What can the color blue tell us about masculinity? Fin Simonetti’s recent exhibition, “Pledge,” centered on a series of small sculptures carved from blue alabaster and placed theatrically on a thin steel railing that zigzagged through the gallery. The objects served as a suite of oblique monuments to our current cultural reckoning with hegemonic masculinity: oppressive because of its fragility. Although seeming as solid as Classical marble sculptures, the objects were actually made of a soft mineral. Although bolted to the railing, they appeared precariously balanced.
The first sculpture in the progression was a rendering of a fire extinguisher, hinting at a state of emergency. Next, an alabaster cock and balls suggested the castrated remains of Western art’s heroic nude. A candle with a cartoonish flame drove home the fact that, no matter the tools at our disposal, the world is a dark place to navigate. Two paws and a tail modeled on those of a pit bull mastiff—and placed on a rectangular portion of the railing that registered as the ghostly scaffolding of the animal’s body—evoked a type of dog commonly considered aggressive. After this came a pair of alabaster earplugs: perhaps for men to block out opinions that might contradict their own.