Date(s) - 5th Aug 2020 - 26th Aug 2020
Over the course of 30 years, William E. Jones has produced a genre-defying body of work that includes films, videos, photographs, and texts. He alternately employs research, critique, autobiography, fiction, and appropriation to offer bracing – and often controversial – reassessments of the historical record. The Fall of Communism as Seen in Gay Pornography (1998) is an important video from a moment in Jones’s career when he was beginning to leave behind the world of independent documentary cinema for a more free-wheeling practice that existed – and continues to exist – at the margins between several disciplines. It is comprised entirely of footage from gay adult videos made in Eastern Europe in the first years after the arrival of capitalism.
The motivations of the boys who appear in The Fall of Communism… are at once simpler and more complex than those of the swells who appear in Warhol’s Screen Tests. Of course, as one hapless subject says in my video, it’s all done “for the money.” But among male prostitutes, that’s the oldest line in the book. At least some of the boys were looking for a good time. Others thought they might satisfy their curiosity about Western capitalist perverts, ideally finding a sugar daddy one day, and in doing so, they would escape their dreary surroundings.
Perhaps a few of these kids had no idea whatsoever about what they were getting themselves into. Searching for clues in the looks on their faces is a pointless task. They are quite opaque, and that mystery, for me, is one of the best parts of the material. We’ll never know what these boys were thinking. Perhaps the middle-aged men they’ve become no longer even remember.
Published: 5th August 2020