The Boston LGBTQIA+ Artist Alliance, dormant since 2019, roars back to life with “some assembly required,” a juried show of Boston-area artists up for Pride Month and beyond at the Distillery Gallery. Curators Ena Kantardzic and Jasper A. Sanchez discovered many submissions dealt with isolation, intimacy, and longing in quarantine.
Sanchez and Kantardzic’s fluid installation opens playfully, with Maxine Hwang Blomberg’s “Prodigal Poppy Head,” a fuzzy red critter with big white hands and toes hanging from the ceiling. Put it on your head and look up into an elevated crocheted crown, and a baby’s face gazes down at you. It’s goofy and surprising, monstrous and endearing — in a way, like all of us.
The show contends with domestic dissonance and the hard work to claim identity. Scott Walker’s hilarious, harrowing embroidered depiction of Toni Colette in the horror movie “Hereditary” screams from a lacy table runner. In “Sit Proper,” A.M. Disher tops a white, ladderback chair with a reddened piece of wood, like a nasty finger poking in the sitter’s back.
Simone de Beauvoir’s observation “one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman” inspired Anukriti Kaushik’s digital animation “death of the woman.” Kaushik asks what if you’re born female, but that’s not who you are? A red figure with a dark, radiant head takes possession of an orb and holds it on their tongue. The spare, incantatory film feels like a creation myth — a central theme in LGBTQ art.
Last year, Xray Aims ventured out to a Jamaica Plain basketball court that had been decommissioned to discourage gathering. For “BasketArt Court,” the artist hand-knotted together scores of deflated bicycle inner tubes, draping a rubbery cobweb over one backboard and tying it to the other.
The ropey chain is installed here, along with a video of Aims making the piece, chatting with socially distanced passersby. Imagine the inner tubes as a metaphor for our own interior selves — ungainly, inflatable, easily punctured. Here, out in the open and entwined, they remind us how exposed and frightened we were at the height of the pandemic, and how elementally necessary it felt to connect. That’s what many LGBTQ people experience, even in healthy times.
SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED
At Distillery Gallery, 516 East 2nd St., South Boston, through July 23. www.distillerygallery.com/2021
Cate McQuaid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.