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Them Boys
David Alekhuogie
September 8 – October 21, 2017
 
Skibum MacArthur
1989 Blake Ave, 90039
 
Preview: Friday, September 8, 2017, 7-10pm
 
Open hours Fridays and Saturdays noon-6pm and by appointment
Please email hey@skibummacarthur.net
 
A flash of torso, a t-shirt, underwear, low-slung pants. They form the color fields of red, white, and blue that compose the landscape-inspired photographs in Them Boys, David Alekhuogie’s show at Skibum MacArthur. In his exploration of bodies and states of (un)dress, David exposes and subverts the meanings and mythologies—of desire and fear, inextricably intertwined, and often involving racial and gendered politics—we ascribe to fashions and the bodies they simultaneously cloak and reveal.

“Brothers should pull up their pants,” even (the then) President Obama chimed in. Though the saggy pants style has been around for three decades, it has triggered public consternation among politicians in recent years and spurred a spate of local ordinances around the country, resulting in fines and at times prison time. Predominantly associated with urban hip hop culture, the prohibition of low hanging pants suggests camouflaged regulation of black male bodies and their self-presentation. David complicates the heavily coded narrative by posing his saggy pant compositions on both mannequins and models, males and females. The wide swaths of color in the close-up images also feature branding of labels with potent associations with the urban and Americana like Tommy Hilfiger, True Religion and Dickies. Cropped and abstracted yet seductive, the photographs dialogue with advertising imagery and hint at the commodification of the sagging style. (After all, Justin Bieber’s sag swag got him a Calvin Klein underwear contract.)

The photographs are accompanied by cyanotypes toned in Epson ink of classical statuary, juxtaposing contemporary representations of male bodies and fashions against transferred images of ancient idealized figures and garments set in stone. In addition, sculptures cast from lower half body mannequins out of concrete, the modern industrial stone material, recall the classical marble figures depicted in the cyanotypes. In Them Boys, fragments of bodies recur, the succinct synecdoches hinting at the anxieties, of lust and disgust, about the public persona versus the private self, felt over bodies throughout history and in our current moment.
 

David Alekhuogie was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago earning a post-baccalaureate Bachelor of Art with a focus in Photography in 2013 and Master's of Fine Art from Yale University in 2015.

Alekhuogie’s multi-disciplinary art practice is centered around photography and investigates and questions the dialectical relationships between politics, race, gender, media, and power. Alekhuogie’s work has been exhibited and collected nationally and internationally and his art has been published in publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, Time Magazine, Timeout magazine, Chicago magazine, Vice magazine, and The Los Angeles Times. Alekhuogie lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.