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Daggering: Dance Simulating Hardcore Sex at the Glassell School of Art Core 2012 Exhibit

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We were not quite ready for Nicole Miller's docu-style short at the Core 2012 opening exhibition, held this past weekend at the Glassell School of Art. Her piece, a 34-minute film on the act of "daggering," a Caribbean-born style of dance that simulates extremely hardcore sex acts of the same name, was placed in a curtain-covered room adjacent to the other Core Residency Scholars' pieces.

Filmed during one long nightclub evening, the short is a continuous loop of graphic, silent scenes, such as the one where a half-blond, half-pink-haired girl contorts and convulses gymnastically -- and orgasmically -- on a dirty ballroom floor, lover implied, and loud snapshot scenes where a man in an "I ♥ Sookie" shirt takes a running leap into a woman's open legs.

Placing the film behind closed doors gave it a peep show appeal, and that is exactly how people taking in the film responded.

Clearly some found it tasteless and offensive -- evidenced by the looks on the faces of the viewers around us. But it did evoke a response, which is what all art sets out to do.

To us, it was an honest and rather heartbreaking cultural commentary on self-inflicted sexual objectification by women and the equating of sexual virility with sexual violence at the hands of the men, so much so that there have been increased cases of "broken penises" in Jamaica, the place where the dance craze began.

Coming from the darkened room into the main part of the gallery was like night and day. The other pieces were not nearly as challenging to the senses. Among the highlights were Miguel Amat's "Capitalism and Avant-Garde." The diptych blended into the walls, its jaded overhead shots of highways meant as a comment on capitalist and consumerist-fueled construction.

Behind Amat's piece were Jang soon Im's two-part "Landscape" digital prints with bright, purplish hues and miniature male subjects -- a cross between Oompa Loompas and Mario Brothers.

Anthea Behm's "A/B Abstract," seemed mundane, a hastily scribbled diagram on paper that reminded us of those "You Are Here" fire instructions posted inside buildings. Around the corner, the washed-out white of Gabriel Martinez's "Colophon" screenprint explaining the origin of Adobe Garamond typeface left us hungry for color.

But Clarissa Tossin's "Em estilo americano (systemic permutations)," offered a colorful series of photographed rowhouses cut in half and placed atop pictures of similar-looking residences, then photographed once more, therefore making a double-photographed still of two completely different homes that somehow matched. The Core 2012 artist's works will be on view until April 30. For more information, contact Glassell School of Art, 5101 Montrose Boulevard, 713-639-7500.

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