steam

STEAM depicts male same sex desire in a space that is both public and private: a gym sauna. It mimics the 30 minute, traditional post-workout steam cycle: poised to release tense and aching muscles. It records the traces of fleeting glances between men and the sweat left behind their physical exchanges, briefly before evaporating. The mist formed by boiling water serves as the temporary canvas to evoke the feeling of a dream or a memory. The vapours casually holds the projected drawings, which are placed in narrative sequence to produce the illusion of real, lifelike [e]motions. The steam appears in fleeting, timed bursts. A banal soundtrack accompanies these encounters. Ironic love ballads replete with sexual innuendo, alongside heavy breathing from the hot, physical temperature and occasional orgasm. The viewer is invited to either join in, or watch. This installation reframes male same sex desire with elements of drawing, sound and cinema. Instead of an unspoken taboo, male intimacy is reconsidered as a commonplace act. By placing the viewer awkwardly in this space, the work playfully de-stigmatizes desire between men. Likening what you see to be as normal as sweating, or as regular as exercise, reduces it to be mundane. It attempts to visualize the thoughts of a number of philosophers who have written extensively on sexuality, including: Roland Barthes, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Friedrich Nietzsche and John Paul Ricco. The installation’s lifelike size and immersive quality is borrowed from Simon Fujiwara’s Welcome to the Hotel Munber. Narrative tropes of male pornography exaggerate accepted sexual scripts for gay men (typically enacted by heterosexual men who need money on screen).