The Lure Of Delicate Untruths (2009)

There seems to be a problem. The steel signposts all point to one direction, and yet they contain no names. The shadows of the cryptic words punched in through these steel plates hauntingly hang on the white walls, as if about to fall down with a weight unbearable. The same word shadows are cast on the wall by light passing through sheer white curtain with cursive words sown in. One feels distraught seeing these things—words are cheap but Nikki Luna manages to further alienate language by rendering them as shadows. One recalls Plato’s Myth of the Cave wherein captives are shown shadows on walls and made to believe these represent reality. Until one escaped and looked the other way. The Lure of Delicate Untruths is just that. Luna visualizes for us that cave of folly—of faltering words and shadows of intimacy, as shown in a whole cabinet made up of separate lightboxes with various family photos. On the other end are two hardbound volumes of handmade paper made of recycled letters to and from the artist, and a record of confessions layered on top of each other. Luna’s melancholic gibberish gives the word speechless another dimension. It has come to this point—and this is what the artist has finally realized when she looked the other way—language is not enough a vessel to say what matters most. Hence, this different kind of confession. She divulges and keeps secrets at the same time in the form of texts that she has subdued by physically dissolving them—as spaces, as shadows, as fabric, as recycled paper, and as merged soundbytes. In her tradition of exhibiting the absent female, Luna yet again manages to give us a peek of a reality/truth, whose confession (or non-confession) will ultimately exonerate her. But, of course, it leaves us in the dark. The deluge of these halves/not-quite-wholes and secret-truths subjects us to a different kind of shadow play that radiates insane illicit Victorian eroticism, ultimately capturing this art/artist. Doing thus, Luna augments what Foucault calls the “discoursification” of sexuality. The Foucauldian politics of confession deconstructs the age-old notion of sexual repression. The flesh was “brought down to the level of the organism,” through incessant confession, to be studied. The end of such practice, as with all forms of discourse, has eventually led to the creation of centers of power that continue to govern over social relations. These are always Luna’s premises—unfettered female sexuality navigating present constricting social structures. Verbose, masturbatory, cathartic, purging--Luna forcefully wrings out the sex in the everyday and wrangle the meaning from language to finally deliver a polite up yours to those who have sinned against her, whilst, of course, paying necessary homage to the Powers that be. Adjani Guerrero Arumpac