Daryl Vocat. Another Fun Idea at Gallery X 491 Church St. April 7-May 2, 2003
By: Ian Mcnulty
These days, with war crimes in progress, nothing is less attractive than a man in uniform. That's one of the reasons Daryl Vocat's exhibition Another Fun Idea comes at a perfect time. Focussing on Boy Scouts--the larva of modern military--Vocat embroiders onto Army Surplus blankets images that look like they are straight out of the Scout handbook. The replication of illustrations from the Hardy Boys era is flawless. All the boys have the same earnest eyes and perfect Baden-Powell hairdos. Their joyful mouths are upturned semi-circles, and their nipples, navels, and Adam's apples are simple dots. Vocat doesn't focus on the competitive elements of Boy Scouts. He adapts verbatim guidebook quotes to show the boys engaged in stereotypically feminine tasks. In "Treat Living Creatures With Respect" a boy tends matronly to a ladybug in a jar. In "Knot Tying Is A Practical Skill," two boys knit together while one playfully entwines the other's hands with wool. This is a glimpse into a utopian world where the uniform is a symbol of protection and nurturing. It is a stark contrast to what military types are currently doing, and what makes Another Fun Idea both subversive and sweet at the same time.