pleasurehome: desiring queer space
four months—four new works—one by one—here; welcome to the pleasurehome. an exhibition inspired by Catherine Opie, featuring John Greyson, Evan Sproat, Kaeten Bonli, and Shawné Michaelain Holloway, curated by Logan Williams, in collaboration with the Art Museum at The University of Toronto and the Jackman Humanities Institute. we’re happy you’re here—in this queer home. this month: Evan Sproat’s Fated Union. On view until March 3, 2022.
Self-Portrait / Cutting
40 x 30 inches (101.6 x 76.2 cm) Edition of 8, 2 AP
© Catherine Opie, Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles and
Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, London, and Seoul
you catch a glimpse of your body as you strip off your sweat-soaked clothes, naked in the mirror. breathing, moving. if only you could explode out of the container. two women carved rendered in childish forms a house the sun some gulls the “household” upended incisions made in Opie’s back drip and ooze palpable the transference of the pain on my body reaching out and touching me carnal hermeneutics the lesbian home corporeal ten commandments and the abject stains of blood and gore immediate refusal for some even vomit the scene is one of hope and violence audience oscillation desiring her pain a new story told the lesbians are me they are you too the scar will surely stay sprawled on supple skin reminders of otherwise horizons exploding like dormant volcanoes this body suffering for us opie’s drawing her skin too becoming life-size taking form making real communities desires pulsing unencumbered this new home what does that place look like? where do you come home to your queer desires? and when? imagining spaces arriving in your body carrying with you the crass and dull weights of expectation and survival shedding them now building new trusses a roof for us our desire our real real bodies exploding out of the container how did you get home?
2 – Fated Union
Fated Union, 2022
Photographs by Brigitte Patenaude
Fated Union was presented in February 2022 as the second installment of this project. For inquiries on where to view it, visit evansproat.com.
Old, new, borrowed, blue; pleasurehome: desiring queer space welcomes Evan Sproat’s Fated Union as this month’s featured artwork.
In the act of reproduction, the praying mantis is famously known for ripping off the head of her lover, his fertilization providing up to 400 eggs which she guards with fierce protection from other insect predators. She is the strong-willed, passionate woman of story books and speculative fiction, the prescient symbol of a fierce feminism as she rears her mantids for a cruel survivance plagued by potential cannibalism. Her slow, articulated movements are balletic and gestural, acting as the perfect guise for the potency of her attack, thousands of sharp protrusions rendering her prey helpless as she digests them through her slender body. In shades of blue and ivory, Evan Sproat’s Fated Union sees the story of the mantis told in a repurposed wedding gown, replete with supple bows and delicate buttons, in a series of striking photographs that crackle with nostalgia with the use of 120mm film. Sproat’s practice has been lauded as a meditative approach to character, weaving together a storied mise-en-scene with craft, handiwork, costume and set production, including his own body as the subject of these narratives. Confronting stories perpetuated through the expectations of normative gender performance, Sproat welcomes the emergence of a complicated dialectic between artist and audience, creating space for encounters in which the viewer can project themselves into the unfolding scene, wrapped in plush environments that challenge notions of performance, comfort, and home. Protruding nails from knit gloves removed from the walls of his old apartment and a dress given to him by a former housemate are imbued with a sense of lived history; remnants of home are reimagined as tools to build new worlds.
The ravenous mantis and the dewy wedding day collide to reveal the desire and violence inherent in queer experience, upending the marriage vows as performative constructions beckoning reconsideration. Fated Union seductively draws the eye to the immaculate composition of fabrics and textures while complicating the gaze through material interventions, the male body standing as both bride and insect. The photographs beckon for slow-time on the online interface, where hyper-fast scrolling and tiresome Zoomscapes dominate our capacity for attention, prompting an intimate viewing experience in which to contemplate the construction of homes and how we build them. Fated Union vulnerably stages the intersections of a haunting past and a potential future in which queer home springs to life.
An immense thank you to Barbara Fischer for her belief and guidance in the unfurling of this project; to Marianne, Maureen, and Esther at the Art Museum whom have made this project possible; to Kaitlyn Simpson for her genius; to Cathy Opie who helped sow the seeds of the exhibition; to Alison and Kim at the JHI for their unwavering support; to Cosita, SKP, and Z for their love and listening; to John, Evan, Kaeten and Shawné for their brilliance and versatility, to whom I dedicate this queer home. And to you, for being here. Thank you.