Artist Jason C Woodson will be presenting his art work at GFEST – Gaywise FESTival 2010 Visual Arts Exhibition @ Hampstead Town Hall / InterChange Studios, The Atrium, Hampstead Town Hall, 213 Haverstock Hill, London NW3 4QP. (Entrance from footpath on Haverstock Hill) / Tel: 020 7692 5800 / Wise Thoughts: 0208 8899555 / Mon 8 to Friday 19 Nov (Sat, Sun closed) 10.30AM to 5.30PM / Entry Free
Jason C Woodson:
At the moment, I am working on a series of prints that I am calling Le Freak, C’est Chic, which is my playful attempt to turn the objectification of black sexuality on its head. The series is based on iconic yet fetishized images from the careers of Josephine Baker and Grace Jones but is shot with a male model.
My work is largely about amplification. I like to work around an issue that is important to me or something that I feel needs to be said and explore that by turning up the volume on the subject. As such most of my work tends to be on a large scale, whether that be a physically large piece, like my Christos Obscuros or a lengthy series of work, like my Gross Indecency project. I like the way the process can make you question your traditional or received perspective and to see things anew. When I am working on a piece, I don’t want to provide all of the answers, I will provide clues to how I feel, but I think that a work of art is only complete when its audience interacts with it.
The majority of my work deals with the exploration of male sexuality. Being both black and gay these are unavoidable influences in my work. However I do not strive to deliver work ‘on message’ and am often more interested in the thoughts left lying in the gutter, after the march has passed by. I think it is as important for us to get our own house in order, as it is for us fight for equality. Gross Indecency addresses the notion of the metrosexual and its basis on the supposedly plucked, pumped and preened homosexual, a stereotype that we have invented.
I think it’s amazing how far the gay movement has come in the last 40 or so years. We have so many rights that some years ago we would never have thought possible. But we are still condemned to live within a number of restrictive, largely self-defined stereotypes. Festivals like GFEST – Gaywise FESTival are essential in helping to put across broader, richer, more personal gay experiences. We need to shake things up and I want to help do that.
While I identify as a gay man, I would not call myself a gay artist. My work as I mentioned earlier is largely about male sexuality, because this is an area that is relevant to my life and my experience. At times my work does deal directly with gay issues, such as my piece in the GFEST exhibition, This Kid (20 Years On), however I don’t feel that there needs to be a distinction between what is art and what is gay art. Pope Julius II and the Catholic tradition, largely influenced Michelangelo’s body of work, however we do not say that he was a Catholic artist. We do not frame discussions about Picasso or Monet or Matisse or any other straight male artist in terms of their sexuality, we only apply this rule to minority artists. Art is about sharing your experiences, your idiosyncratic view of the world with others in an attempt to engage. It is a distillation of everything that the artist has gone through in their life, so I think that to narrow the focus to just what they did with their dick is to diminish what they achieved with their hands, their hearts and their minds.
My father told me when I was little that artists starve to death, which of course I resented but I knew that this was going to be an issue I would wrestle with for the rest of my life even then. When you burn with that fever to express yourself, you don’t have a choice; you just have to act on it. So I have always had a day job, but the thing that I return to over and over again is the art. Presently, I run a gay gym and sauna with my partner, which in addition to providing me with a regular pay cheque, also helps to fuel my artistic life.
Currently, I use various social networking sites like Tumblr and Facebook to publicize and promote my work. I also take part in group exhibitions and submit work to magazines, such as Pink Mince in the UK and Spank! in the US. Although, I have been fortunate enough to find various means to get my work out there, it is very difficult to find appropriate avenues for work that can be considered controversial or challenging.
Recently, I have been receiving feedback from various people commenting on how they appreciated that I had expressed something that they too felt strongly about. I don’t think that I can ask for anything more than that from my body of work.
Basquiat was once asked in an interview if he saw himself as an artist or a black artist and his response was ‘No, I don’t just use black, I use all of the colours in the rainbow. Just as I look forward to a time in which “Where you stick your dick” ceases to be the primary definition of a man, I also hope that the gay art ghetto becomes a thing of the past. Experience is what gives art life and if we accept the limits placed upon us, in effect decide to paint with just one colour, we are failing not only ourselves but society in general.
I think it would be great if just for one day, everyone was forced to see the world as it truly is, no masks, no stereotypes, just the raw naked truth. How would we all cope with what we saw? Would the Catholic Church be able to continue on as it has for two centuries if it had to face its own truth unflinchingly? What changes would we make about ourselves without the benefits of our own self-deceptions? Would our obsession with victimhood be able to stand up against the true injustices of the world?
Thank you Jason and best wishes from GFEST.
Now in its fourth year, GFEST is supported by the Mayor of London, dignitaries, Ministers and MPs from all the leading parties, various London boroughs and Arts Council England.
GFEST 2010 images on http://www.flickr.com/photos/GFEST
GFEST 2010 Visual Art : http://www.flickr.com/photos/gfest/sets/72157624870998137/
LONDON: GAY ART FESTIVAL : GFEST 2010 showreel on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwJ9UWJX1fg
More info on GFEST – Gaywise FESTival (GFEST in short) web: http://www.gaywisefestival.org.ukGFEST Artistic Director: Niranjan Kamatkar
WISE THOUGHTS is an arts charity that organises GFEST – Gaywise FESTival in venues across London. GFEST web networks: http://www.wisethoughts.org http://www.gaywisefestival.org.uk http://www.facebook.com/niranjan.kamatkar http://www.gaywisefestival.blogspot.com/ http://twitter.com/gfest https://gaywisefestival.wordpress.com/ http://www.yoursemotionally.com/ http://www.myspace.com/interviewwithapolitician http://www.flickr.com/photos/gfest/ http://www.youtube.com/user/wisethoughts http://uk.linkedin.com/in/niranjankamatkar http://www.myspace.com/gaywisefestival