What's your IQ? How much money did you make last year? What's your waist size, your bra cup, your dick length? Richmond, Va.-based artist Matt King wants to know. And while we're at it, how old are you, anyway? Is your girlfriend younger than you (cradle robber!) or richer (gold-digger!)? Science Diet, King's thought-provoking show at Fourteen30 Contemporary, makes us confront our place on the biological and social continuums by which we're judged. In his sculpture-intensive show, the artist draws out viewers' insecurities, pitting id and ego against the finger-pointing schoolmarm of the superego. These themes are most apparent in his steel-pole sculptures with height measurers attached and platforms for symbolic paraphernalia: a male fertility testing kit, a container of ant poison, a child's geology set, a skin cancer self-screening test. How mobile are your sperm, the sculptures demand—how insect-impervious your home, how melanoma-free your face?
These probings grow more inscrutable and extreme in Feedback Reflex Lite, a gargantuan steel sculpture with six unwieldy, basketlike legs and a long metal tail with a rearview mirror on its end. At the base of each leg, ringing the core of this fearsome-looking creature, is a clear circle depicting iconic images: abstracted human organs, a cat lapping up food or drink, and, most ominously, a clock. Although the basket legs look womblike, they are cages that contain nothing but air; vessels that could not hold water, gestate children, or carry dreams. The rearview mirror trailing behind catches reflections of life as it flies past. And the iconic images so close to the sculpture's empty heart speak to the fallibility of our bodies, the trappings of materialism and domesticity, and the ruthless, unflinching scorekeeper of the biological clock. As a whole, the piece enumerates Kafka-esque grotesqueries that afflict the flesh and the neuroses that besiege the mind.
Or maybe that's just my projection. Thoughtfully conceived, well-executed art—which King's most certainly is—adapts to the viewer's reference points. Science Diet is a kind of Rorschach test, beckoning you to take it—if you dare.
SEE IT: Science Diet shows at Fourteen30, 1430 SE 3rd Ave., 236-1430. Closes April 25.