Ladies at the Circus Like to Look at the Bear

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
1988
Artificial fur, ball bearing, tin, enamel, Bondo, and Splash Zone compound on wood
48 x 97 inches

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Even in his earliest surviving works, the middle-aged Dial, having already reached psychological maturity, understood full well the functioning of otherness in cultural relations.

Even in his earliest surviving works, the middle-aged Dial, having already reached psychological maturity, understood full well the functioning of otherness in cultural relations. From 1988, Ladies at the Circus Like to Look at the Bear tells us all we need to know about the social spectacle of the raw and how Dial accesses his aesthetic insights through observations of culture and behavior, rather than artworks. Dial significantly made this black male a bear, not a tiger. The tiger’s struggle would be lost on these white ladies, who prefer the more sexual, wooly, pleasure-loving bear they regard with longings and revulsions proportionate to its exoticism. The tiger had, in spite of itself, been the white man’s hypocritical and controlling notion of black nobility; the bear, for all its falseness, was more genuine to the reality of intercultural longings. The voice of the bear, Dial realized, is Dial’s natural style and his artificial style.