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Queer perspectives in the digital era: FISHERSPOONER: SIR

I, like many people, enjoy strangers, and even more so strangers that show their bodies without a tacit and hostile demand for me to show my own. Call me a voyeur, but the only thing more enticing than sex, is the mere hint of the sex itself. The truth, whether we admit it or not, is that the body, naked or dressed, male or female, has become, since the turn of the century, the main focus of the image. This visual trading tool, that has existed ever since the Paleolithic age, has successfully made its way into the new world of the digital. Its old role – that of pursuing the truth – has long gone, discarded for the endless possibilities portrayed by an internet-driven fiction. This new function of the image works in many ways, but nowadays is mainly used for escaping or acquiring a new, over-the-top identity.

The walls on which my eyes wander, inside a pitch-black room of Mumok, are covered top-to-bottom in photos. From all the faces of the people in this extensive photo series, the artist’s face is the only familiar thing I can seem to hang on to. The photos, as the artist mentions portray his social world. Casey Spooner’s world, as the centerpiece of the exhibition FISHERSPOONER: SIR, functions in the already-familiar-to-us augmented reality of new media. The photos, taken by the photographer Yuki James, reveal an alluring space, which is actually Spooner’s former apartment, where different intimate activities take place. Men, classy, fetish-dressed or naked and three other anonymous females all inhabit the same gleaming cosmos. Sectioning the room of the exhibition, a film which features a part of a yet to be released music video which was co-directed by Warren Fischer – the other half of the Fischerspooner project – shows in slow-motion the intimate and carnal enactments of Casey Spooner and another anonymous man.

As the conceptual project about art and entertainment that this show is, FISHERSPOONER:SIR is a current extension of the electroclash and performance band which Casey Spooner and Warren Fisher formed back in 1998. Inviting us into this contemporary cocktail of queer sex and love culture, mixed with the pop(up) media culture, their new upcoming album, entitled Sir, was closely produced by Michael Stipe, the lead vocalist from R.E.M. Both the album, and the installation tackle the multiple boundaries and relationships which are transgressed or cemented in our present online social culture. Overall committed to a holistic approach the show FISHERSPOONER: SIR further explores all these intermediary spaces which take place in-between visual media as theater, art and music. Being both a performer and a visual artist, Casey Spooner is devoted to a character-identity that is so multifaceted like the viewer itself. In-between the private and the social, Spooner works from the inside out, addressing this new narcissistic self that uses the private space as the platform for self-promotion. This identity in which the new self performs is neither fake nor real, it is completely genuine in matter of performance, because as an art performance, this identity comes and goes. It always involves an exacerbated side of the one who performs and is always done for an audience.

Of course, this new chapter of the shared image is not all that buoyant. On the gloomy side of social media where all people participate, it is hard to stay unbothered. It conjures up stingy comments, removed photos and many more banned activities which contemporary artists are trying to display. And in the end, while exploring Yuki James’ life and artwork on instagram, as I find the real names behind the strangers who appear in the photo series, I cannot help but wonder what strangers are in today’s society? And what are we really wishing for when we uncover ourselves to strangers. In a way, as Casey Spooner highlights in one of his interviews, living in this current era, both online and offline, is just a matter of letting go.

Museumsplatz 1
A-1070 Wien
Until 29 October

Image courtesy of mumok and FISCHERSPOONER: SIR.