This project began as an excavation and appropriation of police surveillance footage filmed during a 1960s sting operation to arrest gay men during the summer of 1962 in Mansfield, Ohio. The police filmed men having sex in a public restroom. A cameraman hid in a closet and watched the clandestine activities through a two-way mirror. First, it’s just pissing and shitting, hand-washing and checking their hair in the mirror. But before long, the footage shows various men, mostly middle-aged or older, many “straight”, even married with children, black and white. The film is a perfect example of Foucault’s panopticon, in which behavior is enforced through the threat of surveillance. These films served as evidence of their desires, and led to over thirty convictions and prison.
Mining stills from these films, as well as my own photographs, this series of abstracted “portraits” juxtaposed with still life Vanitas; the symbolic representation of the futility of worldly pleasures evolved into an elaborate body of monoprints and limited edition prints that employ layering, obfuscation, and contrasting juxtapositions.
1. Jones, William E. Tearoom, 2nd Cannons Publications, 2008.
2. Sicinski, Michael. Tearoom, Academic Hack, 2007.