I am convinced that White Snow is one of the great works of our century, as sprawling, multivalent and rich as the novels that marked the turn of the 20th. Just as a “structure” it is an important achievement, something beyond a performance, film, or sculptural installation. It is all of those things, but instead of a being a theatrical/immersive “experience” (the kitschy “Sleep No More” comes to mind) WS is a constellation of vivid images that exist simultaneously, creating emotional continuity with no narrative; something fractured and coherent. There has never been a work like this on quite this scale, and just as a traditional “masterpiece” would, it offers us a complete cosmology.
WS closes on August 4th, (that is Sunday!) so if you can possibly get to Park Avenue this week be sure to go, but for those who can’t, I’ll try communicate two vivid images.
“WS WP Cooking Show”
This video places us in familiar McCarthy territory: the latent psycho-sexual drama of the suburban American kitchen. McCarthy plays a combination of himself and Walt Disney (i.e. Walt-Paul, WP). We find the beautiful WS, like a scene from the Disney movie, contentedly rolling pie dough. After flattening it to a uniform surface WS places the dough over her face, cooing and pressing it against her skin. Her open mouth sucks open a breathing hole and she perfectly resembles the sculptures of the Hauser & Wirth show—a kind of cartoon death mask. It melts off her face and she rolls it into a large nose like the prosthetics the Dwarfs wear, or that McCarthy wore in “The Painter”. WS already has her own iconic fake nose, replicating the little upturn of the cartoon princess’s, something like a delicate pig snout or fleshy fawn muzzle. She and WP engage each other with various foods: she coats his face with ketchup, cuts off a series of sausage penises. Ultimately WS ends up spinning, coated in chocolate frosting and sprinkles. The entire installation has almost no “words” but a whole vocabulary whimpers, coos, grunts, shrieks, etc.
“The Prince Comes”
There no real sex in WS—it’s focus is on frustrated expression of sex, or the desire for connection, etc. The only person who actually gets off is the Prince, and in an hour long video you see him alone, in various locations in the artificial forest, jacking off. In the Disney movie Snow White sings a sad surreal song “Some Day My Prince Will Come.” In WS your prince is coming, but not for or with you. In the main space you see a cast cadaver of WS with no hair, no pigmentation, and a slot for a vagina—a direct response to the call of Duchamp’s “Étant donnés”. Looking closely at the sculpture in a glass display-case-coffin you see disturbing smudges, hairs, traces. In one sequence of the video you realize these marks remain from the porn star Prince fucking the ghastly WS doll. The sound emphasize the sucking, slurping, knocking effects of his hand and the plastic vagina. It is at once the most obviously funny, sexy, disturbing segment of the installation.
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-Contributed by Jarrett Earnest