June 22nd to July 15th, 2018
FACTION Art Projects & Gallery 8: 2602 Frederick Douglass Blvd, NYC
New York City collective FACTION Art Projects is gearing up to unveil its new exhibition, “Others,” a timely exploration of non-traditional masculinities featuring the work of artists Mark Dutcher, Aaron Smith and Andrew Mania, who recently made headlines for painting a portrait of Timothée Chalamet on the shirt that “Call Me By Your Name” screenwriter James Ivory wore to the Oscars . FACTION’s founders (also the curators of the show) include Richard Scarry, Chippy Coates and Celine Gauld, the minds behind London’s hugely successful Gallery 8 and Coates & Scarry. “Others” is set to open at Gallery 8’s New York City location in Harlem, and we predict the show will be a hit—considering the recent firestorm of conversation surrounding gender and sexual misconduct, its subject matter couldn’t be more relevant. We spoke to FACTION’s Scarry, Coates and Gauld about their curatorial process, how the exhibition fits into the #MeToo movement and how they hope gender norms will evolve.
Untitled: What initially inspired you to curate “Others?”
Scarry, Coates & Gauld: FACTION Art Projects was conceived as a vehicle for promoting and encouraging conversation about multiple diversities. We explored identity with our inaugural exhibition, [“All That You Have is Your Soul“], looking at immigration and diasporic displacement through the lens of Cuban artisits working outside of their homeland. With “Harlem Perspectives,” our second show, we embraced the diverse history, cultures and talents on our doorstep in Upper Manhattan.
How do you think this exhibition fits into the current cultural dialogue regarding toxic masculinity and the #MeToo movement?
Great question. Though this isn’t what we specifically had in mind when we conceived of “Others,” this broader context is hugely important. If #MeToo is an international movement of women’s voices against sexual harassment and assault, it is a movement that draws attention to the forms of toxic or dominant masculinity that license those forms of assault and harassment in society. Likewise, “Others” is an exhibition that draws attention to less dominant, less accepted and frequently, more hidden forms of masculinity. It aims to pluralize society’s understandings of what masculinity is and what it can be. Much like the #MeToo movement, “Others” pushes against the dominance of predatory and misogynistic masculinities. In bringing these other masculinities into representation, “Others” also aims to provide a space for men, as well as women, to explore and comprehend the broad aesthetic registers through which masculinity is lived, experienced and negotiated.
The New York Times recently published an article declaring today the “Age of the Twink.” What are your thoughts on that?
Another great question, and again, one we hadn’t thought about specifically when we conceived of this exhibition! It’s an interesting proposition, because “the twink” certainly gives voice to forms of masculinity that provide alternatives to the dominant forms we see asserting their presence so abundantly in society. So yes, we could think about embracing the twink and the alternatively gendered and sexualised forms of masculinity it offers. At the same time, however, “Others” tries to do something more by presenting work that pushes even further at the limits of describable forms of masculinity—the twink is, after all, another identity category. “Others” invites viewers to go further into identity positions that we might not yet have the language for and more importantly, to accept those very dynamic and fluid identity positions. There are always others, those who buck the norm in wonderfully creative, expressive and individualistic ways, whether in terms of masculinity, sexuality, race, or any other marker of identity. “Others” is an exhibition that celebrates artists who have the daring, imagination and capacity to bring this wonderful excess into representation. We hope to invite you into an expressive domain beyond the twink!
What drew you to Mark Dutcher, Aaron Smith and Andrew Mania’s works in particular?
We have worked with or known each of the artists for many years and had been looking for the opportunity to exhibit their work in some capacity. FACTION and the Harlem base at Gallery 8 has provided the perfect platform and timing to bring these three very different artists together. We always seek to provide visual harmony and balance in our exhibitions, as well as a coherent curatorial message. When we started selecting the works for the show, we identified unexpected visual links between the three artists’ works.
What influenced you to curate “Others” on such a small scale with only three artists?
Having just presented two large group exhibitions, we were ready to turn our attention to a more intimate visual experience, deepening our understanding of each individual’s process and unique perspective on a particular masculine identity.
How do you think society’s current expectations of masculinity have influenced your creative process?
We hope the exhibition confounds current expectations of masculinity in all the ways we have suggested above. But in other very important ways, we think that each of the artists brings something deeply human and deeply relatable to the exhibition. In whatever domain or register of identity we want to talk about, “others” are human. We see this is a deeply humanist exhibition. It is about a human condition.
Fast forward ten years. How do you hope the notion of masculinity will fit into society and culture in the future?
In an ideal world, we will live in a society where masculinities of all shapes, forms, sizes, colors and sexualities will be accepted equally. We will not be talking about dominant and “other” masculinities—an exhibition like ours will be but a quirky footnote in the history of a society that is far more egalitarian. We realize, however, that none of us live in an ideal world, which makes the work of Dutcher, Smith and Mania ever more prescient. We hope you will come and find out exactly why.