thick emission dripping down to the open mouth of a conventionally beautiful woman. The pouring hand is manicured–the ladies are doing it to themselves.

Leslie Friedman, Tasty, 2012 installation shot at Napoleon

Friedman’s little exhibit is proof positive that UArts Curator Sid Sachs’ Seductive Subversion show of the year in 2010 came at the right time, when those ideas and strategies are bubbling up again in our communal consciousness–I’m thinking especially of Pop feminist artists Marjorie Strider and Evelyne Axelle from Sid’s show.

Leslie Friedman, Tasty, detail of installation

In Napoleon, the panels are augmented with a floor installation, two-gallon replicas of Coke Zero cans in seductive colors tumble across the unfinished old wood, making Andy’s Campbell’s Soup Cans austere and Platonic. Pink pearly paint–is it nail polish, I wonder–serves as the soda can ejaculate. It’s the same substance pouring down in the painted panels. And sprinkled among all this are giant facsimiles of packets of Splenda, Truvia, et al. Although bigger can be better, the packets lack the material delights and metaphoric possibilities of the other details of the installation.

Marjorie Strider Marjorie Strider Woman with Parted Lips, 1964 acrylic on board Collection Michael T. Chutko

In a world where James Rosenquist painted a deadpan F-111 with a mixture of adoration and dread, so Friedman creates her salvation and her nemesis with equal ambivalence. It’s here, in this ambivalence, combined with sexual messages about desire, and cultural messages about women, their roles and their value, that this seemingly simple installation finds its not-so-simple content.

Leslie Friedman, Tasty, installation detail

Friedman, a 2011 Tyler MFA, is part of the Napoleon team. The exhibit is up until Feb. 24.