Lyle Ashton Harris and Paul Mpagi Sepuya will talk about their practice and participation in IMPLICIT TENSIONS—MAPPLETHORPE NOW, part two of the Guggenheim’s exhibition of the late photographer’s work.
The conversation will be moderated by Robert Reid-Pharr, a scholar in the field of race and sexuality studies and Professor of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at HarvardUniversity.
“Virginia Woolf wrote Orlandoin an attitude of celebration of the oscillating nature of existence. She believed the creative mind to be androgynous. I have come to see Orlandofar less as being about gender than about the flexibility of the fully awake and sensate spirit…
“Where I once assumed it was a book about eternal youth, I now see it as a book about growing up, about learning to live.” — Tilda Swinton*
ORLANDO—the Aperture exhibition inspired by Woolf and curated by Swinton—features the work of Zackary Drucker, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, JamalNxedlana, EllePérez, Walter Pfeiffer, Sally Potter, Viviane Sassen, Collier Schorr, Mickalene Thomas, and Carmen Winant.
“Growing up, I always assumed every store had an over-18 section. It was only when I got older that I realized my parents were in the business of hardcore gay porn. This was a completely strange thing for me, because this was not the world I knew to be of my parents: straight-laced, boring, and in my mom’s case, religious. The world of sexual deviants, gender nonconforming transgressives and weirdos, that was my world, not theirs…
“And yet, it took me leaving Los Angeles for over a decade to fully comprehend what a massive role their two Circus of Books stores served for the community. It took making a documentary film to realize that they had nurtured a second family to the family they had at home. They had carved out their own special place as trusted shop owners who never judged anyone who showed up in their surreptitious aisles, even as the rest of the world cast down condemnation, to say nothing of other parents at our school. As the store was closing last week, a Vietnam veteran walked through the doors and stood, unmoving in front of the register. My mom had protested against Vietnam, and she proceeded to tell him how terrible the Vietnam War was, and he looked at her and said, ‘Thank you. This store is part of my history, and some of the best years of my life happened here.’ ” — Rachel Mason, producer and director,Circus of Books*
The original Circus of Books—called “Book Circus”—opened in West Hollywood in 1967, followed by the Silver Lake location at Sunset Junction. An exhibition celebrating the communal culture and backrooms of Karen and Barry Mason‘s adults-only emporiums—fifty years of getting off—is now on view in Manhattan.
The show—curated by David Fierman with Rachel Mason—features artwork by Wilder Alison, Ron Athey, Adam Baran, Bengala, Erik Bergrin, Michael Bilsborough, RaynesBirkbeck, Seth Bogart, Chris Bogia, Kathe Burkhart, Deric Carner, Chivas Clem, Scott Covert, Vaginal Davis, Anne Doran, Thomas Dozol, Zackary Drucker, Ruben Esparza, Tom of Finland, Karen Finley, Benjamin Fredrickson, ektor garcia, Mariah Garnett, Mark Golamco, Jeff Grant, Michelle Handelman, Charles Hovland, Scott Hug, David Hurles, Stephen Irwin, William E. Jones, Wayne Koestenbaum, Mike Kuchar, Bruce LaBruce, Dawn Mellor, Lucas Michael, Billy Miller, Bob Mizer, David Mramor, Narcissister, Dominic Nurre, Mel Ottenberg, Jack Pierson, Breyer P-Orridge, Pre-Echo Press, Fay Ray, Mariah Robertson, Dean Sameshima, Stuart Sandford, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Margie Schnibbe, Michael Stipe, Chris E. Vargas, Mark Verabioff, Jan Wandrag, Karlheinz Weinberger, Jimmy Wright, and Dorian Wood.
From top: Vaginal Davis, Ascyltos of the Satyricon, 2016, ink on paper; Dominic Nurre, ValeofCashmereHead, 2017–19, coconut shell, coconut oil, salt lick, and acrylic; David Mramor, PinkStar, 2019, oil, acrylic, and inkjet on canvas; Wayne Koestenbaum, David at Leisure, 2019, oil and graphite on canvas paper; Lucas Michael, G5CR, 2017, neon; Dawn Mellor, Southend Beach, 2013, oil, Tipp-ex, and marker pen on linen; Jimmy Wright, Griffith Park, LA, 1973, graphite and charcoal on graph paper; Seth Bogart, Faggots, 2019, ceramic; Mike Kuchar, Liquid Dreams, circa 1980s–1990s, pencil, pens, felt pens, and ink on paper; Scott Hug, Untitled (STH_PW_003), 2018, collage; Jeff Grant, Snow and Holes, 2018, archival inkjet print, staples, and clearlay; Karen Finley, dickless, 2018, ink on paper. Images courtesy the artists and Fierman gallery. Special thanks to David Fierman and Rachel Mason.
“Every time I enter a new room I scan for other queers. Maybe it’s a hunt for fleeting solidarity, maybe safety—not that the two are opposed. I didn’t know I did this until I didn’t have to, when I arrived in a place—[Fire Island]—where queer and its variants was the baseline. It is a profound experience, one I will never take for granted, even as I know the exclusions it enacts.
“This is a very personal show, in the sense that it has no pretensions of thoroughness or coherence. A series of friendships and encounters organized around a shared experience of finding one’s place. Just some people inhabiting a tiny speck of the world and—to borrow a phrase by Douglas Crimp, another friend from the island—misfitting together.” — RyanMcNamara*
McNamara brings Fire Island to Manhattan with a new exhibition of work by TravisBoyer, Jack Brusca, TM Davy, Raúl de Nieves, Nicole Eisenman, K8 Hardy, Kia Labeija, MatthewLeifheit, Hanna Liden, Tiffany Malakooti, Samuel Roeck, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, DevanShimoyama, A.L. Steiner, Wolfgang Tillmans, Cajsa von Zeipel, and himself.
*”Misfitting together” is a quote from Popism: The Warhol Sixties, by Andy Warhol and Pat Hackett (1980), referenced by Douglas Crimp in his book “Our Kind of Movie”: The Films of Andy Warhol (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012), 157, note 29:
“I [Warhol] was reflecting that most people thought the Factory was a place where everybody had the same attitudes about everything; the truth was, we were all odds-and-ends misfits, somehow misfitting together.”
From top: Ryan McNamara, Cemical Compound(6/8/2018), 2019, wood, plaster, paint, psilocybin, amyl nitrate, gamma-hydroxybutyrate, Truvada; Wolfgang Tillmans, Far awayinside (Echo Beach), 2017, inkjet print; Matthew Leifheit; Meat Rack Gathering, 2018, dye sublimation print on aluminum; Nicole Eisenman and Tiffany Malakooti, Remarkable Lesbian Chess Set, 2016, clay, wood, and paint; A.L. Steiner, Untitled (Rachel on bay, Pines), 2016–2019; Fire installation view with K8 Hardy‘s jockstrap collection—Look Pines, 2016, fiberglass mannequin, metal base, cloth, enamel paint, synthetic wig—in foreground; Devan Shimoyama, Untitled, 2015–2018, dye-sublimation print on aluminum (2); Cajsa von Zeipel, Boy’s Tears, 2019, styrofoam, fiberglass, aqua resin, plaster; Travis Boyer, Le Fountain, 2019, embellished and dyed wool blanket on beeswax, wood, and steel frame; Jack Brusca, Pines Pavilion Logo, 1980, acrylic on canvas; Kia LaBeija, New Legend Lucky 007 on Fire Island, 2018, digital inkjet print.
Paul Mpagi Sepuya, The Conditions, from top: Mirror Study (0X5A7394); A Portrait(0X5A8325); Drop Scene (0X5A8165). Sheree Hovsepian and Paul Mpagi Sepuya, from top: Paul MpagiSepuya, Portrait Study (_1980812); Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Darkroom Mirror (_2100693). Images courtesy the artist and Team Gallery.