Working against the backdrop of a global art practice that is all too often a self-contained tautology, my body of work has from the earliest point in my career delved into the question of the "gay sensibility". As the former chief archivist with the International Gay History Archive – now part of the Rare Books and Manuscript division of the New York Public Library – I was impacted directly in my understanding of the broader context of our political, social, and cultural lives. This provided me with a wealth of raw data that fed directly into my art practice. But rather than take the standard trip down memory lane into the suck-and-fuck paradigm I began cherry-picking at will from mutually exclusive sources -- the morning headlines, the official record of 20th century art, the signs and signifiers of the gay male underground – which allowed me to explore the spaces between these charged relationships. As an amalgam of Aubrey Beardsley and Johnny Rotten, I've positioned myself as an ironic spectator.
It is old news that the male body continues to be a provocation, but oddly a critique of masculinity has gone largely unexplored. And herein lies the challenge. Influenced by the theoretical issues raised by performance and conceptual art, the proposition explored in much of my work is that it should be possible to be simultaneously hot and sweaty and critical and detached. It is desirable -- even exhilarating -- to question the givens of our cultural baggage while at the same time allowing ourselves to be wrapped in its brawny arms. If there is any theme that unites my disparate body of work it is that it concentrates on the representative gestures of maleness and explores the demilitarized zone lying between desire and despair.
Even though art is virtually indefinable, this much I know for certain: necks are meant for sticking out; envelopes are meant for pushing. Art is not suitable for family viewing nor must it be emotionally uplifting. Art must refuse to kowtow to the limitless demands for the familiar and the safe and the conventional. Art has nothing to do with social work or political stability or with the ending of negative stereotypes: these are the jobs for propagandists.