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The large-scale posters and elaborate architectural models that make up Tracey Snellings exhibition Mystery Hour depict imaginary B movies whose premises are as facetious as they are seductively lurid: She was married to a walking dead man! declares the oversize poster Forbidden (all works 2013) in LED lights against a bodice-ripper tableau. Using sculptural assemblages and miniature models, the artist creates archetypal worlds from middle- and lowbrow genre films, like the horror movie setting of Danger Mountain, complete with a run-down motel situated precariously atop a winding hill and a swing set perched over a deadly cliff.
The mesmerizing, sinister scenes herecreepy secluded gas stations, a barely visible something in a car trunk left ajar in a darkened alleyare wryly presented with winks to the viewer, such as dribbles of paint running down the sides of pieces. And in many ways the show is about the aesthetics of wicked pleasure. The scale models of ominous hotels and housesall projecting clips from different, often unidentifiable, films in their windows on tiny LCD screensencourage our basest instincts to peer into the lives of strangers. The overall effect alternates between uncanny Hitchcockian voyeurism and pure pastiche, as in Zombie Island, whose undead bathe in a lagoon with an LCD screen featuring shark-attack footage.
The thrill of looking in Mystery Hour at first seems merely cynical and cheaply erotica hard-boiled flick done up in a shocking pink paletteespecially given the many sex scenes projected in film clips. But in addition to embodying the genres of thriller and horror into make-believe set pieces, Snelling has also captured their gendered underpinnings. Two neon signs in red and fuchsia which illuminate the rest of the show suggest distillations of the underlying messages in such films; Desire flickers between desire and dire, while She-Evil alternates with she-devil. Both suggest that the real horror in Snellings world of grown-up dollhouses is libido rather than the threat of physical harm.