The Foundation (2015) is a film installation by Patrick Staff, co-commissioned with Chisenhale Gallery, London; Spike Island, Bristol; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; and Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver.
The work explores queer intergenerational relationships negotiated through historical materials. The film combines footage shot at the Tom of Finland Foundation in Los Angeles – home to the archive of the erotic artist and gay icon and a community of people that care for it – with choreographic sequences shot within a specially constructed set.
The legacy of Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen (1920-1991), better known as Tom of Finland, spans multiple generations; his work made a considerable impact on masculine representation and imagery in post-war gay culture. The foundation was established in 1984 by Tom and his friend Durk Dehner to preserve his vast catalogue of homoerotic art, whilst endeavoring to – to quote the organization’s website – ‘educate the public to the cultural merits of erotic art and in promoting healthier, more tolerant attitudes about sexuality.’ Today, Durk runs the organization and lives in the house, along with a handful of other employees and artists.
Rather than focusing on Tom of Finland’s work, Staff’s film evokes the foundation as a set of relations. They explore how a collection is formed and constituted; the communities that produce and are produced by a body of work; and ideas of intergenerational relationships and care. Through observational footage of house, its collections and inhabitants, the foundation is revealed as a domestic environment, a libidinal space, archive, office and community center; a private space which is also the home of a public-facing organization and the source of a widely dispersed body of images.
Staff foregrounds their own identity and their personal dialogue with the different communities of the foundation to consider how ideas of intergenerational inheritance and exchange are complicated by gender identity and presentation. The documentary footage of the foundation is intercut with a series of scenes, which are shot in a set incorporating aspects of the building’s architecture and technologies and operate within the register of experimental theatre. In these sequences, featuring their interactions with an older actor, Staff uses choreography and props to explore the body as a site for the construction and deconstruction of subjectivities.
Patrick Staff is an artist based in London, UK and Los Angeles, USA. Staff received their BA in Fine Art and Contemporary Critical Studies from Goldsmiths University of London in 2009. Staff’s work has been exhibited at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles; New Museum, New York; Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis; and the Tate Modern, amongst other venues. They completed the LUX Associate Artists Programme in 2011 and received the Paul Hamlyn Award for Visual Artists, 2015.
Scritto da Zero Zurich