Donna con Bambino

In Donna con Bambino, Shag brings us into domestic, yet lavish homes of women and their pet pigs, monkeys, armadillos and skunks, lounging about, cool, yet aloof to the unfolding tragedies airing live on their television sets.

Donna con Bambino, held in late 2006 in New York, was a deliberate diversion from past settings of bars and nightclubs that Shag so often portrays. The exhibit was also a departure from the typical Shag exhibition. In addition to the 17 original themed paintings, Shag, for the first time, created larger, abstract paintings on canvas, which were actual close ups of the 17 original works.

         

The literal translation of the show’s title means “Woman and Child.” Many women, whether parents or not, often see their pets as their children. In Shag’s portrayal, woman and child is really more like “hip chic” and “exotic pet”. While there are a few traditional pets like cats and dogs found in the lavish interiors, there are many more unexpected ones, as you might come to actually expect within a Shag painting. In Ariane, for example, a rather dressed up Ariane seems to be lounging to the nines in her exotic interior, which features a large port window to the aquarium housing her pet otter.  Like the other women depicted in the series, she is unfazed by the live broadcast on TV, in her case a Wizard of Oz-like tornado dangerously close to a farm house.

While not necessarily intended, collectively each of the works could be a reflection on modern day media. In today’s world, we are one channel away from a natural disaster, a hostage crisis, a poison scare, a car chase, a controversial missile launch, or an airline bound for a water landing. Interestingly, Shag has depicted all of these events live on the women’s vintage TV sets. With further contemplation, maybe the lack of care to the events unfolding on their televisions isn’t really aloofness at all. Maybe the works go beyond the reflection of today’s media, and speak of the desensitization these everyday images have on today’s cultures.

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