Home · Articles · Arts & Books · Visual Arts · Alicia J. Rose at Grass Hut
January 16th, 2008 12:00 am RICHARD SPEER | Visual Arts

Alicia J. Rose at Grass Hut

Alicia J. Rose charges into the woods in her genderfucked Fairytales.

Alicia J. Rose’s Hansel and Gretel

In 1812, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published what has become the world’s best-known collection of adapted European and Middle Eastern fairy tales. Three of these tales—Snow White and the Seven Dwarves , Hansel and Gretel , and Little Red Riding Hood —serve as the springboard for Alicia J. Rose’s new photographic series at Grass Hut, Fairytales . In past work, most notably portraits of Oregon Ballet Theatre dancers and local rockers The Decemberists, Rose has deployed elaborate stagings, flying-leap poses, and supersaturated colors owing more to fashion photography than the grainier, more naturalistic sensibility currently in fine-art vogue. Rose kicks up her signature style several notches in the current show, shot last November on Sauvie Island with a sprawling cast including members of the semi-defunct gender-bending performance troupe Sissy Boys. This fabulous casting call (Splendora, a.k.a. Lee Kyle, as “The Queen” in Snow White ) lends itself quite naturally to the Brothers Grimm stories, which are already replete with deliciously twisted cross-gender/cross-species role play: the Big Bad Wolf masquerading as Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother?—I mean, come on, people! It’s a wickedly over-the-top, pointedly de-Disneyfied interpretation. “Fuck Disney,” Rose declaimed at the show’s First Friday opening, “for co-opting the idea of fairy tales!”

Eschewing Photoshop trickery, the photographer achieves a panoply of luscious effects in-camera, most notably in The Poisoning , with its background of rich twilight and preternaturally illuminated foreground recalling Rembrandt’s classic Night Watch . The photo’s multi-person tableau shows off Rose’s significant gifts for stage direction and composition; however, she is less assured in more intimate, one- or two-person vignettes such as Forest Comfort , Lost and The Queen , which could stand a dose of invigoration, perhaps by way of off-kilter angles or a greater sense of motion. Teutonic in timbre—and in timber, witness their Black Forest-like, tree-branch frames—the works pour forth with a Wagner-meets-Fassbinder surfeit, which viewers are apt either to love or hate. I stand in the former camp, although after this glitzed-out extravaganza, I wonder how Rose can possibly top herself. The 1,001 Nights , perhaps?

SEE IT: Grass Hut, 811 E Burnside St., 445-9924. Closes Jan. 28.
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5


comments powered by Disqus

Web Design for magazines