The Peeling, Danaya Khartchenko, Summer Gallery Night 2012

In the Frederick Layton Gallery, propped up on a small shelf a couple of well-worn sketch books atypically invite peering. They appear weightless, floating with the levity of their contents. Next to them, a 11×17 or so framed movie style poster reads The Peeling, in thin modern san serif script, set on a putrid green gradient background ascending to off-tan.

As if chosen from a casting call staged in Danaya Khartcheko’s sketch book, a particularly oxymoron-ironic character plucked from an audition line of seductive to absurd beta anime illustrations poses shyly in the center of the poster, thick spiraled horns draping downward like pig tails, big innocent eyes gaping. It’s Twiggy. She’s the star of Khartcheko‘s animated mini-drama playing on a nearby flat screen.

Ripe Banana, opposite Twiggy in The Peeling, menacing, intensely yellow and obese, sits onerously on a table grimacing and grumbling. I’m fighting hard to continue discerning the plot, I think I am hallucinating at this point, but as I recall a powerful dandy of a man chose Ripe Banana as an ingredient for his next dessert. Twiggy, taken by the dandy’s influence, must do the peeling honors while the he engages in other worldly fancies.

Compelled and ready for action, Twiggy maintains her demure temperament a few unsuspecting moments before springing to the table, confronting Ripe Banana with a swift chomp to the skin. In the end, picking its own time to go, Ripe Banana gets peeled, smelly and wasted.

Short and enjoyable, Khartchenko’s animated piece falls somewhere between National Film Board of Canada and Tim Burton stylistically and tells a dark but humorous story accompanied by rhythms from The Scissors Sisters, proving traditional animation techniques are well worth staying around. Series in the making? Let’s hope so.

The closing of MIAD’s 2012 Juried Senior Thesis Exhibition coincided with the 25th Anniversary of Gallery Night in Milwaukee.

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