House of Stuart

STUART SANDFORD STANDS IN THEkitchen of the Tom of Finland Foundation house in Echo Park, a tall bespectacled ginger wearing an LA Dodgers tank top, the vision of a perfect Angeleno. And like many Angelenos, the artist is a transplant, via Berlin and New York from the U.K., where he was born. He has been living in the over-century-old Craftsman style former home of the erotic art icon for nearly three years now. Initially as an artist-in-residence and now as a resident artist “I work with a couple of fabrication studios, and there’s a foundry I work with in San Fernando; he did the bronze head,” Sanford says. “Depending on what I’m doing, I’ll find myself on the third floor here if I’m just working on my laptop, or if I’m painting, I’ll be outside in the garden.”

The bronze head, which lays diagonally on a plinth in a sitting room in the house, is, to Sandford, much more a photograph than the classical sculpture it resembles. “If you think of analog photography as photography 1.0, and then digital photography as 2.0, 3-D scanning would be 3.0, but instead of having a two-dimensional image you can blow up to any size, you have a three-dimensional image you can print and blow up to any size,” he says. “That’s what I do. I make a 3-D print, and then cast from the 3-D print. It is part of the photographic process.” This particular series comes from his sculpture Sebastian—based on a 3-D scan of German-American model Sebastian Sauvé in his underwear, holding a camera to take a selfie. From this full-body statue, he isolates several body pieces, which are then subtitled (relic). The head in question is the first of the series, Sebastian (relic) no.1.

Sandford explains that the classical form is a reference to Antinous, Emperor Hadrian’s young lover from the early part of the 2nd century, whom Hadrian deified after his death. “More sculptures and likenesses were commissioned of him than any other figure in Greco-Roman history,” says Sandford. “And a religion grew up around him that lasted for 400 years before Christianity came through and swept everything away. There’s actually a bust of Antinous where’s he’s looking downwards, and his left shoulder is slightly elevated as though he’s holding something, so that was one of the references for this sculpture, where he’s actually looking down at a camera and taking a selfie. I wanted to play with these ideas: ‘How does one create an idol? How does one create a contemporary—not worship-able form, but some kind of icon?’”

References to classical imagery, eroticism and the selfie are a few of the dominant leitmotifs in Sandford’s work. An early series, Cumfaces, where he asked friends and acquaintances to photograph themselves at the point of climax, remains an important notch in his career. These selfies reveal the most important theme in Sandford’s work: intimacy.

His artist residency projects at the Tom of Finland Foundation consist of publications that contain Polaroid photographs of friends, acquaintances, lovers and others in his orbit. Many of those photographs are in Sandford’s most recent exhibition, “Pictures,” on view at Queer/Bar in Seattle through October 31st. They are beautiful gauzy photographs and not quite documentary. Sandford sets up the shoots beforehand yet the intimacy bubbles through, like a kind of Robert Mapplethorpe-meets-Nan Goldin sensuality.“I already have an intimate relationship with most of my subjects,” says Sandford. “I’m either dating them, or they’re a friend of mine. I’m trying to depict intimacy between myself and the subject. Yes, there are moments of eroticism, but my goal isn’t to arouse you, per se. If that happens, that’s fine, but that’s not necessarily my goal.”

Odd, considering the final piece Sandford shows me is a small 3-D printed sculpture of a young man giving himself autofellatio. He laughs when he shows it to me because it’s without question an extremely erotic image. Then he explains that the sculpture is called Ouroboros after the symbol of the snake eating its own tail, popular in Greek mythology. It all comes full circle.

© 2018 Maxwell Williams/LALA Magazine

Stuart Sandford’s ‘Polaroids’ Is a Gauzy Snapshot of Longing and Self-Discovery

Ten years after his sexy and provocative Cumfaces series captured guys around the world mid-climax, LA-based visual artist Stuart Sandford has released a more personal project: a book of Polaroids documenting his experience finding—and losing—love. Equal parts cathexis and catharsis, Polaroids reaches beyond that ill-fated relationship to include intimate snaps of friends and lovers taken in Los Angeles in 2017, and comes in two editions—one standard and the other an artist’s edition containing an original signed and dated Polaroid, naturally. For those unfamiliar with Sandford’s work, his CV speaks for itself—he’s shot for legendary queer quarterly Butt, been an artist in residence at the Tom of Finland Foundation in LA, and more recently held solo exhibitions in Europe and the U.S. In a recent email conversation, Sandford shared the inspiration behind the project, the message he hopes to convey, and his plans for the future. Check it out, along with selections from Polaroids, below.

Tell us a bit more about who you are and where you come from.
My name is Stuart Sandford and I’m a visual artist from merry old England, but I’ve been based in Los Angeles, via Berlin and New York, for about 3 years now.

How did the book came about?
I wasn’t initially sure what the book was or why I was even taking Polaroids, but, as can often happen with art, one takes an action without fully realizing what it will become. For a long time I’d wanted to make a book about a single person, a lover, documenting the obsession one can have with a lover, and at the beginning of the year I fell head over heels in love with a guy, a fellow artist. I thought, “yes, this is the subject I’ve been waiting for.” I took some beautiful Polaroids of him but he ended up cheating on me and breaking my heart; we’re no longer together.

I wasn’t able to make any work for months afterwards and I’m still not over him, I don’t think I ever will be, as I truly believed he was the one, but then I started meeting other guys, some from before I met him, some from after, and picked up my Polaroid camera and just started shooting. So in a sense this is a book about breaking up but also finding oneself again.

How did you cast the subjects?
I didn’t cast them per se—they’re all friends or lovers—but I did make selections of who/what to include or not include. The ones that made the cut were those that were, or at least felt, the most authentic.

What do you want to make people feel with your work?
I always wanted my work to be celebratory, both about the body and about being gay or queer. I’m not interested in turning the viewer on, although if that’s what happens that’s fine. I’m more interested in just making them look and feel.

Who inspires you as a photographer?
I studied fine art so I not only looked at photographers (Wolfgang Tillmans, Nan Goldin, Ryan McGinley) but also sculptors, painters, performance artists, and filmmakers. Film and TV have always been my driving force. A lot of my earlier work references the films and TV shows I watched as a kid/teenager, and I do have some future projects that will explore those things again.

What are you working on now?
I’m putting down my Polaroid camera for a while and have two sculptural commissions I’m working on as well as developing a feature film about Antinous and Hadrian, the world’s first gay power couple.

© 2017 Alex Black/Into More

Introduction to 1421 Laveta Terrace

When Stuart came to reside at TOM House and enter into our informal artist in residence program, he had fairly defined ideas on what he wanted to achieve whilst in residence yet, not unlike many artists coming to terms with their own bailiwick of issues they have to contend with in being artistic, as days passed and as financial resources went down and not up Stuart started to display nervousness and uncertainty. We had several informal chats revolving around trusting the process and that there were larger forces at work here and the wise action was to get out of ones way. It was not long before it was evident that Stuart was in the flow of it, as opportunities started coming his way and his creative flow of ideas were springing up on a regular basis.

TOM House operates in a communal living style and for those who are not used to such there can be a definite attitude adjustment required to bring one in harmony with the house. I doubt if he would ever choose such living situations over more singular private scenarios. He at least can now say he knows what it’s all about!

Much like a symphony, he relaxed into living at TOM House and taking advantage of the vast archives both in books, art, and video and film. He had the brilliant idea to document his time here with assistance from the Impossible Project (the company who bought the last Polaroid film factory and who now manufactures Polaroid film under the Impossible Project brand and reconditioned Polaroid cameras) and with a steady beat he captured the house itself (a 104 year old Craftsman style house, considered to be the jewel in the crown of Laveta Terrace when it was built) alongside both the eclectic mix of humans visiting and residing within it and the cat and dog menagerie both resident and visiting, with the regular almost daily offering of tours, events, and visitors, using the amazing light offered up at the sunset of a winters day.

TOM House is more or less a cultural site, of which there are few such locations in the world that offer an ever growing collection of visual works that depict the expressions of the male homosexual (with a dash of everyone else for public opinion). I need to let you all know that homosexuals do not have many sites in the world that they can call theirs, this is one such place that has a wealth of visual creations that speak to the magic and power of such and as Stuart began going out and meeting new friends he would bring them for tours that he himself conducted through the House and gardens. I felt he owned this responsibility and thus It did not occur to me to stop him for I knew that he would communicate the essence of this place, no matter if he didn’t always know the name of the artist whose work was on the wall or not.

I was notably impressed upon standing back and observing Stuart’s involvements here, indulging in the varying environments of TOM House and the Tom of Finland Foundation, taking advantage of the abundant archive resources, and the actual physicality of the property. I started to view what was coming forth from him much like a small symphony that was being written through his actions and creations. There is an amazing harmony in the movements as separate entities were brought together by forces that, for descriptive purposes, can be described as the actual presence of TOM House. In- deed an individual gallerist, Edward Cella, and a fellow companion came to view Tom’s work and, in the process, met Stuart. This would lead to another movement, later in the symphony, which would see Edward purchase the series of Polaroids taken by Stuart thus leading to the book you currently hold in your hands and to another movement in the symphony.

Well as is the case with the amazing garden of artistic expressions the foundation house and grounds produce and grow, Stuart was a beam of sunshine to have on a daily basis at the TOM House. Full of rather individualized characteristics he had concerns of getting too involved in the house and being sidetracked in his work, to having a rather interesting relationship with spirits, no, not ghosts but the alcohol variety. No insult intended but you have to know a few Brits to understand! Well let’s put it this way if you are going to have a party make sure you invite some Brits then you and everyone else will have a good time, as was the case on New Year’s Eve when Stuart brought to TOM House his own caravan of attractive gypsy troop of young men who became completely at home and expanded out into the far reaches of the garden within minutes to bring in the new year and spread their good spirits into the ethos of the house.

Upon reading the above depiction you will, I hope, make your own journey over to TOM House
in Echo Park and when you do make sure you turn your eyes upward in the breakfast room where lies on the ceiling one more artistic presence of Mr. Sandford’s mark. He is a man that designs his life much alike a Johnny Appleseed spreading his insights and observations as he trots down that cobblestone pathway of his life. Please see his “end of term” discussion that is available on YouTube at TomOfFinlandsMen channel ...and, of course, enjoy this book. Although filled with photographs capturing both real and created/curated moments, Stuart prefers not to be type cast as a photogra- pher, and indeed nor a sculptor, but an artist free to use any medium to express his love of life.

Durk Dehner
Co-Founder and President, Tom of Finland Foundation Los Angeles
June 4th 2015

© 2015 Durk Dehner/Tom of Finland Foundation

Mixing Classical and Gay Male Teen Desire

In the Natural History, Pliny the Elder discusses the origins of sculpture by telling the story of Butades of Corinth, the first Greek modeler of clay. According to the story, Butades’s daughter, deeply in love with a young man about to leave, drew upon the wall the outline of his shadow. The father then used the outline to model a statue of the youth, creating a substitute of the loved one and inventing sculpture.

Classical Latin literature may not be the first topic to come to your mind when visiting Teen Dreams, Stuart Sandford’s homoerotic show at the Invisible Line Gallery. Sandford’s work has been exhibited widely and his images published in gay cult magazine BUTT (which in the pages featured photographs by a then young and unknown Wolfgang Tillmans), but this is his first solo show in the UK.

London has been experiencing a new batch of explicitly homosexual content. Last year’s show Keep Your Timber Limber at the Institute of Contemporary Art featured daring works on paper addressing the topic. Among those were some drawings by Tom of Finland, one of the most influential creators of gay erotic images. It doesn’t come as a surprise that Sandford is currently artist-in-residence at the Tom of Finland Foundation in Echo Park, LA.

Teen Dreams, produced in conjunction with Fringe! Film and Arts Festival, features a collection of recent works the artist developed during his residency there. Sandford often uses found images, from YouTube videos to selfies of young men available on the internet. In particular, he seems to have a soft spot for 1980s teen fan magazines. The C-type print series Noah (2014) and Teen Dreams (2009–14) — the former based on portraits of American actor Noah Hathaway — show decontextualized images of ’80s teen idols put in sequence to acknowledge hidden homoerotic inclinations. The strategy of appropriation has been used extensively by gay artists for diverse reasons, often as a means of connecting with the established art system. These artists may seek social acceptance, they may want to conceal homoerotic contents — or they may use appropriation as a way of mining and subverting the heteronormative art world from within.

Initially it seems that Sandford keeps his work within the context of homosexual desire, mirroring the dynamics of a certain gay scene. But as David (diptych) (2014), a Polaroid diptych depicting the butt and genitals of a young man, makes clear, there’s more going on. The longer you look at the images, the more you realize that many of the features now often associated with homosexual desire — vanity, eternal youth, sculpted bodies — are also at the roots of the Western artistic tradition. After all, when he tells his story, Pliny feels the need to emphasize that Butades’s daughter was deeply in love with her young man and trying to eternalize him in art. The Greek myth of Pygmalion — the sculptor who fell in love with one of his works — further illustrates the connection between art and desire. So, the celebration of male youth that’s featured in Sandford’s works gradually moves from the vague category of “gay art” to a wider context.

Looking at Sebastian (2012–TBA), I couldn’t stop thinking about the classical representation of masculine beauty. To realize this small sculpture, Sandford contacted Sebastian Sauvé, one of the world’s leading male models, to pose for him. The artist used advanced high-resolution 3D-scanning technology to map Sauvé’s body, immortalized while taking a selfie. The individual 3D scans were then combined into a digital model for 3D printing. The result, cast in bronze, mashes up the classical canon of beauty with the cult of selfies and representations of homosexual desire.

The artist told me he’s currently working on another sculpture using the same technique. The commission came from a New York gallerist who sent his young, handsome lover to Sandford’s studio in LA to get a 3D scan of his body, which will be translated into an intimate sculpture. If Butades were alive today, he would probably do something similar.

© 2014 Francesco Dama/Hyperallergic

HUNG

One might say a darkroom resembles the second circle of Dante’s Inferno. In there casted are those overcome by lust. Alighieri condemns these “carnal malefactors” for letting their appetites sway their reason. They are the first ones to be truly punished. These souls are blown about to and fro by the terrible winds of a violent storm, without hope of rest. This symbolizes the power of lust to blow one about needlessly and aimlessly. But there’s nothing wrong with “the power of lust to blow”. In fact the darkroom is a space of freedom for sexual degenerates, an area of classless race for pleasure. A safe haven where kinky desires flourish. He might be fat and he might be less than handsome. What difference does it make? It’s pitch black anyway. All you need to do is use your cerebral cortex and make him be the way you want him to be. Men are nothing more than blurry visions obscured by cultural norms.

The artists of HUNG are lifting this oppressive curtain and allow us to gaze with their eyes at the normative product of the modern society – The Man. Their point of view appears to be rather ironic and iconoclastic. The images of HUNG men are utterly personal statements of its authors and as such become self-portraits. Because today the male gaze in no longer a penetrating look of patriarchal violence. Today it is a gaze of The Narcissist.

Narcissism is the personality quality that consists in attending overwhelmingly to one’s own needs and desires. The narcissists loom up the other side of the huge inflated self, as facilitators or inhibitors of the self’s projects. It is usually convenient for the narcissist to project onto these half-real others motives and desires that suit the self, rather than to inquire about the real other’s actual needs. For the narcissist, other people exist, in a shadowy way, but they are not fully real. Just as not fully real are the men of HUNG. Remember Immanuel Kant? The old koenigsbergian thought that all human beings become narcissists when having sexual relations. And what the hell is wrong with that? So remove your clothes and blink your narcissist eye, it’s good to be a carnal malefactor.

© 2010 Lukasz M. Maciejewski

Creamy Goodness

When I was 14 my Mum found gay porn under my mattress. I knew she changed my sheets, but I guess I got complacent – my bedroom was the only space I had to be alone, think, jerk off. It was where I came to terms with my desires and myself.

The bedroom is a safe space – or, as close to a safe space as most teenagers are going to get. It’s a place that comes to define who you are. The walls become your canvas: plastered with images of heart-throbs, they become an extension – and reflection – of yourself. The bedroom is a private projection and affirmation of sexuality: it doesn’t extend into the world, but only reflects back on the bedroom’s inhabitant and possessor. The objects you take into your bedroom become the materials with which is it created and defined. Cut-off from their original context, they become pieces of yourself. Heart-throb images marketed to teenage girls become your own property to gaze at, admire, wank over.

In Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising, the eponymous protagonist’s bedroom is the stuff of teen dreams – a veritable shrine to those icons of 60s masculinity, James Dean and Marlon Brando. Scorpio smokes his Luckies, strokes his puss, reads his funnies. The joke is that, while neither the protagonist’s actions or bedroom’s adornments are queer in themselves, his sanctum reveals more about him than he would probably like. While the images of leather- clad Brando and Dean are not intentionally homoerotic, a previously-muted fetishistic tendency within them is revealed through Anger’s lens.

Similarly, Stuart Sandford takes seemingly innocuous images of 80s teen heartthrobs (Chad Allen, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Matthew Broderick are particular favourites) and decontexualises them to reveal a certain homoeroticism that has hitherto gone unnoticed. Indeed, the subjects are posited not as teenagers, but as twinks – a term with unavoidable sexual connotations. The twink is the embodiment of flowering sexuality and untouched male beauty. Like the non-nutritional Twinkie from his name derives, the twink is sweet to the taste and brim-filled with cream. Yet he also has an expiry date – the twink’s status as such is dependant on age, and in years to come, he will exist only in pictures that captured his fleeting youth. In this way the twink is untouchable and ephemeral; the closet we can get to the twink of our fantasies is to kiss his immobile image, cum on his glossy picture.

In Sandford’s work, desire in all its manifest forms is embraced and celebrated. In his bedroom, we are caught in a circle of looks – the looks of the twinks of the images, the imagined looks of the bedroom’s owner, and the looks of our fellow spectators. We are doing nothing if not being voyeuristic, but we are resigned to looking but not touching, our desire never reaching fulfilment.

In Twink, Stuart Sandford takes the bedroom – usually the most private of domains – and opens it up to public scrutiny. The desire which is normally enclosed is unleashed onto the viewer and the wider world. To whom does this bedroom belong? And do we have the right to be here? We eavesdrop on the (imagined) owner’s privacy and desires, and the effect is at once disquieting and exhilarating. Ever heard the old homophobic line ‘I don’t care what they get up to in their own bedroom, but...’? Well, in Twink the private is made public, sexual desire is outwardly projected – and, effectively, we get spunked on.

© 2010 Owen Myers

Charver with Art; or The Body Is Gone

I had a serious wanking-in-public phase some ten years ago. Now, bringing this back-to- mind I have to ask myself, why on earth did I, a shy blue-eyed angel-boy, risk my ‘good kid’ opinion just to get a shot of adrenaline in my head supplemented by a shot of spunk from my cock? No, it wasn’t for Art. I wish it was. It was because sex in public is, and always will be (until the very end of this prudish, straightlaced and sad world), a human being’s natural need. From natural need develops social phenomenon. And from social phenomenon develops a desire to symbolically represent this reality – in other words, a twisted mind’s creative urge some call art.

First an elucidation on why Stuart Sandford’s recent work, documenting gay cruising grounds in Europe, and his image for the Bloc Billboard are particularly significant. His photos often border on the public-private debate; he edges the subject, crosses the line, makes the spectator confused. It is a matter of his art’s base and super-structure. Such is the case with the ‘Venice’ billboard. Its significance reaches out beyond his previous works, which have explored the male body, or rather a cultural projection of it. This time the body is gone. The usual object of mapping is no longer there. Background becomes Object. It’s a shift from portrait to landscape. But all the same, there is Stuart’s trademark double meaning. This Venice cruising area, looking like any place, anywhere, receives its base and super-structure. The base is very plain. Just bushes one may say, mere sand, no big deal. But the super-structure is what really smacks you. The bushes and the sand become something close to institution after comprehending all of the following:

There should be men there doing their nasty pleasures, seeking a trade, becoming a trade, performing either the act of devoted desperation or simple fellatio. But we’re not going to get that. Neither in this billboard nor in Stuart’s series of landscape photos and videos probing the same subject. This is the moment when the story becomes unreservedly sad. It is close to the moment we get from the snapshot images of Dean Sameshima who made a series of photographs of sex places in Los Angeles[i] . Dowdy buildings on dowdy streets. Padlocked doors. Cabin 2768 closed in 1995. The sun pouring down like it’s five minutes to Armageddon on Hollywood Boulevard. Nostalgia is a common element of both Sameshima and Sandford’s art. Nostalgia is the feeling penetrating the mind, fingering the brain, rimming that hole in a continuum of time whilst looking at those photos. For these are the places where men hunted for love. Not just for trolling[ii]; neither a casual blow-job nor coital intercourse with a married cab driver. Bungee-jumpers without the bungee. Cruising areas were always sovereign space for the queer. Also, a state of mind so sensitively described in one of Justin Chin’s poems:

Lick my butt, I will lick yours then.
We will take care of the world’s shit later
[iii].

But are we actually considering a real social phenomenon or rather an overconfident or even cock-sure judgment? I believe the proof lies somewhere there in Berlin’s Tiergarten, where in the 30’s SA thugs bunked-up before having to send the rest of the cruisers to Dachau just a few years later; they are now scattered on the streets of Eastern Europe where forbidden pleasures used to be cultivated in war-time-ghettos, in a true anus mundi. Or perhaps today, in Queens New York, where lucky hipsters may blow to their sheer
disbelief a closeted Hassid. Cruising areas were the setting of classless and raceless activities of bum bandits, the unconscious revolutionaries of arse.

Imagine it’s 1952, you’re a well off WASP, living with your unaware wife and children in an Edwardian house, you pretend to enjoy your life and believe you really like the new Queen, but at heart you just crave for fucking men. What do you do? You cruise. You cottage. You gag for it with any stranger who just wants to get his knees dirty. Never underestimate the capacity of sex for social-change. Remember Pasolini’s Teorema[iv] ? If that’s not a phenomenon then what is it?

Stuart’s Venice beach, a place where one could once get a blow-job, suntan and sunstroke at the same time is now abandoned. There’s no one left there. And I don’t mean the actual absence of men on the billboard. The institution of public sex-place is withering. The queer of today have joyfully deserted spots like this, instead choosing dating websites, naively trusting they are now civilized. Not quite. In this particular sense Stuart’s frequently voyeuristic art becomes more in the manner of an archivist.

Most gay men now prefer to select and to be selected. They publicise themselves and their cocks like in some sort of advert. Many queers are now logged on dating websites harshly demolishing the frolicking pleasure of getting fucked in a local park. Now it’s just teens and twinks. Oldies and daddies. Muscle and leather. Categories. Sorts. Classes. Men voluntarily put themselves into groups of membership users like they have become products in the local ASDA.

This billboard however possesses a culture jamming factor. But I’m not going to write about the Billboard Liberation Front[v] because Stuart’s piece is not really about that. There is a certain reference though within his Bloc project heading in that direction. Culture jamming has been characterized as a form of public activism, generally in opposition to commercialism and the vectors of corporate image. This is one of the crucial shifts in the “shag me in the bushes movement” and of what has happened to it in recent years. It has become part of a corporate image. Today there is always someone getting his share from a human being willing to fuck. And I don’t mean a threesome. One pays. One may log in. One may browse.

I’m sure Stuart is utterly happy showing you a billboard that sells nothing. Just nostalgia. At least that’s what comes for free. His work is just like looking back in time. Like re- visiting the house you were born in all those years ago. It looks the same but there’s something different. Something is lost.

NOTES

[i]Dean Sameshima, Wonderland, 1996/97
[ii] There are a number of Polari used in this text. Polari was a form of cant slang used in the gay subculture in Britain where it was used to disguise homosexual activity from potentially hostile outsiders. There is some debate about how it originated. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polari
[iii] Justin Chin, Bite Hard (Manic D Press), 1997
[iv]Pier Paolo Pasolini, Theorem (Teorema), 1968. Terence Stamp plays a mysterious figure who appears in the lives of a typical bourgeois Italian family. He engages in sexual affairs with all members of the household: the devoutly religious maid, the sensitive son, the sexually repressed mother, the timid daughter and, finally, the tormented father. The stranger gives unstintingly of himself, asking nothing in return. Then one day he leaves, as suddenly and mysteriously as he came. Unable to endure the void in their lives, the mother becomes a nymphomaniac, the son an artist, the daughter a catatonic and the father a sexual prowler. The servant, on the other hand, appears in the last scene casually performing a miracle. On its release, the religious right and the Vatican criticized the film’s sexual content. The Left considered it “ambiguous” and “visionary”.
[v]The Billboard Liberation Front is a group of “culture jammers” devoted to ‘improving’ billboards by changing key words to radically alter the message, often to an anti- corporate message.

© 2008 Lukasz M. Maciejewski

JOSH LA Trunk Show

With the HOLLYWOOD sign as a scenic backdrop, Arts & Sciences PROJECTS and the JOSH magazine are pleased to announce a one-day outdoor installation of Stuart Sandford’s Cumfaces series and Blow Job video in Griffith Park, Los Angeles. Home to Hollywood’s iconic visual marker, Griffith Park has a storied history as a fertile cruising area where men go to have sex with other men. Art Trunk Show Los Angeles will temporarily reclaim the park as a venue for artistic expression and personal liberty as we combine art, zines, a picnic, and (optional) cruising.

Working primarily in photography and video, UK Visual artist Stuart Sandford is currently based in New York City. Invoking keen directorial and editorial skill, his work calls to mind the tenderness and innocence of Hollywood teen heartthrobs of the 1980s, while re- appropriating and re-contextualizing these familiar icons (including Chad Allen, Corey Haim, and a young, fresh-faced Matthew Broderick) with a provocative, sexy, neo-punk aesthetic. His process challenges the notions of authorship and image-maker (Sandford draws inspiration from eighties teen fan-mags and accepts photographic contributions from others for his own projects). In his Cumface series, Sandford uses an open call process to direct his subjects to submit self-portraits of themselves on the brink of orgasm. Like a skilled director, Sandford sets the constraints for the scene and culls the best performance from his subjects, resulting in a sublimely complex series of images of youth lost in a moment of ecstasy. In Sandford’s more recent Blow Job (2009), he expands his director’s hand to video. Blow Job features a reengineered digital clip (rendered in a silent, ever-so- brief-you-might-miss-it sequence) ostensibly depicting teen heartthrob Zack Morris (Mark- Paul Gosselaar’s character on Saved by the Bell) on the receiving end of some sort of off- camera pleasuring.

Sandford’s work has been exhibited in New York, Basel, Berlin, Rome, Krakow, Brasilia, Vienna and Rotterdam. His images have appeared in numerous publications including BassoTry StateBUTTGT and Kaiserin magazines.

© 2009 Philip Tomaru & Martin Masetto

Cumfaces

What are we left with after orgasm? Not much. Sweat running along the spine. Salivary glands dry like a desert. Semen curdling in bed-sheets. In fact it's no pleasure at all. Every orgasm is as backbreaking as it is ironic. 400 calories lost. 75 if you pulled off solo and that's the most frequent case anyway so don't believe what they say about sex and keeping fit. It's a frustrating and exhausting job. Bed exertion. Struggle in a toilet at your favourite club. Salty taste in your mouth and splashes on your trainers. The knowing gaze of those standing in the queue whilst you exit. A nightmare that sucks, literally. You just want to get back home, brush your teeth, gargle, wash your hands and forget it as soon as possible.

And at this moment of natural reset, of desperate and hopeless torment of a foreskin - if you have one - when you forget how your face swells and your eyes bulge, when it all dries out and crumbles out of your bellybutton, exactly then the voyeur Stuart Sandford puts his camera down.

Have you been excited? - Yes. Have you been embarrassed? - No. - says Bubi Canal when asked about Stuart's shoot originally commissioned by Gay Times magazine in 2007. Most of the guys answered like that. Most of them were happy doing it. For most of them it was an experiment with their own body. Today "victims" of voyeurism are no longer victims, they're willing participants. Today we are asked to be voyeurs. Today it's easier to be one more than ever before.

One can write Stuart's art is post-Warholian but that's the same awkwardness as shooting into a guy's eye. What art isn't? One can write he's inspired by Terry Richardson, which is a colloquialism that needs adding up because, like Wolfgang Tillmans, he's more objective. One can write he appreciates the work of Nan Goldin too, but he has a much better sense of humour than she does.

"Sperm mugs" was a right-wing website's translation of the exhibition title when the series was shown in Krakow, Poland in 2008. Catho-Nazis again, as bright as Slava Mogutin's dream skinheads. Wrong direction gentlemen. Nothing is so obvious here, it's far more elusive. It's blow job time here. So let's enjoy it.

© 2008 Lukasz M. Maciejewski