Lacan’s Imaginary Order is that slice of our psyche wherein our fantasy representations of ourselves and our desires spring to technicolor life. If we could extract it, paint it on canvas or project it on a screen, onlookers would no doubt find our photoshopped likenesses to be unbearably quaint. The Toilet Train Series that closed recently at Magnet recreates that space between the Real and Symbolic Orders focusing on those anxieties that appear during early childhood when control of our bodies is subjected to rigid discipline. But Lisandro Rome Perez has uploaded a virus into the system that makes manifest where our desire to conform meets our self image head on. The mirror is cracked.
The floppy haired storybook children in their Neverland early Twentieth Century middy blouses and stockings are the picture of innocence. But they float about the space they seek to inhabit, protected by shimmering aureoles. In naivete one fiddles with toilet paper rolls: for the moment they still inhabit the world of play, where objects can represent whatever is wished. In another the subject’s gaze rests uneasily on the more concrete-looking toilet bowl. An additional leg sprouts from the child’s pelvis: the idealized image has come under attack, the body is no longer familiar or natural. Drifting about the background of both works are tiny globules of bodily waste, their presence as objects not yet rectified with their new symbolic importance. Whereas we may imagine ourselves always half-turned to show off a strong profile, lit just right, Perez illustrates the ways in which our psychological self-modeling comes under attack, especially in childhood where new demands made upon behavior wage war with life-long consequences. Our egos hold onto the hope for the perfect headshot, but are forever snapping away, producing rolls of unusable negatives that are squirreled away from our appraisal.