Difficult Gifts / Backside
devotion / desire
active / passive
dominant / submissive
top / bottom
whole body / broken body
good / bad
“Difficult Gifts / Backside” is a piece that inquisitively considers these binaries and simply yearns to offer up a perspective that occupies the “between” spaces within such binary modes of being and identifying - no definitive statements are made. These ideas are a product of personal history and experience.
As a whole, this installation was conceived out of thinking about the seemingly disparate relationship between faith as defined by Christianity and gayness. In certain Christian communities, the body is violently gendered, taken apart and reduced; induced experiences of shame and guilt radically influence and restrict the cognitive development of queer identities. While the queer body may endure and mature, it may relentlessly have to exist within the fixed binary, defined by the terms “good” and “bad”. While it may not be exactly possible to undo this process, what is suggested here is potential point of access - that it is possible to harness these experiences of guilt and shame in order to radically shift these binary confinements. This is what lead me to draw from perhaps one of the most anti-heteronormative expressions of sexulity and sexual freedom: gay BDSM and S&M culture. In these practices, extreme pain, restraint, inflicted shame and are desired; the body passes through transformative states of ecstasy. In surveying pornography and images of gay men participating in S&M and bondage play, a commonality between gay sex and Christianity begins to emerge. Suddenly, Jesus’ blessing hand is familiar to a hand ready for anal play, the kneeling body is familiar to the submissive body, the ecstasy of pain and pleasure in sex is familiar to the ecstasy of God’s love, and so rules begin to break and an opportunity to blur the binary occurs.
The altar, and especially the area behind the altar, in Christian churches is a sacred space, reserved for clergy. Historically the altar has been a place of sacrifice, and even today Christian congregations commemorate and re-live what is to be considered the ultimate sacrifice through the Eucharist. The altar remains a place where body and blood is consumed. “Difficult Gifts / Backside” presents an solid concrete altar, bearing its own weight (900 + lbs) that queers the notion of sacred space and these binaries. My hope is that these “gifts” or offerings, offer up a perspective on faith and sexuality that can be appreciated, respected and admired.
digital prints, white portland cement, wax, hydraulic cement, hardware, stoneware, plywood, acrylic, steel, laquer, resin, plaster, lube and other fluids