(Photos: Karissa Gall)

(Photos: Karissa Gall)

Andra Ursuta’s new solo exhibit is, well, a lot to swallow. “Alps,” which opened at New Museum last night, is rimmed by artificial rock-climbing walls with colorful, penis-shaped holds– some are flaccid, some are erect, all are sculpted by the Romanian-born, New York-based artist. Within the walls are cavities that, according to a press release, resemble “eye sockets as vacant as peep holes (or glory holes).”

Andra Ursuta speaks to attendees.

Andra Ursuta speaks to attendees.

As with any work of art, “Alps” is open to interpretation. A gay friend joked that the exhibition sounds like a typical Friday night. Female friends interpreted it as commentary on gender inequality and female oppression. However, during an interview quoted in the release, Ursuta told artistic director Massimiliano Gioni that she doesn’t see herself as a feminist artist, “or even as a female artist.”

Andra Ursuţa: Alps

“It was never my intention to take on the patriarchy– not more than the matriarchy, at least. If I’m against anything, it is authority, including my own,” she told him.

Andra Ursuţa: Alps

The climbing walls are meant to evoke the Alps, which have taken on new significance in light of new waves of migration to Europe. In an essay provided by New Museum, assistant curator Natalie Bell writes that the walls, alongside earlier works (especially a 2012 sculpture inspired by a news image of a Roma woman being deported from France), offer commentary “on the impulse to guard and fortify borders– and yet as artificial walls they also assert a sort of perverse sexuality, embodying a dynamic of desire stimulated and denied.”

Andra Ursuţa: Alps

Something for a certain presidential candidate to ponder.

Andra Ursuţa: Alps

“Andra Ursuta: Alps” is on view until June 19 on the fourth floor of the New Museum, 235 Bowery.