Power and Poverty

In her "Power and Poverty" collection, Lina Russo explores highs and lows of the hierarchy. In "Happy President," we see a seemingly placid and content President Joseph Biden, but it does not take much to see that he is a mere puppet being manipulated by strings — pulled, perhaps the Masonic powers behind the throne.

"The Celebration of Our Beautiful Family" puts the family of Western man on display in all its perverse glory. Front and center is the pater familia accompanied by wife and child, the nuclear family curled up in front of a cozy fireplace, a cat by their side. But they are surrounded by the unlikely figures of Silvio Berlusconi, Barack Obama, and Vladimir Putin, the latter reining in Donald Trump on a leash, no less, with just a hint of sadomasochism. All in front of a porcine priest, suggestively holding the hand of a young boy. On the right, two scantily clad gay men embrace and a woman dances.

These are just some of the components of "The Family" — warm and loving, yet sordid, sexual, and dark. In her other works in this collection, Russo tackles similar contradictions.

In "The Writer," Russo takes on the lies of the media. She creates a wordmsiith who, paradoxically, may be trying to reveal the lies to expose the truth, but who, in Russo′s papier-máchè construct, is actually a product of those lies through the newspapers.

"The Money Tree," consisting of recycled wood, plastic, and paper, speaks to the nature of money as recycled garbage. And in "Arrampicata Sociale," we visually confront the ruthless reality of social climbing in which the ascent cannot take place without literally stepping on others. Unless, of course, it is possible to lend a helping hand.

And finally, in stark counterpoint to the placid serenity of Joe Biden, "The Happy President," there is "Slave," Russo′s harsh reminder of the cruelties of slavery. In this case, the bondage is of a woman who has been taken into captivity, her arms tied securely behind her back.

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