Nearly twenty years ago, Dean Sameshima began photographing historically active gay cruising grounds in and around Los Angeles—hidden corners of Griffith Park, scratchy erotic drawings on the stalls of public restrooms, and exteriors of recently closed bathhouses and leather bars. From this early series, entitled Wonderland (1996/97), Sameshima laid out the core concerns of his artistic practice: the politics of identification under regimes of corporeal rigor, and the tension between surveillance and concealment, especially in regards to sex in public.
Dean Sameshima: Public Sex gathers together emblematic works from across the artist’s career to consider his particular brand of photo-conceptualism, and its intrinsic relationship to the radical erotic possibilities that archives can offer. By mining historical ephemera from queer sexual cultures, Sameshima’s work poses an alternative to a particularly pernicious brand of assimilative gay politics that poses suggests all LGBTQ people aspire to normalcy. Filled with loss, ecstasy, and humor, his photographs and silkscreened paintings invest in a cosmology of queer (anti-)heroes whose trajectories are anything but normal: Texas-born hustler/novelist John Rechy, punk musician Darby Crash, artist Felix Gonzalez- Torres, and novelist-filmmaker Jean Genet, amongst many, many others.
Sameshima moved from Los Angeles to Berlin a decade ago, and in 2011 he began to support his artistic practice, in part, by selling editions, artist’s proofs, dip-dyed t-shirts, and small paintings through his Etsy store, CruiseOrBeCruised. Engaging with the labor and business of artistic production—Sameshima is one of only a handful of Etsy users with gallery representation—CruiseOrBeCruised is presented in this exhibition as an extension of Sameshima’s conceptual practices, intertwined with his larger body of work.
Dean Sameshima: Public Sex is curated by Andy Campbell, a Critic-In-Residence with the Core Program.
Dean Sameshima: Public Sex is being presented by the Core Residency Program, Glassell School of Art, in partnership with Dan Fergus, Brasil Café, and She Works Flexible.