The Loves of Aaron Burr: Portraits in Corsetry & Binding by Dominique Nabokov
New York Review of Books. Aug. 19th, 2013
In the introduction to her exhibition, “The Loves of Aaron Burr: Portraits in Corsetry and Binding,” Camilla Huey describes the show as a “series of portraits, exploring the letters, published works and lives of a mere eight women who knew, loved, wrote to and were mentored by Aaron Burr.” Huey, a couture artist who has designed gowns for celebrities like Oprah, Janet Jackson, and Katy Perry in her garment district atelier, has created eight imaginative and erotic corsets, each one meant to evoke the personality of one of Burr’s eight different loves. Into each Huey has bound writing by the different women, which are then “interleaved with transcribed letters between signatures of rag paper.” Huey demonstrates in this exhibition a sense of perfection, elegance, and wit. She admirably shows how Burr’s loves were, in some sense, a kind of early symbol of Women’s Liberation.
The exhibition is being held in the Morris-Jumel Mansion, the one-time home of Burr’s final wife, the socialite Madame Eliza Jumel. As a French girl in search of the unexpected in New York City, I was charmed by the Mansion, built in the Palladian style in 1765. Perched on the highest top of Harlem at the corner of 160th Street and Edgecomb Avenue, in the middle of a lovely garden currently undergoing restoration, the mansion is surrounded by a row of beautiful Victorian houses. Nearby is Sylvan Terrace, an enchanting neighborhood full of nineteenth-century Italianate row houses.
Each time I visit the place, it feels as if I am making a trip to some exotic country.
The Morris-Jumel Mansion is open Wednesday-Sunday, 10 AM-4 PM, closed Monday and Tuesday. For more information, please visitmorrisjumel.org.