My Deep Secret

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    Will Sheldon, The Spiderwebs, 2018. Acrylic paint, canvas, thread & dental floss, fabric.

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    Installation view of My Deep Secret, Arcadia Missa.

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    Reba Maybury, Precious Expressions, 2018. Wooden painted vitrine containing the precious expressions of Mistress Rebecca's submissive men, executed under her orders, perspex cover.

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    Reba Maybury, Precious Expressions, 2018. Wooden painted vitrine containing the precious expressions of Mistress Rebecca's submissive men, executed under her orders, perspex cover.

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    Installation view of My Deep Secret, Arcadia Missa.

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    Will Sheldon, Small Web, 2018. Acrylic paint, canvas, thread & dental floss, fabric

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    Reba Maybury, Submissions, 2018. A4 folder containing a selection of applications to serve from different submissive men

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    Will Sheldon, Looking for Eggs, 2018. Acrylic paint, canvas, thread & dental floss: 121.5 × 91 × 2.3 cm

My Deep Secret

Reba Maybury & Will Sheldon

7th July – 3rd August 2018

Opening Hours: Wednesday – Saturday 11-6pm

A small room, wallpapered with canvas bearing the work of painter, illustrator, and tattoo artist Will Sheldon. In the center of the room, writer, artist, and dominatrix Reba Maybury has placed a vitrine containing artifacts submitted by her submissives, having asked them for things that reflect their interests and cultural taste. The resulting experience is immersive and museum-like, almost rococo.

As noted by Maybury (Mistress Rebecca to her submissives)–vitrines are most often seen holding “the stolen objects of colonized peoples”. Here instead are donated objects occasionally accompanied by devotional blurbs, little dedications of fear and admiration for their Mistress. Among several portraits done in the likeness of Mistress Rebecca, one screen-print of her visage and neck dominates against a backdrop of the wild cosmos and is punctuated not with a body, but an enormous stiletto PVC boot. We see a framed sheet of Holiday Inn stationary bearing handwritten lyrics to the Red Hot Chili Peppers song “Dosed.” The lyrics are telling of the shallow adoration (and perhaps resentment) this sub feels for the artist: “I got dosed by you, and closer than most to you, and what am I supposed to do, take it away, I never had it anyway…” One photograph from a sub, titled “€350 down the drain”, features his recently purchased “practical” apparel. Jeans and a leather bomber jacket–an expensive, self-conscious and milquetoast derivative of the archetypal mid-century bad boy. The submissives’ oblations are not, in a superficial sense, secretive. Most are ludicrously earnest, but they bely a stagnating self-awareness. The piece is a exploration of absurdity in banality, or as Maybury describes it, “the museum of redundant masculinity.”

Will Sheldon’s brilliantly painted “wallpaper,” as well as other works of his, tend towards a psychedelic playfulness and furtivity. There are sneaky, mischievous, reticent creatures; the objects they spy, snuffle, and pad amongst; and the stirring relationship between them. Sheldon’s work speaks to the original format of a fairy tale–grotesque and slightly hostile. Fractured, oozing eggs and peering, smoldering eyes, bones littered about, stiletto platform boots, flowers, fruit, inscrutable oozes. Some creatures are distinctly feral in their fantasticism. Others are a more anthropomorphized goblinesque: narrowed gazes above chic sunglasses, coquettish and slightly smirking, as if in possession of a private joke. A cosmic joke? A quiet joke about you, the voyeur? Both seem feasible. This world engages through peeking out and peeking in, leaving behind a tantalizing and just-inaccessible contact.

Friends and collaborators of several years, both artists’ work consistently explore voyeurism and exhibitionism, sex, the grotesque, fragility, masking, delusion and the “real”, and extracting the latter from the former. Sheldon’s feral sets of eyes are matched in a photograph of Maybury’s, a submissive’s eyes dolefully peering through a surrounding overlay of revolting, Pepto-Bismol-pink opaque paint (“The Colour of My Skin”). The secrets of a non-linear dimension are bolstered and reflected in the brash, cerebral exploration of the privileged male psyche, and vice versa. Each body of work could stand on its own as confrontational and unsettling, witty and bizarre, but the symbiosis of the immensely different styles and mediums create the pleasure of this surreal little museum.
– Molly Edminster

Reba Maybury is a writer, political dominatrix and lecturer. She is the founder of Wet Satin Press and, in 2017, she published her first novella ‘Dining with Humpty Dumpty’. She teaches a program in subversive thinking at Central Saint Martins on the Fashion Masters. Her work has recently been exhibited at Paramount Ranch with Shoot the Lobster (2016); Karma International, Los Angeles (2017) and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York (2018) as a part of ‘Putting Out’ which Maybury curated with Taylor Trabulus. She has performed readings at Cleopatra’s, New York; Bridget Donahue, New York; Donna Huanca’s Studio, Berlin; The Community, Paris; Schloss, Oslo; Royal College of Art, London; Claire de Rouen, London; HER, London; and Fanfare x NXS, Amsterdam.

Will Sheldon lives and works in New York. He received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2013. His work was previously the subject of solo exhibitions at Cleopatra’s and White Columns (both New York, 2017), and has been included in the group shows ‘Prick Up Your Ears’ at Karma International (Los Angeles); ‘Altered’, Company Gallery (New York) and Romeo Upstate (New York) amongst others.