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

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