The Fussy Eye: Drop by Drop

Sweaty walls.

Even given a theme, most group shows don’t hang together. Though there are other good pieces to see at Purge, the standout is what appears to be a wall of blue ceramic tears, raining toward the floor. Oh—purge as in cathartic crying, right? Well, not exactly. Beauty Sleep, by local artist Jean Prominski, addresses “how the skin can act as a barrier, and how the body filters out toxins” and the “restorative qualities of water and the curative properties of sleep.” Then the tall azure array takes on a different aspect: instead of sadness, healing. It’s as if the wall is discharging something poisonous, seeping in a manner no one would want to see back home. (If your basement walls are sweating, call a contractor, stat!) Now the installation puts you in mind of an Indian sweat lodge—remember those New Age deaths in Arizona two years ago?—or one of those violent fevers that soaks your sheets and bedclothes. It doesn’t seem so benign—less a gentle purging than a manifestation of illness, a symptom. Within our own bodies, asleep, such biological processes only seem restorative because we don’t see them—the churning of our innards, the filling of our bladders, the constant cycle of cell death and replacement that gradually depletes our telomeres as we age. Sure, you may feel better after a good night’s rest, but sometimes it’s better not to think about what’s being washed off in the shower the next morning. Each day (and night), we shed a little more youth and beauty.