This reflection is also available as a zine.
I stopped by Body//Weight by Christopher Selleck at Mia to check out the photographs, video work, and interactive mirrored installation (on view through June 25, 2023 at 2400 Third Ave S, Minneapolis 55404). As the exhibition text suggests, this show highlights “the nature of masculinity within society” using the subject matter of men who engage in weightlifting.
The U.S. Bank Gallery which houses the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP) has a specific two-room layout, and it’s always interesting to see how different artists tackle this architectural challenge. In Selleck’s case, he placed all of the video and installation work in the first room, which seemed like a smart move for setting a tone before entering the larger section of the gallery housing most of the photography work.
The video works are relatively short and repetitive, setting up brief meditative moments to consider concepts of self-regulation of weight. The videos are formally beautiful and might remind one of Bill Viola in their vertical framing and focus on singular figures and specific gestures.
The mirrored installation includes a tall slender stack of cast plaster weights on a tiny table, heightening the viewer’s self-awareness and inviting contemplation of the artist’s mention of body dysmorphia, “a disconnection between the real and imagined self.” I found it particularly poignant when one is alone in the gallery.
As I passed from the small room into the larger one, I appreciated the careful curation of images into pairs, trios, and single works for consideration. Having just passed through the first room contemplating issues of self-perception, weight control, and ideas of body sculpting, I found myself closely examining facial expressions and chosen poses. Selleck mentions he works collaboratively with his models. Voyeurism, masculinity, and vulnerability all stirred together as I walked from image to image thinking about each person making choices about how to look into the camera and position their bodies.
The time investment of weightlifting as a practice was front of mind, as well as the passage of time and how bodies are constantly in a state of flux. The futility of efforts towards controlling our bodies was clear as each image feels like a person captured for just a moment in a process of striving, whether it’s for themselves, or the approval of others.
There were also several works that felt like specifically formal studies of societal standards of beauty with the figures turned away from the camera, and the full focus on the musculature and lighting. Small indicators of individuality were present, often through tattoos. I’m limiting the images I share here to encourage people to go visit the exhibition themselves, as there are many more works to check out.
Disclosure: I first met Christopher Selleck in 2018 as an alum of the MFA program at MCAD.