The Bay Area Body

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com June 06 2014 4:33 AM ET

The San Francisco Bay Area is known for it's strident activism, it's cultural riches, and a certain offbeat personal and visual sensibility. And lots and lots of LGBT people.

This history of civic engagement has nurtured visual art that pays special attention to the politics of the body as well as the body politic. For those who are denied access to traditional political means, or for those who voluntarily reject this, artists have used their own bodies as sites of political transformation or contestation.

The exhibit, "Body, Body, Bodies..."  presents 27 cutting edge artists who take on the body for your pleasure and edification.

It is part of this year’s festival, and the theme is “Body Politic/s.” This exhibition is produced by the Queer Cultural Center as a visual arts centerpiece of the National Queer Arts Festival 2014.

"Body, Body, Bodies…" is presented at SOMArts through participation in the Affordable Space Program, which provides below-market rental space, production and publicity assistance to nonprofit organizations.

Queer Cultural Center
Exhibition June 7–28, 2014.
Opening event Saturday, June 7, 2–5pm.
Gallery hours: Tues–Fri, 12-7pm and Sat, 12–5pm.
934 Brannan St. (between 8th & 9th)


Alvarado
wet front 29, 2013
gum Arabic painting on paper
44″ X 60″

Artist statement: Some of these images are from a project I am working on, dealing with Immigration Reform; the project is called “50-60 Wet Backs” in response to congressman Don Young’s insensitive comment about the 50-60 wetbacks last year.

 

Carlos Brache
Dispenser

The artist uses a dispenser until its contents are exhausted.

 

Briccetti
Work Shoes, 2008
Oil on canvas
22″x28″

Artist statement: My work looks at the worker, mainly the female worker, and her alienation from her work. Self-portraits by-proxy, these images show working women trapped by their physical bodies in places and jobs that seem empty and route. Some of the work shows these women soldiering on through their daily grind despite madness erupting around them, others simply pushing onward through the drudgery. Using the female body, and in particular a retro 50s-70s female body, as a trope for wanting to break free from society’s imposed rules, further elucidates the sense of disaffection felt by the subjects in this work.

Carley
Eli (MTF), 2012
Oil on canvas
40” x 30”

Artist statement: Much of my work utilizes paint to examine concepts pertaining to identity and how particular elements manifest visually. I have been exploring how through studying groups of people I might be able to create a visual representation of an idea or word within the study of identity. Using subject material of the figure, I explore on how intentionally selecting and combining imagery creates a sociological landscape that is built from particular aspects of a group or individual identity.

My interest in gender identity began through feminist studies and theories from such great minds as bell hooks and Simone de Beauvoir with increased appreciation of the body from Maurice Merleau‐Ponty. I developed great interest in self-identification, social group construction, and the theory of “the other”. Within the feminist dialogue of gender roles and gender construction I began reading about the contemporary idea of the gender spectrum.

Subsequently, I completed a series that aimed to capture the shift between genders as the central slice of this fluid spectrum: using an advertisement on Craigslist, I began painting individuals who identify as transgender. This work is important to me as I have people in my life who fall at different points of the gender spectrum and I intend for this work to broaden the viewer’s perspective on the fluidity of gender.

The last two paintings submitted consider gesture in the history of portraiture utilizing closed eyes.  The work highlights the voyeuristic nature of painting and the subject/object relationship of the people in paintings and images.

 

Gerardo Castro
St. Sebastian’s Sacred Heart, 2013
diptych, oil on linen, mixed media, beads, paper
38” x 44”

Artist statement: My approach to the studio and painting comes from an intuitive relationship I develop with the people that surround me, along with my Spiritual beliefs, environment, and memories from the perspective of a Latino gay man.  My art encompass oil paintings and mixed media works inspired by supernatural forces influenced by Afro-Cuban religions and spirituality, more specifically the Santeria religion, as well as culturally dominant fantasies about masculinity and sexuality. Santeria or Orishá worship…teaches gay people how to recognize the divine within himself or herself, which is an important building block to achieving self-esteem. In Latin religious practices, Santeria is one of the few avenues available to gay men, women, and heterosexual women, in which they could achieve a measure of real power and meaningful roles.

In my work, the juxtaposition of the painted male figure to the dark Shadow plays a major factor not only in the composition and structure of the painting but also symbolically; there exists an interaction of the sacred and the secular, gender ambiguity and gender manipulation.  In the Shadow, I use ideograms found in indigenous religions as an inspiration for personal and spiritual transformation. The painted male figures are at times androgynous: the masculine and feminine are sometimes reflected so completely in the body of the figures, it’s as if they have two Spirits.

 

Susana Cortez
Dirting Indianapolis, 2012
Still from social action
Indianapolis, IN

Artist statement: This was a social action in Indianapolis, IN. I covered myself with dirt and walked throughout downtown Indianapolis, Indiana for about an hour. This was the first piece where I use dirt as my medium. By covering myself with dirt, I became visible to every person who came across my path, at the same time dirt erased all the stereotypes and labels that are often attached to me. It erased my gender and my ethnicity. I became just a human, or maybe even an object allowing people to relate to me.

Performance: “I am just a piece of brown shit in this capitalist society”, (Social action or video). This is my newest piece. It was a social action in the mission district in San Francisco, CA. I covered myself with dirt on Mission and 16th St. I laid on the floor covered on dirt. People surrounded me, talk about me, or just observed me. Then, I proceeded to walk around the mission area for about one hour. I would like to do this same action in a gallery setting, “Body Politic/s” will be perfect for this particular piece since I am addressing multiple issues of the body and power dynamics.

De Joe Hoyos

A Father's Son, 1995
collage (cut paper on Bristol Board)
9 1/2″ x 12″ (unframed)

A Mother's Secrets, 1995
collage (cut paper on Bristol Board)
9 1/2″ x 12″ (unframed)

Artist statement: These works are about sexuality, addiction, secrets, and loss (health, love, life), and how fragmented the lives of my parents were and are; my mother is still alive.

Laurie Edison
Nude portrait of the late lesbian erotic photographer Tee Corinne
archival digital print
6" × 7.5" (unframed)

Artist statement: I grew up in New York City, and have lived in San Francisco for half of my life.  I became a photographer 25 years ago at the age of 47.  Until recently, my work has focused on the beauty and complexity of real bodies.

My suites of black and white darkroom portraits include Women of Japan (clothed portraits of women from many cultures and backgrounds) done in collaboration with Japanese feminists, and my books Women En Large: Images of Fat Nudes (1994) and Familiar Men: A Book of Nudes (2004).  My work in progress is “Memory Landscapes: A Visual Memoir,” a color digital exploration of my life in time.  I’m an activist focusing on body image (broadly interpreted) and related issues.  I blog with my editor and writing partner, Debbie Notkin, at Body Impolitic.

My work has been exhibited internationally over the last 25 years.  The most recent exhibitions were a group of photographs in The Allure of the Collection, the 35th Anniversary Exhibition at the National Museum of Art, Osaka, and international feminist exhibitions including “Woman + Body,” in Seoul and Gwangju, South Korea, and “Half the Sky” in Shenyang, China.

My photos in “Body, Bodies, Bodies...” are nude portraits of Tee Corinne and Samuel R. Delany.

The portrait of my friend Tee Corinne was taken shortly before her death in 2006. Tee was a groundbreaking Lesbian erotic artist whose works included the Cunt Coloring Book, solarized erotic photographs of lesbians, and her remarkable final project “Scars, Stoma, Ostomy Bag, Portacath: Picturing Cancer In Our Lives.”

The portrait of Samuel R. Delany is from Familiar Men. He is a poet, literary critic, and has just been named a grandmaster of science fiction by the Science Fiction Writers of America. From his earliest books as a science fiction writer, his work has included issues of sexuality, ethnicity, race and gender, including polyamorous love. He brought queerness into the future.

My website is Laurie Toby Edison: Photographer (laurietobyedison.com).

 

Preston Gannaway
Selfies

Teddy and his best friend Jamesie Johnson take self-portraits for Facebook in Jamesie’s bathroom.

Artist statement: "Out in the Hood" is a project documenting the life of a young gay black man living in public housing. In this predominantly conservative area of Virginia, Tavaris “Teddy Ebony” Edwards is part of a vibrant gay community that is largely invisible.

I was initially drawn to Teddy by his openness and also his physicality: he’s still built like the football player his family thought he’d be. His sexuality is not immediately apparent; he looks like any other young black man you’d see around the Tidewater area.

It might be surprising to some that Teddy’s immediate community is accepting of his sexuality. Unfortunately much of his larger community is not. Like many parts of the South, southeastern Virginia is predominantly conservative; it is also home base for the Christian Broadcasting Network televangelist Pat Robertson who for years has led a charge against gay people.

Preston Gannaway (b. 1977) is an independent documentary photographer known for her intimate stories about families and subcultures. Her story on the St. Pierre family, Remember Me, was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography. Her work has been honored in numerous other national and international competitions including Pictures of the Year International, NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism, Critical Mass, American Photography and Communication Arts. Preston’s photographs have been exhibited both in the United States and abroad. She is a regular lecturer and has served as guest faculty in a variety of educational workshops. A native of North Carolina, she is currently based in Oakland, California, accepting editorial and commercial work while pursuing long-term projects.

Arturo Herrera
Dairy Queen on set 136-D#2, 2013
photographic print
20 x 16″

Artist statement: As an artist I explore the subjects of: sexuality, food, politics, power, and identity. In my most recent body of work Dairy Queen, I examine how we visually experience the desirability of the body through a series of oversized phallic food sculptures and performance photography. With this work, I am interested in focusing on speaking to the taboo of male gender self sexualization through appropriation of absurd alternative sensual signals such as public flaunting of an ice cream cone.

 

John Howard
Portrait of Jheri, Rankin County, Mississippi, June 2013.

Artist statement: Must queer imagery depict queer bodies? Is queer photographic representation limited to LGBTQI portraiture? Do the political stakes of visibility require a documentary emphasis on community leaders and direct action? Must photographed trans bodies be further subjected to an intrusive gendering gaze in search of telltale signs?

Not necessarily. The Joneses suggest otherwise.

How can we imagine queer landscapes and homelands outside cities? How do differently housed and dressed queer bodies disrupt artists’ generic conventions? How does dis/ability register in a more knowing visual field, where cameras can hardly capture essences but rather record mere moments? Why does this particular family, as they choose to call themselves, warrant attention?

The Joneses are courageous. With quiet determination, they’ve created a queer home in a conservative place: a trailer park in Mississippi. Seventy-three years old mother Jheri was her sons’ biological father, before transitioning. Bradley, developmentally disabled, and brother Trevor both recently came out as gay.

A family friend for three decades, I’ve attempted to highlight Jheri, Brad, and Trevor’s distinctive household in my writing, through documentary film (with director Moby Longinotto) and photography. I believe that to look and listen with respect is to lay bare the unique challenges posed by trans ageing and gay belonging in rural working-class environments with a tenuous relationship to the body politic.

 

Lee, Kang Seung
Untitled (Boadwee), 2013
Needlepoint on cotton
8 x 8 inches (framed)

Artist statement: This on-going project is to bring one of the most domestic, underrated, under-appreciated and feminine media (needlepoint) to document Queer Art History as well as Homo Erotic Art including gay porn industry.

Starting from early 2013, I have been doing needlepoint works of homoerotic images. These works are mostly small sized from 2 x 3 inches to 4 x 5 inches making a connection with how we look at art images through electronic screens that are often cropped, stored and reused.

Significant queer art images made from late 19 century to late 20 century, from Thomas Eakins to General Idea to Leigh Bowery were chosen.

Part of the project is in collaboration with Conner Habib (writer and gay porn star) – Conner is in the process of selecting the most important gay porn stars in 20th Century gay porn industry and their iconic scenes and poses. He is also writing essays on the images.

Most colors of the threads were chosen from Andy Warhol’s Iconic Electric Chair print series.

I believe the project works not only as a historical survey of 20th Century Queer (especially gay male) history but also questions the difference between art images and porn images.

 

Nguyen, Hoang Tan
look_im_azn
Nguyen Tan Hoang, 5 min. 35 sec., 2011, USA, Color & B/W, Silent

Artist statement: The video explores gay Asian men’s (GAMs) cruising strategies on American gay sex hookup websites. In environments deemed open and accessible, affording new sexual freedoms, GAMs often encounter such pronouncements as “No fats, no femmes, no Asians,” that is, caveats that severely constrain their cyber-cruising opportunities. I draw on two sets of GAMs’ cruising strategies in the face of such rejection: the headless torso pics as a way of “tactical masking” their GAM-ness and the use of screen names that proudly assert their Asianness (“GAM” and “AZN”) and those that exploit shameful racial slurs (“chink” and “gook”). The video combs online sex cruising grounds for articulations of gay Asian men’s desires and demands.