You can look but you can’t touch. The rubbery, wet-looking pieces in Chris Bauder’s “Strange Glove” solo show at Sin City Gallery ask to be interacted with, but there’s a reason the fleshy assault rifles are protected behind a glass case. He likes the idea of people wanting to interact but having to resist. Bauder takes everyday found objects and makes them mysterious by coating them with a new skin, making each piece both tempting and intimidating like off-limits sexual fantasies. “Strange Glove” runs through March 24 and you can see more of his work at Tilting the Basin contemporary art exhibition through May 14.
What’s the concept behind this show?
I deal with latex and latex paint. The work here is made with common hardware house paint that’s been dipped or laid out on glass and peeled and stretched like a skin. The particular pieces in this show, a few of them get into wrapping the latex paint around found objects, or readymades, which are objects that are already created for another use but I’ll reuse them and re-contextualize them. Some are recognizable and some are a little less recognizable. I’m not really going for ambiguity but I am going for the relationship between the objects and a skin.
How did you come up with the technique?
Trial and error. I am not the first to deal with paint three-dimensionally. It’s a long process and there’s a lot of artists dealing with the solidification of paint but I have gotten to a point where I’m trying to stretch it to all it can do—which is [by] wrapping, bombarding things with it, thickening it up—rather than just using the paint in a more abstract way. I wanted to create something more recognizable. I wanted it to be more organized rather than just throwing paint like Pollock or like Lynda Benglis creating organic female form. I want it to be more thought out, more planned out.
There’s obviously a strong sexual component, too.
Due to the nature of the material, it is going to be. Since this is Sin City Gallery— some of the work isn’t as sexual but I thought I’d go a little bit bigger for the gallery just because of the nature of the work that is displayed in here. And my work has always had that strong sexual feel to it—there’s concave, convex [shapes], orifices, and penetration. Objects that can be penetrated like the glove but can also penetrate others with it. It becomes a slang for a condom, but at the same time, it’s an object that’s used to protect. The gloves are in a praying pose where if you put those on, you would be praying. Part of the work that is interesting is that it’s very tactile. You really want to touch it and grab it. They look like objects that you want to pick up.
Is that a real assault rifle?
It’s a toy from a swap meet because you can’t find a lot of toy guns anymore. You don’t quite know if maybe the skin is growing on it or if the skin came from the body. But all these flesh pieces have a similarity … they can all be used as weapons but they’re all objects that you can get aroused from as well. [It’s a connection between] sex and violence and what turns people on. Especially in a gallery in a town that caters to eroticism. What we think is taboo is really not anymore. Thirty years ago tattoos were taboo, and piercings, but now they’re commonplace.