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Rated R?

Corrigan Gallery’s latest exhibit fails to offend



Admittedly, I approached Corrigan Gallery Tuesday evening with some trepidation. The Queen Street spot was hosting the opening reception for their new show X-Rated?, featuring works that might be considered too racy to display in a family-friendly gallery. We were told that the works would be contained in the gallery’s small back room, separated by a curtain — kind of like the pornos at a video store. I tried to think of what would be deemed so inappropriate, and my imagination strayed to thoughts of peep shows and “Piss Christ,” preparing myself for the height of offensiveness, until I was almost expecting it. I was ready and eager for it.

I made my way through the crowded front room of the gallery, grabbing a pomegranate-flavored test tube cocktail on my way. I made an effort to glance at the “normal” art in the room, so as to avoid looking like a perv heading straight for the harder stuff in the back. I pushed back the curtain, entering into the supposed den of iniquity.

There were breasts. There were penises. There were realistic nude sketches and playful, colorful collages with hidden copulating couples. A painting of a woman swimming underwater baring her breast hung on the wall beside a small monitor showing clips of cut-out characters gettin’ it on. Was any of it offensive? Absolutely not. I might think twice before bringing my kids to this particular show, with so much nudity and sex condensed into one space, but I wouldn't object to seeing any of the pieces on the wall at a gallery or museum, either.

The show is only on view through Sept. 5, but I think it’s a must-see because it makes you reflect on what’s appropriate and what’s not in art — I was considering this before I even got to the gallery. It also says a lot about Charleston’s art scene, that such pieces have to be relegated in a back room. Kudos to Lese Corrigan for hosting the show.

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