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Contemporary Art Gallery

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Vancouver, Canada
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Patrick Staff

The Foundation


This book documents the eponymous work by British artist, Patrick Staff, presented at the Chisenhale Gallery, London; Spike Island, Bristol; Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; and the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane. 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. Tom of Finland’s work made a considerable impact on masculine representation and imagery in post-war gay culture. Rather than focusing on Tom of Finland’s work, Staff’s film evokes the foundation as a set of relations. Staff explores 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 the house, its collections and inhabitants, the foundation is revealed as a domestic environment, a libidinal space, archive, office and community centre; a private space which is also the home of a public-facing organisation and the source of a widely dispersed body of images.

Texts by Isla Leaver-Yap and Catherine Lord. Conversation between Patrick Staff and Tom of Finland Foundation’s S.R. Sharp.

The publication was produced in 2015 alongside the exhibition The Foundation, February 12 – April 24, 2016.

The Foundation is co-commissioned by the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Chisenhale Gallery, London; Spike Island, Bristol; and Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane. Co-produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London and Spike Island, Bristol. With thanks to the Tom of Finland Foundation.

The Foundation is supported by Arts Council England Grants for the Arts, The Elephant Trust and the Genesis Prize.

The broadsheet publication and screening project is supported by The British Council.


Mousse Publishing