Saturday, March 8, 2008

Friday, March 7, 2008

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Friday, February 29, 2008

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Circumstances Surrounding the Untimely Death of Herr L. O. The problem with memorials of any kind is the ease with which we can be manipulated by clich├ęd symbolism and overwrought expressionism. At best, the results compact traumatic events into cheap and easily digestible sentiment. This is nothing short of one-note propaganda. At worst, the designs compartmentalize history into a series of segregated events. The distancing of time and geography has made it easy to overlook current political discourse and to understand that it often echoes a chilling past. The Circumstances Surrounding the Untimely Death of Herr L. O. found its genesis in a paragraph in an old issue of the New York Review of Books. In concise language, it detailed the fearlessness of one man brave enough to confront a hateful bureaucratic machine. The text reads: “In October 1934, the Wurzburg wine merchant Leopold Obermeyer, a practicing Jew and Swiss citizen, complained to the police that his mail was being opened. He was taken into custody and, when it was discovered that he was a homosexual, subjected to an endless series of interrogations and beatings and incarcerations. Despite his courageous protests and petitions, the Swiss government found it inexpedient to intervene on his behalf. At his trial, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and was murdered at Mauthausen in 1943.” Evoking the clinical burearucratic capacity for governments to reduce human beings to catalogued statistics – whether they appear in a database or on the forearm – the letters of the transcribed text are gradually replaced wih numbers following a logical system (A=1, B=2, C=3, D=4, etc.). By the end all that appears are solid numbers. With effort the text is translatable, but perhaps the horror of the events is better evoked by the sheer incomprehensibility of the text. The unique challenge when confronting our collective gay history is the we are, somewhat uniquely, faceless individuals. It speaks volumes that the only known portrait of Leopold Obermeyer is his police mug shot. In this regard I owe Andreas Rosen my deepest gratitude both in providing me with a photo of Leopold and translating the text into German, and spearheading the campaign to memorialize the life of our ancestor. BRUCE EVES

Friday, February 15, 2008

NOONTIME FUN Comforting as it is to think of gay history as a series of ever expanding victories away from an unforgiving and intolerant past, we risk the danger of falling into the smug delusion that every advance is a permanent one. By confusing tolerance with equality, we forget that at other times and in other places our present relative security was often matched or bettered, only to be destroyed by circumstances beyond our control. NOONTIME FUN is located at this intersection of sex and violence. Its genesis began with the discovery of a text detailing the treatment of five men at the hands of a drunken mob as they were led to the pillory to begin their punishment for crimes against nature in London, 1810. Published in Paul Hallam’s Book of Sodom and weighing in at merely 1000 words, it is perhaps the most violently graphic piece of writing I’ve encountered in some time. What set this brief text apart from the usual mundane homophobic screed was that the viewpoint of the anonymous eyewitness was uncommonly ambiguous and exhibited a level of sympathy for the men being tortured and projected a grudging admiration for their courage. Authored during a reactionary lull in the generally progressive pre-Victorian period, could it be that this brief account is perhaps the first know gay liberation text? This work was created for the 1996 Pride-related “Unstoppable” exhibition. Addressing the theme of the exhibition through the layering of the historical text with a contemporary bareback butt-fuck, the work is both a study in shock and raises the disturbing and unanswerable question of just whom exactly is unstoppable, us or them? BRUCE EVES

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"Noontime Fun" 2006

NOONTIME FUN, THE COMPLETE TEXT: LONDON, 1810. The disgust felt by all ranks in Society at the detestable conduct of these wretches occasioned many thousands to become spectators of their punishment. At an early hour the Old Bailey was completely blockaded, and the increase of the mob about 12 o’clock, put a stop to the business of the Sessions. The shops from Ludgate-Hill to the Haymarket were shut, and the streets lined with people, waiting to see the offenders pass . . . Shortly after twelve, the ammunition wagons from the neighbouring markets appeared in motion. These consisted on a number of carts which were driven by butcher’s boys, who had previously taken care to fill them with offal, dung, etc. from various slaughterhouses. A number of hunksters were also involved, carrying on their heads baskets of apples, potatoes, turnips, cabbage stalks and other vegetables, together with the remains of diverse dogs and cats. The whole of these were sold to the populace at a high price, who spared no expense to provide themselves with the necessary articles of assault. A number of fishwomen attended with stinking flounders and the entrails of other fish that had been in preparation for several days. These articles, however, were not for sale, as their proprietors, hearty in their cause, declared they wanted them “for their own use.” About half-past 12 the Sheriffs and the City Marshals arrived with more than 100 Constables mounted and armed with pistols, as well as 100 on foot. This force was ordered to rendezvous in the Old Bailey Yard, where a caravan, used occasionally to conveying prisoners from the jails of London to the Hulks, waited to receive the culprits. The caravan was drawn by two shaft horses, led by two men armed with a brace of pistols. The gates of the Old Bailey Yard were shut, and all strangers turned out. The miscreants were then brought out, and all placed in the caravan. They all sat upright, apparently in a composed state, but having cast their eyes upwards, the sight of the spectators on the tops of the houses operated strongly on their fears, and they soon appeared to feel terror and dismay. At the instant the church clock struck half-past twelve, the gates were thrown open. The mob at the same time attempted to force their way in, but they were repulsed. A grant sortie of the police was then made. About 60 officers, armed and mounted as before described, went forward with the City Marshals. The caravan went next, followed by about 40 officers and the Sheriffs. The first salute received by the offenders was a volley of mud, and a serenade of hisses, hooting, and execration, which compelled them to fall flat on their faces in the caravan. The mob -- and particularly the women -- had piled up balls of mud to afford the objects of their indignation a warm reception. The depots in many places appeared like pyramids of shot in a gun wharf. These were soon exhausted, and when the caravan passed the old house which once belonged to the notorious Jonathan Wild, the prisoners resembled bears dipped in a stagnant pond. The shower of mud continued during their passage to the Haymarket. Before they reached half way to the scene of their exposure, they were not discernable as human beings. If they had had much further to go, the cart would have been absolutely filled over them. The one who sat rather aloof from the rest was the landlord of the house, a fellow of a stout bulky figure, who could not stow himself away as easily as the others, who were slighter; he was therefore, as well as being known, attacked with double fury. Dead cats and dogs, offal, potatoes, turnips etc. rebounded from him on every side; while his manly appearance drew down peculiar execrations on him, and nothing but the motion of the cart prevented him from being killed on the spot. At one o’clock four of them were exalted on a new pillory made purposely for their accomodation. The remaining two, Cook and Amos, were honoured by being allowed to enjoy a triumph in the pillory alone. They were accordingly taken back in the caravan to St. Martin’s watch house. Before any of them reached the place of punishment, their faces were completely disfigured by blows and mud; and before they mounted, their whole persons appeared one heap of filth. Upwards of 50 women were permitted to stand in the ring, who assailed them incessantly with mud, dead cats, rotten eggs, potatoes, and buckets filled with blood, offal, and dung, which were brought by a number of butcher’s men from St. James Market. These criminals were very roughly handled; but as there were four of them, they did not suffer so much as a lesser number might. When the hour was expired, they were again put in the cart and conveyed to Cold Bath Fields Prison, through St. Martin’s Lane, Compton Street, and Holborn, and in their journey received similar salutes to what they met in their way from Newgate. When they were taken from the stand, the butchers’ men and the women were plentifully regaled with gin and beer, procured from a subscription made upon the spot. In a few minutes, the remaining two, Cook, (who had been the landlord) and Amos, alias Fox, were de-sired to mount. Cook held his hand to his head, and complained of the blows he had already received; and Amos made the same complaint, and showed a large brick-bat which had struck him in the face. The Under Sheriff told them that the sentence must be executed, and they reluctantly mounted. Cook said nothing; but Amos seeing the preparations they were making, declared in the most solemn manner that he was innocent; but it was vociferated from all quarters that he had been convicted before, and in one minute they appeared a complete heap of mud, and their faces were much more battered than those of the former four. Cook received several hits in the face, and he had a lump upon his eyebrow as large as an egg. Amos’s two eyes were completely closed up; and when they were untied, Cook appeared almost insensible, and it was necessary to help them both down and into the cart. Cook continued to lie upon the seat in the cart, but Amos laid down among the filth, till their entrance into Newgate sheltered the wretches from the further indignation of the most enraged populace we had ever seen. It is impossible for language to convey an adequate idea of the universal expressions of execrations which accompanied these monsters on their journey; it was fortunate for them that the weather was dry, had it been otherwise they would have been smothered. They were chained and placed in such a manner that they could not lie down in the cart, and could only hide and shelter their heads from the storm by stooping. This, however, could afford but little protection. Some of them were cut in the head and bled profusely. The streets resounded with the universal shouts of the populace.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

"In Tents City" (Installation view on the grounds of the Queen Street Mental Health Centre) 2006

ARTe MEDIA: an Interview. What is your background? Performance art, publishing, gay activism. When do you create? I have a two-room studio in my home and I try to be fairly regimented about work – which usually involves puttering around every day. Probably like all artists, I’m a master procrastinator – and thinking about the work takes more time than actually making it. Who inspires your work? Not who as much as what. As a cultural voyeur, I can cherry-pick at will from mutually exclusive sources – the morning headlines, the official record of 20th century avant-garde art, the signs and signifiers of the gay male underground – affording me the chance to explore the spaces between these charged relationships. I’m constantly trying to get a handle on the zeitgeist, to understand my place in a world that is rapidly descending into madness. What is art? While it is virtually indefinable, this much I know for certain: art is not suitable for family viewing, nor should it be emotionally uplifting. Nothing should be considered untouchable. Art must refuse to kowtow to the limitless demands for the familiar and the safe and the conventional. Art has nothing to do with social work or political stability or with the ending of negative stereotypes: these are the jobs for propagandists. It’s a dangerous world out there and if art is expected to hold a mirror up to the society in which it was created, do we really need any more decorators? Much of my work at this point falls within the category of "new media" – a form which is only now beginning to be defined. "New Media", in my mind, is the logical extension of Marcel Duchamp’s innovative removal of physical labour from the art-making process. By using various communications tools – the internet, e-mail, photoshop, power-point -- this process has allowed artists to alter the means of production and distribution by displacing the notion of geographical boundaries and limitations, and calls into question the concept and value of unique, privately-owned "works of art". In many ways this electronic means of production was tumbled upon by accident, as it was the only (affordable) tool available to realize ideas that involved altered photographs and projects that were more and more "cinematic" in nature. Have you ever exposed in Italy? Many years ago I was involved with a series of collaborative site-specific performance art pieces that were created in Europe. In Italy, works were created at the Palazzo Diamante in Ferrara and at the Museo di Arte Moderna in Bologna (with Arturo Schwartz). Aside from that, I have not had gallery exposure (although it would be certainly welcome!) How do you image your work in a city-space? I see my work as an insinuation rather than as an intervention. Tell me more about your work. I’ve always been known for my cheekiness. Influenced by many of the theoretical issues raised by performance and conceptual art, I eagerly accept the role of cultural provocateur. Working against the backdrop of an increasingly Disneyfied monoculture dominated by trivia and gossip and a global visual art practice that is all too often a self-contained tautology, my body of work is often described (and sometimes dismissed) as merely "political". But it is not political in the traditional sense. From the earliest point in my career as an artist, I have delved into the question of the "gay sensibility". But rather than taking the standard trip down memory lane into the suck-and-fuck paradigm, I’ve positioning myself as an ironic spectator. As the chief curator throughout the 1980s with the International Gay History Archive – then the largest collection in private hands of archival materials and ephemera in North America -- I was impacted directly in my understanding of the broader context of our political, social, and cultural lives. This provided me with a wealth of raw information that fed directly into my art practice. This collection, with materials dating from the 1890s, is now in the Rare Books and Manuscripts collection of the New York Public Library. By adopting a post-gay stance – in which the homosexuality that once segregated us into the otherness of ghetto-life is now, not unlike blondness, infusing the culture to such a profound degree that it has become invisible. Herein lies the challenge. It goes without saying that, as a contested site, the male body continues to be a provocation. This is old news, yet ironically, a critique of manufactured masculinity has gone largely unexplored. The proposition explored in much of my work is that it is possible to be simultaneously hot and sweaty and critical and detached. It is desirable – even exhilarating – to question the givens of our cultural baggage while at the same time wallowing in them. If there is any theme that unites my body of work (regardless of the form it adopts), it is that it concentrates on the representative gestures of maleness, their signifiers, and their remains.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Friday, February 8, 2008

Thursday, February 7, 2008

FRANKENSTEIN: A SELF-PORTRAIT (PART TWO) WHILE all of my works contain a dash of autobiography (regardless of how subterranean it may appear) this piece is autobiography in it’s most raw and exposed form. When my partner of twenty-five years died after a brief battle with cancer in 2004, a decision had to be made whether to throw in the to-wel and follow him or prove to myself that I’m made of sterner stuff. Extracting telling quotes on loss and loneliness, desire and self-recrimination, and creativity and destruction from Mary Shelley’s little-read 1819 masterpiece, this work is one of a series of cathartic fragments from an ongoing rebuilding process which moved me away from the lure of death towards fashioning myself as a new creation. FRANKENSTEIN: A SELF-PORTRAIT (PART TWO) is located at the intersection of love and loss, and by adopting the strategy of layering a text from the dawn of the modern industrial age with an image from its dusk somehow captures the essence of romanticism. While the writing maybe completely over the top and the image/text juxtaposition may be obsessively mad, where is it mandated that eroticism must be fun? A year and a half ago I wanted to die, and now I do not. That is all that truly matters. BRUCE EVES

THE TEXT READS: “It is so long before the mind can persuade itself that [he] whom we saw every day and whose very existence appeared a part of our own can have departed forever – that the brightness of a beloved eye can have been extinguished and the sound of a voice so familiar and dear to the ear can be hushed, never more to be heard. These are the reflections of the first days; but when the lapse of proves the reality of the evil, then the actual bitterness of grief commences. Yet from whom has not that rude hand rent away some dear connection? And why should I describe a sorrow which all have felt, and must feel? The time at length arrives when grief is rather an indulgence than a necessity; and the smile that plays upon the lips, although it may be deemed a sacrilege, is not banished. My [lover] was dead, but we still have duties which we ought to perform; we must continue our course with the rest and learn to think ourselves fortunate whilst one remains whom the spoiler has not seized.”

Monday, February 4, 2008

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Saturday, February 2, 2008

BRUCE EVES Q & A WITH TODD BROOKS / Pendu Magazine & Gallery
Q: When did you first start making artwork? Is there a particular artist or group of artists that really sparked your interest in making art? A: When I was 18 I had to make a choice between art school and going to university to study archeology. I'm a little ashamed to say I took the easy route. Q: Did you go to art school? If so, what effect did art school have on your art? In what ways did they make you better? Do you feel you were taught things that you now have to “unlearn”? A: Unless there's a really solid foundation of art history the idea of art school is pretty pointless. I was luckier than most in that there was an educational upheaval going on when I was at school which stressed conceptual thinking over traditional skills. After all if you can't think clearly and you don't know your history, you know nothing. At the time the thought of talking about money was just too horrifying for words. Now they talk about nothing else – and it shows. Q: Do you feel you had to ''reinvent the wheel'' on your own to get where you are or are there certain people who have helped guide you along the way? A: Learning to connect the dots was the second most important thing I learned. The most important thing I've learned is to ignore the art magazines -- nothing they have to say is relevant to anything beyond the influence of advertising over editorial (which everyone denies). Q: What keeps you inspired to continue making new work? A: Getting pissed off is the best catalyst. Q: What themes do you find yourself most attracted to and returning to in your work? A: How best to put noses out of joint at any given moment. Q: How much of each piece of your artwork would you consider comes from an intuitive or spontaneous sense of creating and how much is analytical and planned out? A: Every idea begins as a spark and I flounder around and procrastinate and hate myself before sitting down and planning something out in detail. Then it all gets tossed out. Things get done and redone a half dozen times before I understand what I'm doing. The theory and analysis comes afterward. Q: How important is music to your art? Do you listen to certain music when working? Any particular musicians? A: I work in silence. Q: Do you have a favorite cultural critic, philosopher, or psychoanalyst that you enjoy reading/learning from? Has their work directly or indirectly influenced you and if so, in what ways? A: I read the way I work, floundering around and following the links. Lytton Strachey is far more interesting than Noam Chomsky, and the Marquis de Sade is far more entertaining than Maureen Dowd. And anyone who quotes the French deconstructionists deserves a bare-bottom spanking, because they don't understand what they've read. Q: Who is your favorite young author right now? A: Right now I'm reading the Grimm brothers and the political satirist Rick Mercer. Q: Is there a young visual artist right now whose work particularly has your attention? A: A young one that's still among the living? No. Q: Do you make a living as an artist? If not, and you don't mind sharing, what is your day/night job? A: It's hand to mouth but I get by. Q: What are your future plans? A: To reach pension age with a set of shoulders wider than my ass. Q: Any cryptic messages that you would like to send out to the readers? A: Aside from Hillary Clinton being a fraud? No. (2/28/08)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thursday, January 24, 2008