Monday 26 January 2015

"UNI.Formed": Fran Quesada Art Exhibition

[Image description: a detail of one of © Fran Quesada's images]

On 15th January my plus-one and I arrived half-an-hour later than the due time of eight o'clock at Kipfer & Lover at Calle San Juan de Letran, 21, just across from Málaga's main theatre, Teatro Cervantes.

[Image description: Kipfer & Lover logo, courtesy & © the aforesaid]

I was there for the launch of Fran Quesada's latest exhibition which is entitled:

Exposición Tematica "UNI.Formed" homoerotismo y Uniformidad

Roughly translated that is, "UNI.Formed": an Exhibition on a Theme of Homoeroticism & Uniformity.

[Image description: the poster for the event; courtesy Kipfer&Lover]

The fetishising of uniforms has been a constant of queer artists and communities for more than a century (at least): from the off-duty soldiers roaming London pubs and bars, who could be picked up and paid a sixpence for a quickie up some dark alleyway in the nineteenth century; the Nazis who originally contained many gay members till the infamous purge of 1934, and glorified in works such as those by Tom of Finland; to the police-officers who hunted and persecuted us in the fifties to the beginning of the more open nineties; and so on.

There is a love-hate relationship with all those in uniformed power. There is, or perhaps was, a taboo to developing affinities with those who bullied and maltreated us. And this perhaps added a frisson to sexual encounters with those in powerful positions.

Nowadays, of course, at least in the UK, all three of the armed forces are filled with non-heterosexual service personnel and even made the list of the past year's one hundred most gay-friendly employers. Additionally, many police services throughout England, Wales and Scotland have their own LGBTI associations. There is even a website, just to find dates with uniformed folk, whatever their sexuality.

Across the spectrum, folk themselves and/or their sexual partners enjoy dressing up in uniforms. It is seen as slightly kinky, but not especially perverted; rather simply some fun and games for the bedroom.

All of Fran's models are muscled, Caucasian (I include Arab North-Africans), chaps; a heterogeneous selection of homosexual fantasy. They are æsthetically good-looking, openly sexual and apparently available and/or narcissistic. The very uniformity of these men in uniform challenges the viewers' perception of mainstream queer culture. There was no handicapped soldier revealing suppurating wounds. There was no policeman bearing the scars of attacks from criminals. There was no black man, no Asian man, no man of any obvious ethnicity other than the hegemonic Caucasian West. Every man looked picture perfect. A fantasy in which to cocoon oneself and shelter from the vicissitudes of homophobia and gay-bashing and hiding in the closet.

I love the fact that I am challenged to see the narrowness and totalitarian nature of contemporary queer culture. The conformity to uniformity must be challenged. And Fran has done so in the most direct manner possible, by highlighting the homogeneity of what can be an asphyxiating ideal; forcing the vast majority of us to at least occasionally question our own looks, ignoring how very much more important character and personality are to a rewarding amour-propre.

So impressed with Fran's œuvre, I immediately snapped up one of his original pieces. Supporting artists to seek out new work and to make us question our world is a must for any who can afford to do so. Attending exhibitions a must for those who wish to grow and experience fresh perspectives on life. So, naturally, I heartily recommend Fran Quesada's exhibition, UNI.Formed. Go and see! %D

[Image description: group photo; from l. to r., the writer, my companion, the artist himself, the couturier Jesús Segado, Luis Segovia Toro & a friend]

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