The first Queer themed art project in Latvia
TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Nordic God, 1969, Graphite on paper, 11.50” x 8.00”, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection, © 1969 Tom of Finland Foundation
Represented artists: Tom of Finland (1944-1990, FI/USA), Aleesa Cohena(Canada), Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst (USA), Lucas Foletto Celinski (BR/DE), Atis Jākobsons (LV), Matthew Lutz Kinoy (USA), Inga Meldere (LV/FI), Vladislavs Nastavševs (LV), Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay(Canada), Armīns Ozoliņš (LV), Edgars Ozoliņš (1930-1987, LV), Karol Radziszewski (PL), Wolfgang Tillmans (DE), Vilnis Vējš (LV).
Thinking about the problematic contrast of social acceptance and gay rights or their absence in the present Latvia, this project follows an idea about the universalising view on sexual identity and desire questioning previously dominant model of binary oppositions (male/female, homosexual/heterosexual) and the open-source mentality of the later concepts of queer sexuality, “third sex”, etc.
Avoiding any presumptions that certain individuals are truly born gay and only those born with the “deviant” traits share an interest in them, this project stresses that homosexuality is important to persons with a wide range of sexualities, as there is no such a thing as a stable erotic identity, and everyone is to some degree queer in their inherent qualities of mind and character, even if not in their physical behavior.
The iconic figure of Tom of Finland serves as a platform to question the stereotypes of sexuality, gender and idealized body. To name few other participants: exhibition would also include collaborative work of American artist couple Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst. Last summer (2014), they hit a high point in their careers by being included in the Whitney Biennial.
Exhibition will bring in a juxtaposition between Tom of Finland’s works and Latvian artist Edgars Ozoliņš, whose photorealistic and overtly sexualized illustrations of teen novels from the 1960s – 1980s encouraged the soviet-time public discourse on sexuality. By illustrating a scandalous (and exceedingly homophobic) book on sex and marriage, the artist succeeded to, for the first time in soviet history, create a set of drawings depicting a vast variety of sexual postures.
With various invited speakers (among them German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, Latvian and foreign poets, theoreticians, historians) the synchronous talks will question the concepts behind the exhibition ideas through talks, presentations, and more.
kim? together with Berlin based Latvian curator Kaspars Vanags (curator of the Latvia’s National pavilion at Venice Art Biennale 2015) and with support by Gary Everett (founder and current artistic director at Homotopia Liverpool and an official representative of Tom of Finland Foundation in Europe) is organizing the first art exhibition in Latvia dedicated to queer issues featuring new and recent art works from international and local contemporary artists as well as museum worthy display of Tom of Finland and Edgars Ozoliņš.
Exhibition shall open during EuroPride and run through 2nd August.
Latvia is the first country in the territory of former Soviet Union to host EuroPride. kim? Contemporary Art Centre’s mission is to support the development of emerging artists, theoreticians, curators, philosophers, translators and thinkers of other spheres aiming to provide a responsive context to their work and to make critical practices accessible to a wider audience.