Drawing In A Straight Line: Nayland Blake, Carlos Motta, Collier Schorr, Bob Nickas

Thursday 16 July, 2015
7pm, $5

Artists Space, Books and Talks
55 Walker Street

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This discussion considers Tom of Finland’s influence upon and reception by artists, as preeminent post-War gay icon. Moderator Bob Nickas will be joined by New York artists Collier Schorr, Nayland Blake and Carlos Motta.

With the rise of queer theory since Tom of Finland distributed his first drawings in the early 1940s, its assimilation into the art world and the academy, and a growing, though necessarily incomplete, queer awareness within mainstream culture, both queer subject matter and its representation and contestation by artists have shifted radically.

Tom of Finland’s drawings established an iconic, deviant masculinity, fundamentally playful and proud. They are formative to many artists’ understanding of the possibilities of representing a body. Yet their joyful projection of, and play upon, identity overlays an instinctive complexity: some of the drawings handle deep-seated taboos, including Nazi iconography unhinged as fetish symbols, whilst cops are guys to fuck and be fucked by, whether through prison bars or in public. The work is washed with a power play imbued within the process of representation itself. As queer art practice has been deconstructed through lines of multiplicity and intersectionality, so have historical understandings of power, and deviation from dominant power, been complexified. For this reason the relationship between Tom of Finland’s work and contemporary artists’ practice remains important.

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