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Sterling Ruby's "ACTS/WS ROLLIN," from 2011.

Sterling Ruby's "ACTS/WS ROLLIN," from 2011. ROBERT WEDEMEYER

The ghastly, glistening beauty of Sterling Ruby’s new show at the Institute of Contemporary Art begs a question, right from the start: Should we buy the line — artist as outsider, rebel with a cause? That’s harder than it used to be, and not for just for Ruby’s ascendant career. With the art world turning inside-out in recent years — simmering with social critique-infused form, history interrogated for the narrow tale it is — Ruby, through no fault of his own, now lands awfully close to the center.

Does that make him an inside-outsider?

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