TOUGHER THAN LEATHER: THE TOM OF FINLAND FOUNDATION’S FIGHT AGAINST CENSORSHIP CONTINUES INTO THE SOCIAL MEDIA AGE

Cover story in this week’s print edition. TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Portrait of Durk, 1980, Graphite on paper
© 1980-2019 Tom of Finland Foundation

Tom of Finland Foundation presented a panel in October at their Art Festival, “How Do We Communicate On/With Social Media.” They invited reps from Facebook and Instagram to join the artists, activists, educators and lawyers on the panel.

In April of this year, Rick Castro had one of his first solo shows at TOM House, a retrospective called Fetish King: Seminal Photographs 1986 – 2019. LGBTQ outlet The Advocate advanced the exhibit and posted the article with several images from the show. The more risqué photos required users to press a button confirming they were old enough to view the content; however, when The Advocate posted the story on Castro’s Facebook page, they suspended his account for 30 days. The image Facebook objected to featured two lucha libre wrestlers on top of each other, fully clothed.

“To censor is to kill off the voice of a person,” echoes Danny Fuentes, who co-presents an art show with ToFF from trans icon Genesis P-Orridge. “Art as a whole should never be censored, I still think art is our society’s last sacred thing and I stand with Tom of Finland Foundation in trying to keep art dangerous, provocative and even disturbing, but above all keep the conversation open and ongoing.”

As for the Foundation’s banishment from Instagram, the image that was apparently the final straw was from an art catalogue for a Denmark art show Tom was included in — one celebrating the end of a ban on visual pornography in that country. Yes, it’s ironic.

“An unwritten mission of ours is to make art and beauty a part of your life,” says S. R. Sharp, ToFF V.P. Despite its recent struggles, the group has continued to do just that. Though the internet didn’t exist when Tom of Finland created his original images, the fight for them to be seen then versus now isn’t that different.

And as long as the Foundation continues to fulfill its official mission statement, freedom wins. It reads, “Tom of Finland Foundation shall continue to encourage the work of erotic visual artists regardless of race, creed, religion, gender, sexual identity, medium of expression or any other censoring criteria.”

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled, 1980, Pencil on paper
© 1980-2019 Tom of Finland Foundation

Tom of Finland and Lethal Amounts present Sex Cells X Daddywood fundraiser at Precinct DTLA, Fri., Nov. 17, 9 p.m. (A portion of the proceeds will go to the Tom of Finland Foundation for the preservation of erotic art).

Opening reception for Bas Koster, the Foundation’s artist-in-residence, takes place Sun., Nov. 24. 

READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE IN L.A. WEEKLY BY MICHAEL COOPER

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“Such Delicate Tenderness” | 24th November | TOM House

LOCATION

Pink Boys 37, 2019, Watercolor and fountain pen on paper,  12″ x 7.5″

“I want to create drawings and tapestries with the male nude, to strengthen and deepen my vision within my erotic art, inspired by being in a new surrounding.”

 

MORE ABOUT THE ARTIST

Bas Kosters

Wholesome Penis, 2019, Watercolor, gouache and fountain pen on cardboard, 9″ x 10.5″

LIST OF WORKS FOR SALE

On view by appointment through 22nd December
+1 213 250 1685

Installation by Alyssa Martin


Opening Reception 2-6p


-Live Performance by Sob Sister
-DJ set by Marilyn

FACEBOOK EVENT

SEE PIX FROM RECEPTION

 

“I created a series of drawings and tapestries, to strengthen and deepen my vision within my erotic art, fed by my personal experiences in Los Angeles,” Kosters says. “If with this, I can contribute to people developing personally and sexually, that would be a great outcome.”

All of Kosters’ work brings out optimistic and childlike themes meshed with arousal and devotion. Kosters exclaims his own work to be “outspoken” and “erotic.” Kosters’ visit at the TOM House has really been an extraordinary experience, as he appreciates the rich history of the foundation along with its art-stimulating energy.

“The title reflects on the stigma that sexuality has in our western world, which seems to become more prudish every day. Sexuality can be emotional, spiritual and transcendental, not just dirty, offensive or naughty.”

“I tried to touch all the things in my erotic universe that please, inspire, alarm or excite me. I also tried to answer the question where my interest in the erotic art comes from; I realized it is a deeply rooted fascination; that is simply part of my whole emotional, personal and professional being.”

“In past times Homosexuals had various very soft nicknames marking them as feminine, while Gays nowadays might focus a lot on masculinity themselves. With my projects I strive to embody fluidity, softness and playfulness, instead of thinking too much in stereotypes. Let’s get tender!”

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