In collaboration with Lucas McDaniel and Austyn De Lugo
Hard Copy felt like an important addition to my "Dollhouses" series. While previous installations put particular focus on the intersection of the art world and the commercial world, Hard Copy explored the relationship between retail, community, and safe space. Gay, lesbian, and feminist stores all have long histories as important private places for targeted or dis-empowered communities. It is necessary to note that Hard Copy was an homage to a very specific type of gay space. Indeed, Lucas's work typically plays with the power of different modes of display and anesthetization, often in connection with gay coding.
In keeping with the to-scale dollhouse concept, the books in Hard Copy were not actually for sale. By removing the anticipated commercial aspect of the space, we hoped to expose the other ways in which it functions. The idea of historicization and communal memory in gay culture is something central to both Lucas's work and that of collaborating artist Austyn de Lugo. As we discussed the project, we wondered if in the modern era of gay Internet culture, erotic bookstores often operate more like communal archives than individual commercial or social spaces. With this question in mind, Lucas and Austyn hand-annotated images from the vintage gay porn magazines on display in the Hard Copy shop - creating a physical catalogue/zine/archive, which we also made available online.
In 2017, America faces newly emboldened rhetoric of bigotry and hate. Lucas, Austyn and I found ourselves asking new and unanticipated questions about the future form of gay safe spaces. Hopefully, Hard Copy will provide an intellectual and physical jumping off point for conversations on this topic.
"If erotic writing is the objectification of sex, then reading is its subjectification." - Mark John Isola
When artist Lucas McDaniel first approached me, in the Fall of 2016, to turn a storage unit at our studios into a gay erotic bookstore, I didn't realize how complex the project would feel as 2016 came to a close.