Getting Frisky on Gallery Night
Balthazar is the name of a NYC bistro and a character in Shakespeare. In Biblical land, it’s the name of one of the three Wise Men. But is this Balthazar, a Madison photographer and writer-of-letters wise enough to pull off an exhibition (La Decandanse) at the Tool Shed Erotic Boutique at 2427 N. Murray Ave.? You’ll have a full two months (Jan. 20 – March 20) to ogle their 12”x18” photographs shot on 35mm black/white film.
The wise man has a wise partner, SM Kubica, and this art/sex decadent duo find inspiration in the words, music and love of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. Gainsbourg and Birkin were famous free-love lovers caught in the spin of the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s.
I asked if they invented themselves, as New Wave filmmakers did in the 50s. Kubica, who also lives in Madison and occasionally produces art shows at The Project Lodge, replied thusly:
“Well, yes, in a sense we are refugees from the past, of indeterminate time and origin,” she said. “We are both very interested in creating our own realities and stories. Because….why not? Life is our medium.”
Balthazar is more interested in images than filmmaking, however, he admires the films of Tinto Brass, wherein giggling Italian ladies always get the better of the men they’re with.
I prodded B. to admit that the coming Tool Shed series is pure satire. He wouldn’t budge. His partner, SM Kubica is indeed gorgeous. As Jane Birkin played the muse to Serge Gainsbourg, she’s Balthazar’s muse — and more, because she styles the shoots.
“The work is not satirical, I’m sorry to say,” he says. “Well, I’m not sorry about it at all. Sorry that I’m not sorry.”
So here I stand in the Tool Shed, surrounded by erotic goodies. A rack of zines, positioned near the entry door, will soon have Balthazar’s zine, or you can order it from MagCloud, a digital vanity press. I tried to get a sneak look at the photographs, but the proprietor of la Shed said that the images were sealed in boxes and would not be available for viewing until the opening on the 20th. That tease tactic reminded me of sitting in a Kansas City burlesque house waiting for the red velvet curtains to open.
Sorry folks. If you want to preview the work, go to Balthazar’s website, then check out Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life, which opened in movie theaters recently. He died of booze and cigs, and Birkin outlived her lover by 21 years, long enough to showcase his songs in a recent North American tour. She admits leaving her lover because he was a drunk (and, as the years wore on, she says he was boring to boot), but he must have had something going as Brigette Bardot also left him. Serge & Jane had a love child, Charlotte, who is currently a pop singer. Naturally.
What have Kubica and Balthazar wrought? Satire, methinks. Luscious satire.
The opening reception is part of the Jan. 20 Gallery Night.
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