GooseFlesh and BoneHead

The improbability of male intimacy has long been one of Dolores Wilber’s artistic obsessions. In her last piece, Getalong Little Doggie, she put three men and a 12-year-old boy through an elaborate, ultimately ridiculous bonding ritual: standing for long stretches with their faces mere inches apart, they showed just how distant they were from one another. She created her new GooseFlesh and BoneHead in collaboration with fellow Wholesale members Michael Stumm and Molloy Golden, who perform the work. And here it seems that intimacy between men is not only unlikely but unimaginable: rather than engage each other, Stumm and Golden serenade, ornament, and dance with life-size cardboard cutouts of themselves–and the occasional cardboard cutout dog. Lumbering, barrel-chested Golden keeps fastening jaunty ties around his surrogate neck as though sending himself to the prom. Meanwhile the wiry, impish Stumm does his best to get his paper friend to dance with him. In one of the most touching moments, Stumm cozies up to his two-dimensional self and rests his head ever so gently on his own cardboard shoulder. These are guys who “just don’t get it,” to use Wilber’s words, but the piece’s gentle playfulness steers the evening away from male bashing. Instead these men–like many others in Wilber’s work–are endearing and pitiable, limping through life imagining that their vulnerabilities are under lock and key. GooseFlesh and BoneHead is the first piece Wholesale has created as part of its residency at Union Park, and we can all feel an extra bit of civic pride that the Chicago Park District is now producing some of the most demanding, progressive work in the city. Union Park field house auditorium, 1501 W. Randolph (enter at Ogden and Lake), 773-252-1717. Opens Thursday, April 6, 7:30 PM. Through April 14: Thursdays-Fridays, 7:30 PM. $10.

–Justin Hayford

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Dan Rest.