In This World
555 Hamilton St
Robert Flack, Lyle Ashton Harris and Denis Lessard are three gay artists who, through the language of photographic images, clear a space for the public expression of gay male sexuality within North American culture.
In This World, organized by Keith Wallace at the Contemporary Art Gallery, brings the work of these three individuals together for the first time.
"Both homosexuals and lesbians have been out of sync with the societal expectations implicit within Western systems of church/state, medical science and the mass media," says Wallace. "Indeed any examination of male sexuality in the visual arts has been noticeably absent in this world, except from within the gay male realm."
Each of the artists in In This World approach the issues in different ways. Denis Lessard from Montreal examines the position of being gay in relation to the various incarnations of masculinity that are circulated in the mass media. Lessard presents images he has assembled that span a number of genres—from ad icons such as the Marlboro man to entertainment personalities such as Tom Sellick and Jack Nicholson. Through his somewhat detached presentations, the artist asks us to acknowledge how these images might be received by the gay male community.
Lyle Ashton Harris, a Black gay artist from Los Angeles, turns to his friends and to himself as subject matter with which to question the dominant culture. Harris' is an exploration into the contradictory and often unexplainable aspects of the self, and the construction of gender and racial roles. The photograph becomes his stage on which to enact this exploration.
Robert Flack from Toronto pictures the male body as a vessel of energy centres. These energy centres are based upon metaphysical concepts of the chakras and meditation derived from Tantric rituals that promote the unity of body and mind. For Flack, these images metaphorically empower the body, bringing it to an exalted physical state.