Project Native Informant

Critics Pick: Juliana Huxtable, AKIMBO SPITTLE at Project Native Informant, London

September 2022

In her second solo exhibition at Project Native Informant, “AKIMBO SPITTLE,” Juliana Huxtable gives the ancient technique of palimpsest a software update. She slicks paint over her skin in wild patterns and poses theatrically for the camera, taking multiple self-portraits in her studio. She then prints the photographs onto large canvases and paints over them. Each image offers a crystallization, an archaeology, of media. Don’t ask whether Huxtable is a performer, photographer, or painter: Accept that she is everything all at once.

Within the five paintings on display here, Huxtable uses acrylics as one might Photoshop, giving herself wings, talons, and hooves to enhance and abstract her human body, bringing it closer to how she sees herself. Graduating from Tumblr to the “metaverse,” Huxtable dresses for the new cutting-edge in a kaleidoscope of animal prints, such as those worn by VR avatars. The artist has been openly seduced by digital life; the exhibition reflects her ongoing fascination with internet “zoosexuality.” In many ways, the cosplay fetish of furries is but a contemporary figuration of the fantastical creatures populating mythology.

The encounter between the human and the bestial on the level of Huxtable’s body draws attention to the limits of identity in the stories society tells itself. Centering herself in these paintings formally and conceptually, the artist mythologizes her own image, using themes of futurity to recast the presiding narratives about the bodies we inhabit.

— Roísín Tapponi

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