Saturday, 8 July 2006
Donald Urqhart's 'Glory Hole' outside mural
Dean Sameshima's gay mute sign language
avaf's 'Sodomy is not a civil right' posters
Dino Dinco's Elysian Fields photographs
Dean Sameshima's LA sex club facades
documentation of Elmgreen and Dragset's Cruising Pavillion
Fernando Arias' toilet crusing video
Giles Round's drawing
cruising map of London
STH pages posters
STH reading corner
Guilherme Altmayer's Evening Standard news posters
7 – 22 July
Guilherme Altmayer (Brasil/UK), Fernando Arias (Colombia/UK), assume vivid astro focus (international), Gil Doron (Israel/UK), Dino Dinco (USA), Elmgreen and Dragset (Denmark/Norway/Berlin), No Bra (Germany/UK), Giles Round (UK), Dean Sameshima (USA), and Donald Urquhart (UK)
Bill Arning (USA), Mark Turner (UK), Jeffrey Walkowiak (USA) and Straight to Hell (USA)
The Architecture Foundation presents ‘Glory Hole’ (7-22 July), a group exhibition exploring the place of homo-sexuality in public space. Curated by Pablo Internacional Magazine. ‘Glory Hole’ is part of the Renegade City season (Summer 2006) of exhibitions and events at The Yard Gallery, 49 Old Street, London EC1V 9HX, that explore alternative urban experiences and the diversity that exists, often unseen, within the contemporary city.
The material in the exhibition brings together work by a selection of respected international contemporary artists and illustrates how homosexual culture has traditionally occupied spaces reserved for other purposes (such as parks and toilets) into social and intimate spaces, and the contemporary situation of homosexuality and the public realm. Public space has been the setting where homosexual identity has been repressed and contested. It is in the streets, squares, parks and toilets where the battle between straight and homosexual use of space is represented. Even with today’s greater toleration toward homosexual practices, the use of public space as a space not only for sexual encounters but for the construction of identity continues to be an option to those that because of different reasons do not fit into society’s expectations of sexual and homosexual identity.
‘Glory Hole’ focus is on the modification of public homosexual practices in cities in the age of gaydar and gay marriage, and on the restriction of sexual practices in public spaces surveyed and invigilated by a predominantly heterosexual society. The exhibition will look at the re-appropriation of public buildings and spaces for sexual activity as well as the ghetto-isation of homosexual practices.
Entering the gallery’s Yard, the visitor is met by a Glory Hole sign created by Donald Urquhart using his own Spunk Font. The Yard will also be the site for a performance during the opening by No Bra, whose song lyrics are taken from conversation and pick up lines No Bra’s singer has been collecting. Upon entering the gallery, the visitor passes through a ribbon curtain like the ones found in sex shops, a reminder that the material in the exhibition might offend certain sensibilities and is not suitable for underage audiences.
Visitor’s to the exhibition are welcomed by Dean Sameshima’s Untitled (Mutual Blow Job), the silent language of deaf-mutes becomes a metaphor for the silent and secret language of homosexual cruising, gazes and contact. Meanwhile avaf’s Homocrap posters remind us that although gay lifestyle has been comodified, there are still other manifestations of masculinity and sexuality outside the branded gay one. The posters also remind us of the resistance of many segments of society to Homosexual life. Other works in the exhibition make reference to the other life of public and private spaces, and their use as places for the sexual encounter of masculinities. Dino Dinco photographs cruising grounds in Elysian Park in downtown Los Angeles a meeting place for men, may Latino’s who have an outlet to explore and discover their own homosexuality in the park. Dean Sameshima’s photographs the anonymous facades of sex clubs in Los Angeles capture a discreet architecture that does little to reveal their purpose. Elmgreen and Dragset’s Cruising Pavilion, built for a park in Denmark, combines the white cube gallery aesthetic with a cruising space indicate the need of creating spaces for the sexual meeting of men, while challenging the image of cruising in the public’s imaginary from a seedy one to a more aseptic one. Public Inconvenience a video by Fernando Arias presents a homage to the toilet institution and a powerfull and intimate insight into the social choreographies and tensions that are brought to the surface in a (now closed) London public toilet. Once a traditional place for the sexual liberation of anonymous men, most public toilets in London have been closed down, the remaining ones have been architectonically modified and are constantly surveyed and raided. Actions like this have made the internet a safer cruising ground for men, Giles Round coloured drawing with pixelated aesthetic, With That You Turned And Walked Out Of My Life Forever, refers to the romantic element existing in this fugitive encounters. Other works relate to the use of the city as a place of encounter. Copies of cult New York seventies magazine presents male sexual encounters before the Aids Crisis and the mainstreaming of Homosexuality. A research map by Pablo Magazine documents an ever-changing map of cruising places in London, for this it uses data available in the website squirt.org in which its users inform each other of the use and closure of cruising spaces. Through posters and flyers members of the Reclaim the Square group promote activisim as a way of reclaiming cruising grounds, specially of Rusell Square a historical and traditional cruising ground which was closed in 2002. As part of the exhibition, Gil Doron will distribute business cards, in which he invites the receiver to two minutes of silence in reminder of Jody Dobrowski, a 24 year old murdered in a homophobic attack while cruising in Clapham Common in October 22, 2005. Doron argues, that if safer cruising grounds existed this could have been avoided. Finally, Guilherme Altmayer’s news posters offer a happy and utopian ending to the exhibition, the re-opening of cruising grounds in central London, where men from different ages, classes, nationalities and lifestyles can meet sexually in a safe environment.
The controversies surrounding the exhibition by the UK press (The Sun, ‘Gay sex art gets tax cash’ 16/06/2006), makes obvious the need to discuss these issues. The relevance of the exhibition happening in The Architectural Foundation demonstrates the importance of the topic to architecture and urban design. As Bill Arning states on his text on the exhibition pamphlet: “Over a dinner recently with a professor of urban planning, Mike Fritsch, he stated that all the urban planning still starts from a presumption of universal heterosexuality, and the good-of-the-people the planners intend to serve should actually always be understood as really meaning straight families. That being so, planners tend to erase queer spaces without ever considering their activities, violent or intrusive. He said he asked his students whether or not that would always be so or could they imagine a truly inclusive planning. The question remains open.”
Rowan Moore, Director of The Architecture Foundation says “Glory Hole describes an aspect of cities that is as universal as coffee shops, yet is generally overlooked in discussions about urbanism. We believe that insight into cities’ sexual spaces is an essential part of understanding them as a whole.”
Elias Redstone, curator at The Architecture Foundation, comments: “Renegade City is an opportunity to look at the way people use contemporary cities and public spaces. Not just the common perception of society, but how it allows for different experiences, freedom and forms of expression.”
Glory Hole is possible thanks to the support of Blow de la Barra, Bistrotheque, Galerie Baumet Sultana, Elmgreen & Dragset, Herald Street, Alison Jacques Gallery, Maureen Paley, Javier Peres / Peres Projects.
Pablo Internacional Magazine
Pablo Internacional Magazine (‘art, men and architecture’) is edited by Pablo León de la Barra, an artist and curator and co-director of Blow de la Barra gallery. He has curated exhibitions including To Be Political it Has to Look Nice, 2003 at Apexart in New York about the relation of art and aesthetics in Latin America today, and exhibited at Localismos, 2004 Mexico City; Tropical Abstraction, 2005, Stedelijk Museum; BMW 9th Baltic Triennial, 2005, CAC-Lithuania and ICA-London and Globos Sonda/Trial Balloons, 2006, MUSAC, Spain, among others. Pablo León de la Barra studied architecture in Mexico City, an MSc in Urban Design and Development at the Bartlett/DPU at UCL, and Phd studies at the Architectural Association.
A especial issue of Pablo Magazine containing texts by Bill Arning, Mark Turner, Jeffrey Walkowiak and Dino Dinco will be published on the occasion of the exhibition.
Address: The Architecture Foundation
The Yard, 49 Old Street, London EC1 9HX.
Public opening dates: 7 – 22 July 2006
Private View: 7 July, 6 – 8.30pm (by invitation only)
Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 12pm-6pm.
Gallery is closed between exhibitions
Entry: Admission free
Transport: Tube – Barbican or Old Street
Further details: www.architecturefoundation.org.uk
Tel. 020 7253 3334