The new work of the Berlin artist Florian Hetz was created in the winter of 2018 during an artist residency at Tom of Finland Foundation in Los Angeles. For three months Hetz portrayed the life and sexuality of gay men in the Echo Park district. He photographed his models in sessions lasting several hours and hundreds of photographs were taken. The extract of those are now on view in Germany for the first time.
Hetz deconstructs, dissects and sexualizes the bodies of his models. He mainly shows body fragments and details: trained physique, muscles, hair, faces and genitals fill the photos. Close ups of objects and plants complete the picture of a fragmented community, a community that has been repeatedly broken up by discrimination, violence and HIV. This community of gay men does not let anyone take away their yearning for beauty, closeness, fun and fusion, but fights for the right for a self-determined and joyful life.
Last year I contacted Florian and we decided to do a solo exhibition of his new work. Florian spent three months as artist-in-residence at Tom of Finland Foundation where, with his camera, he observed the life and sexuality of gay men in L.A. and returned with a series of amazing photographs that reflect his unique and explicit approach. –Frederik Busch
The exhibition is part of the satellite program of the Triennale der Photographie in Hamburg / Photo Triennale Hamburg and supported by the City of Hamburg Board of Culture and Media, and Tom of Finland Foundation.
On view through 10th June with
closing Artist Talk at 4p
Shot During the Artist’s Residency at Tom of Finland Foundation
my starting point for this work was a quote
by tom of finland from his first fine art book in 1988:
At the time when I became aware of my sexual direction, before World War II, all Gay activity was forbidden by law in most countries. The Gay men that I met felt ashamed and guilty, like belonging to lower human category because they had no right to enjoy their different sexuality. In my opinion it was very unfair, but even though I had to hide my own desires – or maybe because of it – I started drawing fantasies of free and happy Gay men.
in 2018, when a majority of americans still say
they feel uncomfortable with LGBTQ people,
and the rate of hate crimes against the queer community
is increasing globally,
i felt the strong need to portray gay sexuality and life in
its diversity in the USA.
tom house in echo park, where i have been staying for
three months, is the perfect backdrop for it.
tom of finland (born tokou laaksonen) lived here during the
last decade of his life and established
tom of finland foundation with durk dehner in 1984.
over the years the house and the foundation have been
the home to numerous gay artists and the
playground, shelter and safe space for many queer people.
it functions as a home, a sanctuary and a museum at the
i had the privilege to live here from
1st december to 28th february 2018.
this work is a little hommage to the utopia
of sexual freedom that tom created for all gay men.
join me at 3p for a small presentation of the work i did during my artist residency.