From kinky to whimsical and humorous, it’s sexual healing at Space 1026 in Sloppy Seconds
Logan Cryer visits Sloppy Seconds, the 2-person show at Space 1026 featuring work by Wit López and Heather Raquel Phillips. It’s a whimsical affair and both artists draw heavily from craft aesthetics to celebrate brown, queer desire. NOTE: The closing reception is Tuesday, July 24, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM with a performance by Kol-Kez. The exhibit closes July 28.

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In a 2017 Artblog Radio interview Wit López talks with Imani Roach about marginalized artists using humor in art as an act of subversion. While art spaces often ask these artists to display the depth of their trauma, the choice to instead bring laughter can be an act of healing for both the viewer and the artist. Wit López and Heather Raquel Phillips, a friend and a contemporary, put their comedy on full display in their current show at Space 1026, Sloppy Seconds.

Installation view, Sloppy Seconds, work by Wit Lopez, at Space 1026
Installation view, Sloppy Seconds, work by Wit Lopez, at Space 1026. Upcycled materials, acrylic paint, fibers, 2018

López and Phillips are two Philly-based, multidisciplinary artists whose processes address the overlapping topics of sexuality, race, gender, fetish and fantasy. Recently Heather Raquel Phillips showed a solo exhibition at James Oliver Gallery and Wit López exhibited a collaborative show at William Way LGBT Center. On view through July 28th, Sloppy Seconds focuses mainly on their solo textile works and also features a collaborative video installation.

Kinky Icons

Heather Raquel Phillips, Pennants, (2018) felt, sequins, Wood, paint
Heather Raquel Phillips, Pennants, (2018) felt, sequins, Wood, paint

Most of Heather Raquel Phillip’s work in Sloppy Seconds is from her series of felt pennants. Named according to their dominant color (e.g. “Magenta Pennant,” “Yellow Pennant”) these pennants bear a simplified image or phrase on each side. In combination the two images tell a story. For example, one side of Lime Green Pennant has a shiny red mouth biting its bottom lip; on the other side a peeled banana stands erect. While some pennants are more direct in their messaging, I found others a bit more obscure. A faucet spouting golden water and a golden chalice?— I mean, I can guess but hell if I actually know.

Heather Raquel Phillips, Pennants, reverse, (2018) felt, sequins, Wood, paint
Heather Raquel Phillips, Pennants, reverse, (2018) felt, sequins, Wood, paint

In the past Phillips has taken portraits of folks who are part of marginalized sexual communities. While Phillips’ documentary photography asserts presence, her pennants celebrate persistence. Pennants, often found at sporting events, allow for groups of people to collectively celebrate one idea. Through her five pennants, Heather Raquel Phillips uplifts the multifaceted experience of being poc, queer, and femme. My disconnect from kink culture leaves me unable to tell whether the depicted experiences are highlighting positive or negative realities but, for those who relate to the content, the work is a validation.

A Soft Touch

Wit Lopez, "I like a little sting on it… but not too much" (2018) Pine, acrylic paint, cotton pillow
Wit Lopez, “I like a little sting on it… but not too much” (2018) Pine, acrylic paint, cotton pillow

“I like a little sting on it…but not too much” is the title for one of Wit López’s modified sex toy sculptures. The piece is a small paddle that has been painted pink with a soft pillow covering its harsh wood. The piece hangs within a blue frame and is part of a triptych of related accessories. Another is a flogger with tendrils of pink yarn (“Spanking Me Softly”) and the largest of the three is a face mask knitted from purple yarn with a long and flowing high ponytail made from braided pink yarn (“Ponytail Mask”). The softening of these objects does not render them ineffective; these are toys that satisfy our desire to be touched with tenderness. López and their collaborators wore these particular works in their previous photo series but, there is no evidence in Sloppy Seconds of their previous activation.

My favorite piece in the show, and perhaps the most eye catching, is a sculpture by Wit López. A small carousel horse suspended in the gallery is painted, glittered, and given yarn extensions in its mane and tail. The horse, whose legs are already curled in a mid gallop, is now bound by bdsm rope. The piece is entitled, “WHOA! Who’s this party animal?!” What excites me about party animal is how an object designed for human enjoyment has been freed, humanized and is able to experience pleasure on its own terms. López does not fundamentally change the original object; they use accessories to re-contextualize how we view its body, from labor to pleasure, exploitation to consensual submission.

Laughing Together

Wit Lopez and Heather Raquel Phillips,"Probably Not My Kneecaps (2018)", collaboration, audio plus GIF
Wit Lopez and Heather Raquel Phillips,”Probably Not My Kneecaps (2018)”, collaboration, audio plus GIF

In the one collaborative piece in the show, a collaged audio track (by Phillips) accompanies a gif (provided by Lopez) that is projected onto the gallery wall. The gif animates images of López, bare shouldered and in a decorative wig, making them appear to sway from side to side, staring at the viewer. The costume, movement, and playful saloon music would perhaps feel seductive if not for López’s startled expression that shifts in and out of a comical grimace.

Sloppy Seconds is full of López’s and Phillip’s jokes but, does not give much context as to where their humor is derived from. Without background knowledge of the artists, and with no curatorial statement present, the show may seem like a punchline without a set-up to new viewers. Though, perhaps it is the intention of Sloppy Seconds to show that coming in new to something someone else is already familiar with may not be such a bad experience after all.

Sloppy Seconds, opening reception at Space 1026

Sloppy Seconds, through July 28, 2018. Space 1026, 1026 Arch St. 
Closing reception and performance by Kol-Kes, Tuesday evening, July 24, 2018, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM. See Facebook event page for more.

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