Date(s) - 12th May 2023 - 4th Jun 2023
Opening Reception: Friday, 12th May, 6-10p
Gallery hours: Wednesday – Sunday, Noon-6p
SCREENING 31st May
ZINE LAUNCH and DISCUSSION 4th June
The Awakening is a project by Barcelona-based artist Antoni Hervás, curated by Clara López Menéndez. The exhibition will be accompanied by a three month-long residency at Tom of Finland Foundation (April-June).
The Awakening departs from Hervás’ initiative to come to Los Angeles in Spring 2022 to research the beginnings of what is called “leather culture.” Interested in the murky origins of these aesthetics and performative codes of Queer/Gay life, Hervás wanted to look into the origins of this community in Southern California. Especially how the drawings and life of Tom of Finland intersected in the dissemination of this aesthetic worldwide. Hervás looked into the places where Tom found his earliest inspiration and how, through Tom’s fantasy, this nowadays widely expanded gender identity and set of practices came to be. Hervás is particularly curious about how the specific forms of this subculture emerged, becoming recognizable codes for those who knew how to see them, while hiding in plain sight by taking from widely spread popular culture tropes––the cowboy, the motorcycle gang, the various men in uniform––and utilizing an exalted form of high masculinity as drag and cover.
In addition Hervás also dove into Los Angeles’s contemporary underground Queer culture, interested in putting together the less recorded inspirational wells of this history: the laidback working class clandestine Gay clubs were men of all social and racialized backgrounds meet to find each other on the dancefloor and forget the rigid social strictures that demand heteronormative performances of them––at their jobs, in the street, with their families. These spaces represent for Hervás the heterogenous fertile grounds that inspired artists like Tom of Finland, who then crystalized in their drawings a more whitewashed vision of these opaque origins. For Hervás, this whitewashing obscures how in the club lines get blurred and difference dances in joy instead of splitting apart.
The club is a fundamental space for Gay life and culture, one that is currently endangered by real estate speculation and the changes in habits catalyzed by the use of cruising apps. The show’s work is therefore partially a celebration of Gay clubs and bars as a needed refuge and crucial space for Queer becoming’s.
Curator Clara López Menéndez has selected the 1972 film Bijou
to screen inside Antoni Hervás’ immersive installation.
Hervás will release a new gay science fiction comic book, adapted from research material
found in the Tom of Finland Foundation Archives. Stop by on Sunday the 4th to pick up a copy.
The Awakening is curated by Clara López Menéndez
and is accompanied by Hervás’ three month-long residency at TOM House.
The show has been realized with the inestimable help and advice of Valeria Tizol Vivas.
Published: 12th May 2023
Categorised in: Exhibitions - Other Artists