After the shock of disintegrating, fleshy rubber, quivering phallic sculptures, and terrifying performance dynamics washes over you, Paul McCarthy’s video and performance work isn’t something you can readily flush out of your mind. It sticks with you. Since the ’60s, McCarthy’s work has been rife with sickness, but mesmerizing, raw, dark, manic. Often, his protagonists, masked, hoisted up with props, engage in some mad cathartic activity — like “painting” — and interact wildly with the sculptural landscape and props, which can be anything from rusted cans of vintage ketchup to gender-bending plastic dolls to fuzzy teddy bears.
All the terrifying miscellany of uniforms, pots, pans, and other objects de jour were collected and stored in suitcases and trunks. In 1983, the artist dug them out and exhibited them as a sculpture. He started cataloging the loot. Each tangential artifact of his notorious oeuvre was photographed against a lurid bright background, captured in detail in all its distress and grime. The group of photographs, known as “PROPO,” and are going on display at Hauser Wirth in Zürich beginning tomorrow. Rustle through his delightfully bizarre trunk in our gallery.