Using a standard format of thirty-by-forty inches, Objects of Desire is comprised of five sub-series, each focusing on the colors and formal attributes of a specific cultural arena. While the first group examines the language of gender and sexuality with an emphasis on the color red, Objects of Desire II (1985-86) directs its attention to the concept of nature, as a kind of ideal or fantasy in our popular imaginations. Proffered against a royal green expanse, the silhouette of a single goat with a crown of red flowers arouses visions of pagan or indigenous ceremonies. By removing all of its contextual signifiers, Charlesworth dissects the object’s latent history, usage, and connotations.
Themes of religion and spirituality unite Objects of Desire III (1986). Here images of gods, figureheads, and classical icons from art history or archeology consider society’s desire for transcendental enlightenment. In some, Charlesworth presents a single, centralized referent—such as Madonna (1986), in which a sea of cool grey draws out the space between the icon’s unresolved meaning and the viewer’s appeal for ontological closure. In other works, such as El Dorado (1986) and Gold (1986), the artist presents a multiplicity of objects, mimicking the abundant tableaus of advertising, editorials, and graphic design.