COME ON: Desire Under the Female Gaze

COME ON: Desire Under the Female Gaze

Curated by Astria Suparak
For The Warehouse Gallery, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
Aug. 23 – Oct. 27, 2007

  • Text
  • Public Programming
  • Press
  • Visitor Comments


Jo-Anne Balcaen, Juliet Jacobson, Rachel Rampleman

Female artists explicitly express desire, fantasy, disappointment, pleasure in COME ON

COME ON: Desire Under The Female Gaze focuses on the psychological, social, cultural and political dimensions of desire, subjectivity and pleasure.

COME ON presents an array of ideas, imagery and experiences on the topic of sexuality from the perspective of women in their 20s through mid 30s. The artists in this exhibition employ diverse media, including large-scale drawing, video installation, text work and ephemeral sculpture. COME ON reveals what is not represented in popular culture and provides a counterbalance to the ubiquitous imagery of sexualized female bodies created for mainstream heterosexual male sensibilities.

• In Poison, by Brooklyn artist Rachel Rampleman, rock star virility is deflated through real-life testimonial. In a video viewable from a set of stadium bleachers, the artist’s sister Sarah describes her lifelong idolatry of infamous frontman Bret Michaels. The fantasy and anticipation leading up to a weekend rendezvous are recounted in uproarious detail, as well as her ensuing disappointment in the desired object’s sexual skills. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes, “Sarah is brilliant” and artnet calls the video “priceless”. Rampleman’s report punctures the myth of the adoring, anonymous female fan and the prowess of the famous musician.

Rampleman has exhibited and screened at Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Cynthia Broan Gallery and NYU Cantor Film Center in Manhattan, and ArtWorks Time Warner Cable Gallery in Cincinnati.

• Montreal-based Jo-Anne Balcaen creates oblique narratives with dictionary definitions through intriguing juxtapositions. The word combinations chosen question the cultural baggage assigned to language used to express emotions, uncovering the role of language in the construction of gender. In addition to the text works in COME ON, Balcaen will install a suggestive minimalist sculpture created out of balloons, which points to the commercialization of courtship, the inflated and insupportable expectations of happiness, and the temporality of feelings.

Balcaen has exhibited at SAW Gallery in Ottawa, Katharine Mulherin in Toronto, in Montreal at Parisian Laundry, Joyce Yahouda, articule, and the Ellen Art Gallery at Concordia University, as well as unconventional sites like Salvation Army, an abandoned hospital, a library and on billboards.

• Brooklyn-based Juliet Jacobson’s large-scale drawings evoke centuries-old Mannerist painting through the use of ornate details, contorted compositions and irrational space. These exquisite illustrations of intertwined male lovers are informed by the critical theories of feminist and queer studies. With a symbol set deriving from the histories of art, religion, and literature, Jacobson’s finely rendered works are meditations upon generation and creativity, fragility, intimacy, love, mutuality, morality, identity, alienation and universality.

Jacobson has been included in exhibitions curated by Kiki Smith and Valerie Hammond in New York and Rupert Goldsworthy in London. Her work was featured in the last issue of K48 Magazine.

Join the artists and curator Astria Suparak for a day of artist talks culminating in a tour and reception with refreshments on Thursday, Sept. 20, at The Warehouse Gallery.



Sept. 20
2pm: Artist Talks: Juliet Jacobson & Rachel Rampleman
Sponsored by the Departments of Communication and Rhetorical Studies and Transmedia at Syracuse University
@ Warehouse Community Classroom

5-8pm: Sweet Nothings Reception
During Th3 Syracuse Arts Night, with vegan treats provided Roji Tea Lounge and local beer by Middle Ages Brewery.

6pm: Guided Tour with exhibition curator and artists

Aug. 26
8-9:30pm: Screening: Daughters of Joy!
Experimental video and audio about sex, and the American launch of Lickety Split sex-positive zine.
Curated by Amber Goodwyn with work by Lamathilde, Nicole Koschmann, Scott Stark, Anita Schoepp, and more.
Co-presented with Syracuse Experimental Film & Media Workshop
@ Spark Art Space

Oct. 18
8pm: Screening: Emotional Realism
Videos that pose questions about the rhetoric of honesty and the production of empathy in the viewer.
Curated by Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby with work by Miriam Bäckström, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Dena DeCola and Karin Wandner, and Amanda Baggs.
@ Watson Theater, Syracuse University

Aug. 24
7:30pm: ConcertPoison, Ratt, and other metal bands
The (once) object of desire in Rampleman’s video performs on stage.
@ The New York State Fair

9pm: TelevisionVH1’s Rock of Love with Bret Michaels






The exhibition opened in late August in Syracuse, New York at the Warehouse Gallery. Affiliated with Syracuse University as one of a consortium of school galleries (Coalition of Museums and Art Centers—CMAC), the space maintains relative independence with its off-campus, downtown location. This location allowed The Warehouse to better fulfill its purported aim to act as a bridge between the university and the population of Syracuse while presenting international contemporary engaged art, but more specifically by stimulating dialog about art’s role in society and expanding notions of art with exposure to current art practice.

Of course, “Come On” did just that with three young women artists taking on desire and sexuality and brought together by a curator who openly describes herself as a “young, queer woman of color.” And whether at first by choice and later by dint of circumstance, the ongoing theme of the exhibition was the personal laid bare and exposed. Alternately sexy and uncomfortable the show was always HOT

Standing in sharp contrast to this text-book approach was Suparak whose exhibitions resisted narrow thinking and neat categorization—”Come On” was exemplary in this regard. For Hoone though, it must have had the character of something he could not understand nor contain—it was too messy, too sexy, too complicated—overall, too hot. But it was the same HOT thing that Syracuse embraced; and while probably challenging, a threat it was not. The fact is that Suparak did curate contextually strong exhibitions. This is why she had a following. This is why the Warehouse was widely hailed as a success… Suparak was exceedingly capable of creating a context for challenging and new work.
– Yvonne Olivas, “Desire in Syracuse: the ‘Come On’ Controversy,” Nov. 16, 2007


Provocative, original work that is sure to grab your attention and occasionally push you to the edge of discomfort. While their work might shock, offend or challenge you, there is real content and an arresting aesthetic to the imagery…

This exhibition may rankle the moral fiber of some viewers, just as the “Sensation” show in 1999 rankled the moral fiber of then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. As difficult as we may find some of the subject matter, the COME ON artists are not sensationalists looking to shock or anger viewers. For some, it takes a shock to light the fires of contemplation.

– Katherine Rushworth, “Lighting the Fires of Contemplation: Warehouse Gallery show puts into the spotlight some rarely confronted issues,” Stars Magazine, Sept. 9, 2007

Mark Bialczak, “Music: Take A Longer Look At Poison’s Michaels,” Sept. 7, 2007

SYRACUSE NEW TIMES: “Picks: Sexy Is As Sexy Does,” Aug. 29, 2007

SYRACUSE CITY EAGLE: Nancy Keefe Rhodes, “Balcaen shows at Warehouse Gallery,” Sept. 13, 2007



“I’m glad to see someone in Syracuse isn’t afraid to show provocative, but artistically arresting work. I’m looking forward to hearing responses from the community.”

“This exhibition is the reason why things are getting better for women..”

“Seriously, this exhibition is deep.”

“The movie, Poison, was great. Very eye-opening…or should I say consciousness raising.”