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“The Monroe Doctrine”
  • “The Monroe Doctrine”

Never mind 15 minutes of fame; Jericho artist Chris Cleary is offering 15 seconds. Actually, what he’s offering is not so much fame as an imitation of fame. Talk about meta. One of the most enduring and iconic images in American pop culture is the “wind skirt” shot of Marilyn Monroe standing over a subway grate, dress flying upward. Taken for, and then deleted from, the 1955 film The Seven Year Itch, the scene has inspired a new and totally unique, uh, homage.

Cleary — whose copper-pipe sculpture at the Flynndog was reviewed in last week’s Seven Days — is rigging his shower-like installation, titled “Sweat,” with a compressor at the bottom that will shoot air upwards when a cord is pulled. At a First Friday Art Walk event this week, he’ll be inviting visitors to don a blond wig and white halter dress (which he’s supplying), stand inside the sculpture, pull the cord and “do a Marilyn.” Why? Perhaps for no better reason than “Burlington is full of likeminded freaks like me,” Cleary offers. His friend, photographer Matthew Thorsen, will shoot stills and video of all the Marilyns this Friday. The resulting photo montage, Cleary says, will be called “The Monroe Doctrine.”

As of last week, Cleary had lined up only “hairy men,” he notes, and expresses hope that some “good-looking women” will volunteer, too. What will happen to the photos? “I don’t know yet,” Cleary admits. “Perhaps keep it going, maybe put [the sculpture] on Church Street next summer.” One thing he knows for sure: This “shower scene” will only take about 15 seconds per person — not including wriggling in and out of that dress.

Cleary’s work is part of the three-person exhibit “Fluid Dynamics” at the Flynndog in Burlington. Visitors can get their picture taken as Marilyn Monroe during the First Friday Art Walk on February 3, 6-9 p.m.

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