Contributed by Andrew Woolbright / In 1972, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari – a French philosopher and a French psychoanalyst, respectively – published Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. It became something of an intellectual sensation. Among other things, they challenged Freud’s focus on the Oedipus complex as an irrepressible source of human aggression and regimentation. Michel Foucault, another French philosopher, saw their ideas as a reaction to the scourge of fascism in the twentieth century – that is, a search for channels that diverted the human attraction to totalitarian control. Deleuze and Guattari’s fascination with a nomadic, disassociated self inextricable from nature and the cosmos was, said Foucault, an introduction to a non-fascist life.
This would have been rich fodder for artists in the socio-political ferment of Europe in the 1970s, when longstanding illiberal arrangements and ideas were under attack. So it is now, as fascistic notions of social and political order resurface and percolate worldwide. Against that backdrop, the palpable shift towards interiority and reclusiveness, the auto-erotic, and insidious social architecture in the work of several Lower East Side artists reads as a nod to anti-Oedipal ego death, and a resistance to American fascism.
Jenna Gribbon’s paintings – of scenes she admits indulge personal fetishes and desires – are substantively less opaque than Cartier Lucy’s and comparably powerful. In her recent NYC show at Fredericks & Freiser, Gribbon presented paintings that depicted auto-erotic acts in confined spaces, creating what Deleuze and Guattari would call a celibate machine. The gallery became a theater of erotic explorations of power and dominance. But their very isolation makes it anti-Oedipal. She currently has an exhibition of portraits on view at Howard’s in Athens, Georgia.