Drawing In A Straight Line

Nayland Blake, Carlos Motta, Collier Schorr, moderated by Bob Nickas

Artist Panel
Thursday, July 16, 2015, 7pm

Artists Space Books & Talks
55 Walker Street

$5 Entrance Donation
Members Free, Guaranteed Entry

This discussion considers Tom of Finland’s influence upon and reception by artists, as preeminent postwar gay icon. Moderator Bob Nickas will be joined by New York artists Collier Schorr, Nayland Blake and Carlos Motta.

With the rise of queer theory since Tom of Finland distributed his first drawings in the early 1940s, its assimilation into the art world and the academy, and a growing, though necessarily incomplete, queer awareness within mainstream culture, both queer subject matter and its representation and contestation by artists have shifted radically.

Tom of Finland’s drawings established an iconic, deviant masculinity, fundamentally playful and proud. They are formative to many artists’ understanding of the possibilities of representing a body. Yet their joyful projection of, and play upon, identity overlays an instinctive complexity: some of the drawings handle deep-seated taboos, including Nazi iconography unhinged as fetish symbols, whilst cops are guys to fuck and be fucked by, whether through prison bars or in public. The work is washed with a power play imbued within the process of representation itself. As queer art practice has been deconstructed through lines of multiplicity and intersectionality, so have historical understandings of power, and deviation from dominant power, been complexified. For this reason the relationship between Tom of Finland’s work and contemporary artists’ practice remains important.

An artist, writer, curator, and educator, Nayland Blake addresses issues of his own racially mixed background, sexual identity, and body identity. He is represented by Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, Fred, London and Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, and his work is included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum, The Studio Museum of Harlem, LA MoCa, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the DeYoung Museum, among others. His writing has appeared in Interview magazine, Artforum, Out, and OutLook, in which he published a feature on Tom of Finland in 1988, and he is the author of numerous catalog essays. In 1994 he co-curated, with Lawrence Rinder, the exhibition In a Different Light, the first major museum exhibition to examine the impact of queer artists on contemporary art.

Carlos Motta (b. Bogotá, Colombia, 1978) is a multi-disciplinary artist and organizer whose work draws upon political history in an attempt to create counter narratives that recognize suppressed histories, communities, and identities. His work has been shown in solo exhibitions/projects at: Tate Modern, London; New Museum, New York; MoMA/PS1, New York; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Museo de Arte del Banco de la República, Bogotá; and Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, Mexico; and in biennials and festivals such as X Biennale de Lyon (2009); X Gwangju Biennale (2014); Gothenburg International Biennial of Contemporary Art (2015); International Film Festival Rotterdam (2014); and Toronto International Film Festival (2013). A survey exhibition of his work was presented at Röda Sten Konsthall, Gothenburg (2015). Motta won the Main Prize—Future Generation Art Prize in 2014. He teaches at Parsons The New School for Design in New York.

A critic and independent curator based in New York, Bob Nickas has organized more than ninety exhibitions since 1984, and earned a reputation for an individual style that transgresses the accepted. Nickas was Curatorial Advisor at P.S.1/MoMA in New York between 2004-07. He served on the team for the 2003 Biennale de Lyon, contributed a section to Aperto at the 1993 Venice Biennale, and collaborated with Cady Noland on her installation for Documenta IX in 1992. He is the author of several books, including Painting Abstraction, Theft Is Vision and Live Free or Die: Collected Writings 1985-1999. Two new collections—The Dept. of Corrections, and Komp-Laint Dept.—are forthcoming this fall from Karma. 30/130, a survey of his books, catalogs, 'zines, editions and records produced over the past thirty years, will be presented at White Columns In November.

Collier Schorr was born in New York City in 1963 and attended the School of the Visual Arts, New York. Known for her portraits of adolescent men and women, Schorr’s pictures often blend photographic realism with elements of fiction and youthful fantasy. Her work is represented in many public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Jewish Museum, and the Walker Art Center. Her imagery has been used in advertising campaigns for Comme Des Garcons, Topman, Y3 and Bottega Veneta, and most recently, Brioni. She has written for Frieze, Artforum and Parkett, and has taught at Columbia University, the School of Visual Arts, Sarah Lawrence College and Yale.