Joseph Hilton: For Those Who Were Drowned (In 1979)
January 30 – March 25 1982
Joseph Hilton’s art addresses enduring realities of human existence as well as issues unique to contemporary life by means of a traditional form—the human figure. For his window installation, Hilton turned to folklore to address a media culture which implicitly and explicitly defines sexual roles and prescribes sexual fantasy and behavior. The mermaids and mermen of Hilton’s installation were a combination of human and animal forms. The fish tails were based on actual animals, for example, Japanese fighting fish, and were vividly painted. The mythological allure of the upper torso was updated and rendered in terms of a more current erotic standard—a Playboy or Playgirl centerfold. In this new version of the mermaid, the artist juxtaposed biological instinct and fabricated sex objects to comment upon mass consumerism in a media-dominated culture.