Artist Spotlight: Michael Petry

Beutiful on the surface, Petry's work has depth in both wit and scholarship.

BY Christopher Harrity

March 17 2012 2:00 AM ET

MICHAEL PETRY THE TREASURE OF MEMORY X560 | ADVOCATE.COM "Got wood" is a term used in gay and straight pornography, where the director will ask do we have wood, and if the reply is "got wood," then the male performer is erect and ready for filming. This term is the title of a series of work in a variety of hardwoods, all highly sanded and oiled. Viewers are allowed to touch their velvety skin (the oil in their hands is good for the wood).

In the Garden of Eden comprises 12 vertical slices of polished wood and each has an oculus cut into it. The holes were all cut at about the height of an average person’s genitals. Standing next to the pieces, the oculus acted as an anti-fig leaf, framing the crotch for others in the room to see. This installation was meant to be touched, and when visitors did interact with the pieces they were activated and started to sway, reminding viewers of their original state as trees. Equally, images cannot convey the intense smell of the wood. The planks were hung by wire a few millimeters above the gallery floor, in the pattern of video booths found in adult bookstores.The work was designed to take advantage of the gallery’s location, allowing the sun to illuminate the holes at certain times of day, similar to Stonehenge. — M.P. 

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