Review by Larry Snavel, PhD, University of Blah, Boston
Although she is only 2 years old and has been involved in Second Life for little more than 2 years, the artist behind the avatar, SaveMe Oh, has already created a substantial and important body of work in this new virtual medium. Her technical facility is evident nothing special, sculpting she never tried, the works seems a combination of stealing and copy and paste but it is so fucking irresistible because it is all done with simply using the old fashioned Second Life tools, creating montages of found real-life kitsch combined with the always overwhelming present images of herself. It is not the works she produces. She is the work herself.
For all her expertise, however, her technical imperfection is not a trick, but the vehicle for communicating a depth of feeling that ranges from the most playful light heartedness to the darkest spiritual states. In her most profound works, she expresses the extremes of this affective range in elaborating a single theme.
Consider, for example, the shit chairs; can the state of the art be defined in a more simple creation? She doesn’t hide in pseudo romantic steampunk shit where artists, suffering from credit crisis and climate change, try to invent the wheel and the steam once again like her sister Bryn Oh, who wants to relive the disaster once again, nor is she addicted to the desperate escapist works, like artists as Feathers Boa produce, who worship Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk with robotic beating hearts, revolving brains, and igniting power packs. SaveMe Oh doesn’t have to bring us back to those charmed moments of childhood when joy and imagination were fused in play, SaveMe Oh is always playing, it’s her second nature. And while playing she presents us a mirror as an emblem of the downfall of everything beautiful and free. In her installation as a whole the elements of darkness and joy are linked in the promise of a fragile redemption, one that must be wrested, perhaps only temporarily, from the most difficult moments of our lives.
Many of the artist’s remarkable interactive works also convey this subtle theme. For example, in the piece titled “Hairy Pussy,” a voluptuous hairy pussy is trapped in the machinery of what appears to be a gigantic censor stamp. There is a powerful life-force in every single pubic hair, but her living flesh is frozen, encased in a thin layer of ice. The pussy stretches her lips out toward the viewer pleading for release, but as the viewer approaches the piece, its icy surface swallows the visitor, both reinforcing and overwhelming the imploring gesture. We want to reach into the artwork, take the hairy pussy in our hand, pull the censor stamp away and worship her by the fire, but redemption is not that easily won. We can free one another from lonely imprisonment in the depths of our insular selves – so the artist seems to say – but it will require a love that goes beyond momentary inclination.
The sensitive viewer will undoubtedly discover treasures in the artist’s work that exceed what I have described. Like all genuine art, her creations resist easy paraphrase. But we are fortunate to have in Second Life an artist who challenges our perceptive abilities with material so richly significant. She promises nothing less than to illuminate a human condition in which vulnerability and transcendence are inseparably intertwined.