Daniel Brun, Thomas Mohr, and Eduardo Padilha at Montevideo/TBA, Amsterdam (1998)

R. J. Preece
artdesigncafé - art | 3 January 2011
This article was previously published in World Sculpture News, 4(3), September 1998, pp. 50-1.

Video installations by Daniel Brun, Thomas Mohr, and Eduardo Padilha provided the focus at Montevideo/TBA’s three gallery spaces in an exhibition that addressed gay-specific and gay-secondary content.

Daniel Brun, who died in 1994 age 50, was one of the first generation of artists to experiment with video in the 1970s. The selection of his works from the late 1970s to the early 1990s showed the diverse approaches and concerns of the artist that have often addressed issues of identity and transvestitism. In his video installation Bleechin (1980), spliced clips that focus on the act of bleaching blue jeans and the process of bleach creating holes are eroticized by the metaphor for jeans stained by semen. [Surprisingly], the work began with a sound clip from the theme of the movie Rocky. In Le Rose et Le Noir (1987), Brun concentrates on the fluttering folds of a dress worn by a singing performer and ends with her facial shot. Raising her wig, we are presented with an image for review that raises questions of appearance, gender classification, and occasional ambiguities.

Thomas Mohr, born in Mainz, Germany, in 1954 and now resident in Amsterdam, presented photographs and video material with an emphasis upon travel. In one room, Bits of perception and dedicated to Jurrien (1998) consisted of [several small] photographs of landscapes, anonymous people, and city views, taken over a six-month period. Two fast-forward projected videos, and six videos on monitors documented the visual bombardment of movement and travel. Visually, the two appeared as one, and the effect was a combination of recognizing diversity and commonality with the artist’s experimental movement weaving through time and cultural fabric, its interaction with remembrance, and its juxtaposition of frozen images against video documentation presented at different speeds.

Eduardo Padilha, born in Brazil, in 1964, and now living in London, joined photography, video, and mattresses in his installation Mattresses staunch/Clinking spirits condemned to a tropical garden (1998), which featured four of his former mattresses embroidered with texts. At times recalling newspaper headlines, lines such as “Abstinence conundrum” and “Stranger rests in a strange land” drew associations between identified and intimate personal space, as well as media-generated and media-form borrowed for “personal” expression.

This show, along with other shows surrounding the Gay Games, sought to deal with the question of “Is there such a thing as Gay Art, and if so, what is it really?”: the relationship between sexual orientation and art through subjects and content, and the artist’s identity independent of sexual orientation. The work in this show successfully demonstrated the “gay thread” without so much the trappings of “Gay Art”.