At first when I glanced into the Gatov West Gallery today I was actually a little bit surprised and offended. Surprised because I saw a giant word on the back wall that spelt out “PUSSY” in all capitals. As you can imagine, that caught my attention. After seeing that word, I saw underneath it something that said “Fianceé + Assault = Wife” and I was utterly disgusted. Then as I was talking to artist Gabriel Garcia it all started to make sense.
After my initial “What am I seeing” moment and after talking with the artist, I learned that his show was called “Toxic Masculinity”. Just the title seemed to help me comprehend the show a little bit more. Garcia’s Artist’s Statement says that “The current culture of masculinity has a negative impact on us all” and that “A man’s superior strength leads to cruelty”. One of his art pieces was a simple outline of a pig, and he said that he had three meaning behind just the pig. 1. that we are consumers of culture and media, 2. that “man can be pigs”, and 3. cops are referred to as pigs. He also stated that being a vegetarian doesn’t make you less of a man (as he said in his own words about a friend who is “meaty” himself)
Also through talking with Garcia I learned that the pictures on each wall relate to each other through ideas or personal experiences. One, for example, was about a recent event that happened in the city of Olongapo in the Philippines. A marine stationed there killed a transgender even though he found her attractive, he was disgusted that she was born a man and then changed into a woman, or maybe more disgusted with himself who found her to be pretty. Each of the works that Garcia produced are thinking of identity and sexuality and how masculinity affects women and homosexuals, maybe in a not so positive, attractive way.
Someone asked about how he came up with the idea and he referred to one of the Super Bowl commercials from the last round. It was the commercial that asked girls and boys to “run like a girl” or “hit like a girl” and how because of the stereotypes, girls were perceived as sissy lalas (as I like to call it). One thing that Garcia said that really stuck with me is that there is “A basis for all Stereotypes that are based on truths. A lot of people must be doing it to label it as a stereotype.”