“Abandon the Parents” | 23rd May | Copenhagen

 

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An abundance of paintings, drawings, photographs, videos, books, words, and sounds fill the x-rummet venue, establishing surprising connections and creating new narratives. The rich and complex accumulation of objects explores and interprets the process of emancipation and independence that may – or may not – happen in the life of an andolescent leaving his or her parents to seek out new values.

The Danish artist Henrik Olesen has invited two long-term collaborators, friends, and gallerists – Daniel Buchholz and Christopher Müller – to join him in curating the exhibition Abandon the Parents in x-rummet. Here, they present an overwhelming collection of paintings, books, photographs, videos, sounds, and drawings created by Ariane Müller, Judith Scott, Lutz Bacher, Jean Genet, Richard Hawkins, Dieter Roth, Zoe Leonard, Lili Elbe, Arthur Köpcke, Kristian Zarthman, Wolfgang Tillmans, Hannah Hoech, Henriette Heise, Gerry Bibby, Albert Mertz and Galerie Krise from Berlin.

The combination of works presented here springs from the three curators’ personal process of exploration – they have selected works, stories, and artists in which they frame a space that contextualizes artistic production and self-organization. Adressing the decisive moments in the construction of an identity. The exhibition presents three interwoven homosexual autobiographies, but it also points to the mechanisms, desires, and intuitions that serve as the building blocks for our identities as human beings.

Many of the artists featured in the exhibition have served as important guiding lights for Olesen’s own artistic endeavours. They are role models and sources of inspiration that have shaped his artistic work and his search for his own identity.

Henrik Olesen Abandon the Parents | x-rummet
Through 28th September 2014

 

Paper Tricks: Richard Hawkins on Bob Mizer & Tom of Finland

As an artist who has spent a lot of time looking at, thinking about, and making my own collages, I have taken the opportunity as guest co-curator of Bob Mizer & Tom of Finland to introduce a wider and more generous selection of collages by the artists than previously has been exhibited. Some might consider these works to be minor aspects of the artists’ practices. Tom of Finland’s collages were created to be used as image banks and photographic references for his drawings; they were resources from which he may have found inspiration for rendering a handsome face or gathered the details necessary to get the stretch of leather across a thigh just right. Similarly, for Mizer, the photo-collaged catalogue boards were midway points between the production and distribution of his films and photographs. These artifacts were intended to be photographed, printed out, and disseminated as 4x5s. Neither artist, apparently, considered their collages the “real work.”

Tom of Finland’s tactics toward collage have an archaeological or mineralogical aspect. In order to produce these reference pages, the artist must have done a lot of deep digging through magazines, extracting the best and most exemplary chunks of raw beauty from their cultural sod, which were then hewn and polished into the artist’s own kind of multifaceted brilliance. Though Tom of Finland is historicized as someone devoutly subcultural, through his collaged scrapbooks and reference files we see an artist who is still very much a part of the world he had to live in. Rather than engage in the myths and fictions of that world however, he reordered and redirected much of dominant culture’s priorities by reappropriating its images—seeming to cast his own papery movies out of the glut of broadcasts and publications streaming past him.

TOM OF FINLAND, Untitled, c. 1973, Mixed media on paper, 11 x 8 inches, © Tom of Finland Foundation

TOM OF FINLAND, Untitled, c. 1973, Mixed media on paper, 11 x 8 inches, © Tom of Finland Foundation

In one of the collages from his “Faces” reference binder, for example, Tom of Finland included models and other pop-culture icons. Tom of Finland did not feature Che because of his notoriety as the Argentinian rebel, however; the artist included the image because it depicts a strong characteristic face with amazing lips and chin tilted up in such a way that could easily be incorporated into one of the artist’s many cock-worship drawings. Elvis Presley is there, his handsomeness contorted into what looks like torment and/or ecstasy. Muhammad Ali is there, caught grinning as he cruises by. A young and timorous-looking Terence Stamp is (I’m quite sure) giddily thrilled to be there. Marlon Brando, looking distinguished and stately in his Nazi uniform from the film The Young Lions (1958), is featured too.

But Brando is not there to represent a fantasized fetish for cruelty and domination—although, maybe that is one patent aspect—he, Che, and all the other movie-star idols have been kidnapped from the overriding master narratives of mass culture, decontextualized, and forced to make pals out of their porno-mag peers. Each face was included with the sole objective to monopolize on its astounding good looks. It’s a frame of mind that prioritizes desire over anything else and gives great insight into Tom of Finland’s revolutionary perspective of privileging hotness over the demands, mandates, and prescriptions of a culture that considered his desires unthinkable—if not also criminal.

Nonetheless, I have a dilemma. I could spend all day making arguments for how Mizer and Tom of Finland were ahead of their time, valorize them for trudging forth despite innumerable odds, and weave them into a politic of cultural critique and a progressive ushering-in of the many rights and privileges that we seem to be enjoying today, etcetera. But, I am still faced with the fact that Mizer’s mesmerizing photographs of Jim Horn and Dennis Lavia and Johnny Stumps, and Tom of Finland’s sweat-drenched renderings of Kake and Jack, along with his myriad cast of other horny, humpy, leathersex studs, leap forward through time and into the present day, burrow through a miasma of legitimizing discourse, and hit me right where it counts—my crotch. In the end, the work was intended to be blisteringly hot, perhaps with little regard for cultural innovation or transcendence. If this exhibition of the work of these two remarkable artists doesn’t send you right out to find a man—OR 3!—of your own to fool around with, then Bennett and I might have radically missed the mark.

READ THE COMPLETE ESSAY BY ARTIST AND EXHIBITION CO-CURATOR

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IN CONVERSATION WITH RICHARD HAWKINS

Artist and hot curator discusses his latest endeavors

Bud Cockerham, Richard Hawkins, Daniel Babcock, Durk Dehner & Bud Thomas at the Tom of Finland Company - Courtesy of Tom of Finland Foundation

Bud Cockerham, Richard Hawkins, Daniel Babcock, Durk Dehner & Bud Thomas at the Tom of Finland Company – Courtesy of Tom of Finland Foundation

If you’ve never heard of Richard Hawkins before, now is the time to start Googling his name. Since the early 1990s, Hawkins has been producing some of the most evocative, incomparable artwork we’ve ever seen, all teeming with an undercurrent of homoerotic appreciation and longing. Using collage and sculpture as his primary medium (although branching out into just about everything else as well), Hawkins’ work has been featured in galleries across the world, and for good reason: with pieces that are as elaborate and carefully designed as they are rife with gay imagery and subtext, Hawkins’ work speaks to people all across the Kinsey scale, transcending what often ends up being a niche audience.

Most recently, the artist Hawkins co-curated Tom of Finland & Bob Mizer, a retrospective on the two iconic gay artists now on view at MOCA in Los Angeles until January 26th. Also, currently on view until January 26th, 2014 at Le ConsortiumDijon is the his latest exhibition Glimmer. We got to interview the LA-based artist on what his curation means to him, what his process is like, and why he’s newly infatuated withAlejandro Jodorowsky’s “Holy Mountain.” Hint: it has a little something to do with naked bearded hippie boys…

You recently co-curated an exhibition on Tom of Finland and Bob Mizer. What about these two artists has impacted you the most? Has their art influenced your own work? I of course once worked for several years as Office Manager of the Tom of Finland Company and have been collecting Bob Mizer material for years so I’ve known and loved both artists works for at least a couple of decades. But the inspiration is less aesthetic and more one of position and practice. Both Bob and Tom were able to live in a world in which their desires were far from accepted but their solution was always to return to the studio and kind of passionately imagine new worlds into existence. There’s great inspiration for artists there: just follow your heart or your hard-on.

Do you find the art world to be more supportive of queer artists now than it has been in the past? I started showing at the height of AIDS activism and the beginnings of groups like Queer Nation so, for me at least, I’ve only seen a great acceptance and even an open invitation to be as gay as you want in the artworld. It is heartening though to see such a grand array of queers showing in the 2014 Whitney Biennial: Elijah, as mentioned above, but also Tony GreeneCatherine OpieTravis JeppesonBjarne MelgaardEi ArakawaKen OkiishiGary Indiana and several others.

Who are your role models? It took a long time to realize that I had intuitively built around myself not just a network but a whole family of gay uncles and brothers that I always turned to for guidance, support and advice. Many of the names you wouldn’t know. But being friends with the film historian Donald Richie in Tokyo was probably my greatest influence. While not a studio artist like Mizer and Tom of Finland, Richie spent a lifetime researching, writing about and promoting Japanese film but always found the time and patience to address any idiotic questions I might have had. I’m always hoping I have that same passion — but also, when I’m that age (Donald was 80 when he died early this year) the same tolerance.

RICHARD HAWKINS, Rainbow Room: sleeveless, Oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches. Courtesy: Richard Telles Fine Art, Los Angeles.

RICHARD HAWKINS, Rainbow Room: sleeveless, Oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches. Courtesy: Richard Telles Fine Art, Los Angeles.

What are you working on right now? I may be finally coming to the end of the work I started two years ago on Tatsumi Hijikata. I havent done a final count but it seems like around 150 collages and books came out of the project. Many of which will be shown at Tate Liverpool in February. Otherwise I intentionally took time off from showing and spent a lot less time in the studio this past year to reacquaint myself with who I was in the early 90s. I’d seemed to have lost touch with the fact that I was a fiction writer and had the painter Tony Greene as my best friend. Tony died of AIDS in 1990 but I think I’ve completed archiving his estate and now, as I said above, he’s in the Whitney Biennial. The first book of short stories was published 2 months ago.

READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE BY GAYLETTER

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