The New Museum's 2015 Triennale "Surround Audience", an exploration of the future as we are now living it, is open to the public in New York City's Lower East Side. Standing out amidst five floors of art as sensory overload is Brooklyn-based artist Frank Benson's life-sized Juliana Huxtable sculpture.
Like Huxtable's iridescent photo and poetry series hung on the adjacent wall, which look a bit like Pierre & Gilles or Kenneth Anger's set and costume design, Benson's Juliana features a prismatic or rainbowlike finish. This sets it apart visually from Benson's other notable life-sized sculpture, Human Statue (Jessie), also crafted with 3D scanning and reproduction technology.
While Juliana is incredibly lifelike, it also feels like a simulacra that stepped out of the digital aether and reclined in our physical world. Benson's sculpture also presents viewers with a double-take opportunity; if, of course, they're unfamiliar with Huxtable.
From many angles the statue's form, like Ancient Greek and Renaissance sculptures, is beautiful in its femininity. But from the front, at a very particular vantage, the transgendered Huxtable's penis becomes visible.
Benson isn't going for shock value here. Juliana is not so much an opportunity to force an image on people transgressively, but a chance to remind viewers how fluid gender and beauty are becoming in this technological age. Indeed, if Michelangelo were making art now, he might be creating sculptures like Benson's Juliana.