The Loving Cup
HEY KEN!! HERE IS MY REVIEW!!! IT WAS GREAT AND I HAD A ENJOYABLE TIME!! EVERYTHING WAS COOL EXCEPT FOR THE MALE TO MALE STUFF THAT WE DID LIKE DANCING BUT IT'S COOL!!! I HAD A GOOD TIME AND IT WAS GREAT WAY TO DO SOME HARD WORK FOR A FEW HOURS AND MAKE SOME MONEY ON THE SIDE!!! YOU HELPED ME OUT A GREAT DEAL WITH THE DIET COKES BECAUSE THAT KEPT ME UP(LOL) AND EVERYTHING WORKED OUT WELL!! I WOULD LOOK FORWARD TO DOING MORE SHOOTS FOR YOU IF YOU NEED ME TO!!!! HAVE A GREAT NIGHT!!!!
“The Loving Cup” is an exhibition of new work by Kenneth Tam that continues to reimagine the social space between men in groups. Tam explores intimacy between strangers through physical contact and uses psychological interaction as a method to propose ruptures within codes of conduct.
Men perform or express intimacy in a highly self-policed system of socialized behaviors, trapping the male body in a complex set of negotiations that must meet social expectations with only the slightest margins for deviation. Tam creates situations that question the scripts that are set for male performance and places the male body amidst backdrops of absurdity that render such scripts arbitrary, ineffective and work to ultimately show their repressiveness.
Three single-channel videos exhibited are an attempt to create an alternative space for male bonding through various physical activities. Working with three participants Tam solicited through internet postings, each video documents a different set of activities that use play or movement as a way to negotiate the space between men. Play is used to re-write the script that guides the permissible behavior of men in groups. The men are asked to blow balloons, crawl under each other, and choreograph an improvised dance routine. Bodies are poked and tickled, inciting a peal of giggles. Moments of uncomfortable closeness are undercut by a tender slow dance.
The four photographs in the exhibition take their inspiration from the celebratory rituals of male athletes after a major victory. This type of vulnerability and intimacy complicates our understanding of the normative masculinity expressed in sports, as they allow these men the rare space for earnest feeling as they literally drench each other with their affection. In the photo series “Champagne (1-4),” Tam and another man perform this celebratory ritual, but in a way that resists the conventions of this kind of image. Set against a generic backdrop wearing plain clothes, the pair becomes conjoined in their embrace. While the images may look the same, the viewer is forced to spend time scrutinizing the subtle differences within the photographs, specifically the frozen ejaculate of champagne that seals the men’s affection.
Kenneth Tam (b. 1982 in Queens, NY; lives and works in Los Angeles and Houston) is an artist working in a variety of media with a focus on video. He received his BFA from the Cooper Union and MFA from the University of Southern California. His work has been included in group exhibitions in Los Angeles at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Honor Fraser, The Box, 5 Car Garage, and Weingart Gallery at Occidental College, and held a solo exhibition at Night Gallery in 2013. Tam is a recipient of an Art Matters grant and was awarded a fellowship from the California Community Foundation in 2015. He is currently an Artist in Residence at Core Program in Houston. His video “Breakfast in Bed” is currently on view in “Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only” at the Hammer Museum untilAugust 28th.
This exhibition has been made possible through an Emergency Grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.