So, here it finally is. Crisco Queen’s reminiscence tour of Berlin is up on the wall and installed. My first exhibtion in Berlin, as part of a group show
‘<!–Zeit–>’ 16.-23.2.2013 at Bethanien, Berlin
For me, it has been a great experience. Until everything was installed, I was doubtful whether it would work how I had imagined it. Apart from the technical challenges–neatly arranging 25 images on a grid, painting the background in exactly the right colour, finding just the right handbag fit for a Queen etc.–questions about whether it would all come together, whether anyone would be able or willing to engage with it all played in my head. But by the time of the opening my doubts were pretty much dispelled. Apart from some positive feedback from a few people whose opinions I greatly value, other people reacted to the piece. Some quickly walked away, shaking their heads, a few women complained of “too many” cocks, while others stayed and looked, walking back and forth between the groups of pictures, some playing with the memory card game on the table, some returning with partners and friends.
there are the sort of pictures that are readily identifiable as pretty… or poetic.. or representative of something. I felt that this was somewhat else, to varying degrees. The pictures of the Crisco queen were slapdash and a bit funny with a slight 70s discoloured look… holiday snaps of what is basically a sex tourist. But is this what art can look like? To some, me included, it obviously can, to others, judging by their expressions, rather not. The second group of pictures were more or less of sexually loaded scenes or actual sex scenes, but many with technical “flaws”–not very sharp, dark, grainy, our of focus or blurred, and a mood that does not exactly shout “orgy”. Leaving the “pretty” ground meant that the idea behind this had to carry it. My idea had mostly been in my head, until the whole lot was in the gallery. And seeing that it worked, and that the group of pictures with the ‘caput mortum’ background still carried with it a certain beauty was the most rewarding part of doing this. The memory game of “what’s in the bag”–all the fetish currency to bargain with, the travel essentials for a Folsom weekend–was the bonus and the really fun bit. Remarkably complex to photograph and edit so that it all cohered, it looks real fun in the flesh, err…, cardboard. Some people seemed to have a great time playing with poppers, cocks, gas masks and boots, as one does; that was the idea. And I was lucky to find the perfect handbag on the day of the opening, even luckier as I am not a very seasoned shopper for handbags.
The experience of doing the whole project as part of a group, receiving feedback along the way, having very lively discussions, with many members of the group seeing themselves confronted with aspects of gay sexual experience that they had never dreamed, but somehow engaging with it in a constructive and helpful way… all of that was fantastic. Many thanks, as well, to the man who guided us through it all with great interest and patience, Thomas Michalak.