By Mark Greek and Brianna Peterson
Anyone walking past the TAC gallery from March 5 through March 10 may have witnessed Stony Brook’s most willing exhibitionists since those girls who smoke and hula hoop in Roosevelt Quad. But some of these asses are actually worth looking at. The Ass Project (“TAP That!”) had a successful run in the gallery, featuring side-by-side comparisons of derrieres with and without their pants, sculpted heinies and good, old-fashioned booty flicks.
Stony Brook students Greta Essig, Jessica Rybak and Krissy Rubbles were the masterminds behind the mass ass display.
“This has been my dream for some time now,” Essig said with pictures of various Stony Brook students’ derrieres plastered literally, and figuratively, behind her. “I like butts. I’ve liked them ever since I was 16 and I started taking pictures of people’s butts—and lots of them.” The photos showed both bare and clothed posteriors, allowing observers to see the startling difference that clothing has on how the butt actually looks. The students had fun criticizing each rear end and trying (fairly successfully) to pick out their friends on the wall.
“We just asked people” Essig said. “People just want to show their ass. Everyone wanted to do it.”
Besides the photos, the rest of the walls were lined with various colored, glittery molds. Made from Yankee Candle wax, two of the molds retained the scents of Evergreen and Sugar Cookie. When they heard this, many of the students decided to sniff the molds—some for an unacceptable amount of time. It’s hard to find fault in their free-spirited attitude, however. Signs beckoning you to “Tap this ass” were situated under various pieces.
Not only was the gallery a learning experience for the viewers, but for one of the artists, as well.
“I didn’t have an interest from a young age,” Rybak said. “So that’s why I wanted to do it. Because I wanted to learn. I hated butts. Not butts…but I hated my butt and I wanted to learn why I should love it, and I found the right people to do it with and I accomplished it.”
One of the pieces, a video with live-action booty activity was a highlight of the gallery. It featured the vulgar and raw qualities of the ass as a whole. Butts were used as canvas for smearing fast food and writing various messages. Playing throughout the video was strange and ominous music that worked well with the foreign images occurring on-screen. The television was located in the back of the gallery, facing away from everything else and had various warning signs on and around it, and for good reason. Each person watching it had a different reaction and a different understanding of what was happening. For every “urgh” and “eww” there was an “ooo” and “ahh, that’s a butthole.”
“Some people don’t get it, but I mean there’s a lot to say about them” Essig said. “There’s a lot of art that’s been made about the vagina—ceramic vaginas, vagina monologues—and there’s a lot to say. But there’s a lot to say about butts, too. They’re sexual, they’re vulgar. You shit, but they’re really beautiful and I really just appreciate the shape and the form.”
The gallery sent a message of acceptance, not only of your own body and sexuality, but those of others as well. But, to be frank, there was only one real reason anyone dared attend this event, and Rubbles put it most eloquently: “People like butts.”