© 2007 Herb Ascherman
Herb Ascherman's show "BODIES: 1967 - 2007," opened last Friday at the Corcoran Fine Arts Gallery in Cleveland.
The show is stunning, but difficult as well. The images are evocative, beautiful, honest ... the battery of meaningless adjectives could go on and on but it cannot begin to aptly represent the show the way the above graphic does. Although I didn't consider any of the photographs to be pornographic, they are certainly graphic. And how strange it was for this no-holds-barred Girl Writer to feel a bit uncomfortable among so many sexual images.
It wasn't the images that shook my balance, but the other people at the opening. They were a completely normal sampling of folk, fully clothed, noshing on cheese and sipping Chardonnay. But I didn't know them. They were strangers. And standing in front of a suspension bondage image while I knew nothing about the person next to me was ... a little freaky.
Was that sixtyish man puzzling over the image of the spread-eagle woman hanging from a rack aroused? Offended? Shocked? Relieved? Repulsed? Irritated at the woman next to him (me) whose face kept tocking back and forth between the image and him as she tried to gauge his reaction? Maybe all of the above.
Hence, the ironic truth is that I was more interested in the viewers than the images at times. I guess that's completely appropriate. The viewers changed the show from a roomful of pictures to a living dynamic experience. It surprised, embarrassed and delighted me. I desperately wanted to ask people how the images made them feel, but how?
If you're local, I urge you to see the show. Here are some additional preview images. Most of the prints were $400 to $450. For the record, I asked Herb how much he thought a nude Erin O'Brien would go for. He didn't name a price. He just said, "Whatever we could get for it."
"I'm guessing at least $35," I countered, but Herb had already turned to charm another woman.