In its brief history, The Front has showcased consistently quirky and provocatively paradoxical artworks, and its current expo is no exception. Morgana King's Suck It wall installation is emblematic: a large and delirious visual meditation on pervasive oral fixations. Inspired by summertime barflies sucking on cold libations as well as spring weddings and maternity wards, its pastel conical and nipple-like forms comprise a rhapsodic bas-relief of polymorphous associations infused with the seasonal urgency of blooming buds. In her statement about the expo King says, "Sit back and relax. I entreat you to either lay upon a cloud of titties or suck it."
Holger Lang's Toast & Champagne is a visual rumination on the spiritual dimensions of inner space — psychic and physical — in the form of colorful collages and videos based on figures from myth, history and fantasy, all surrounding a spooky sort of altar where a pair of disembodied mannequin hands hang amid a loopy web of string. The overall installation suggests a cerebral spiderweb where artifacts of cultural history are accumulated instead of dead flies, and it's about as precisely and unsettlingly executed.
Julie Pieri's Delicious series of collages cobbled from the Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library — plastic-sealed recipes on cards in file boxes — is almost reassuring, but there's something disturbing about all the luridly colored food photos sliced, diced and remixed. Images like demonic, rhinestone-studded carrots hover over orgiastic spreads of Betty Crocker specialties like macaroni, meatloaf and deviled eggs in an infernal display of middle American culinary diabolism.
Strange as it sounds, Laura Zuspan's Exoastroalienology series of ink paintings inspired by space aliens is oddly familiar, which may be her point. Like mythic beings who came to visit and made themselves at home, space aliens coexist with the other familiar icons of our pop culture — just as these four shows, each equally inviting and off-putting, meld their own unique flavors into the St. Claude Avenue mix.
New Work by Morgana King, Holger Lang, Julie Pierie and Laura Zuspan
Through May 2
The Front, 4100 St. Claude Ave.; www.nolafront.org