Artist Paul Yore | Photo: Instagram @paul.yore
An art gallery in Wales removed a gay artist’s installation after the piece received criticisms of being homophobic. The artist, however, says the piece speaks against homophobia.
The Mostyn Gallery in Llandudno took down Taste the Feeling, a collage by Paul Yore, last week (16 July).
Police are now investigating the ordeal and artwork as a potential hate crime.
Yore’s art was chosen by the gallery’s curators out of more than 700 submission to be exhibted in the Mostyn Open 21. This program offers prizes up to £10,000 ($12,481).
What is the collage and what did people say?
Yore’s work features images of far-right figures and phrases like ‘God hates fags’. This type of phrase is frequently used by hate groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church. The piece, seen in the below Instagram post, is meant to lance such hateful ideology.
View this post on Instagram
Honoured to have my work included in the wonderful MOSTYN Open 21 exhibition, showing from 13th July 2019 @mostyngallery Selected Artists: David Birkin, Rudi J.L. Bogaerts, John Bourne, Alexandre Camarao, Javier Chozas, Martyn Cross, Eugenia Cuellar, Jessie Edwards-Thomas, Sarah Entwistle, Expanded Eye, Julia R. Gallego, David Garner, Thomas Goddard, Oona Grimes, Georgia Hayes, Nick Hornby, Sooim Jeong, Nancy Jones, Adam Knight, Piotr Krzymowski, James Lewis, Neil McNally, Irene Montemurro, Anna Perach, Jessica Quinn, Ariel Reichman, William Roberts, Samantha Rosenwald, Klara Sedlo, Corinna Spencer, Chris Thompson, Richard Wathen, Paul Yore, Madalina Zaharia Image: Taste The Feeling, 2017 Mixed media appliqued textile, comprising found materials, recycled fabrics, wool, beads, sequins, needlepoint, buttons, cotton thread 220cm x 217cm #textileart #quilting #contemporaryart #gaypride #abject #lowbrow #queer #mostynopen21 #MOSTYNOpen #mostyngallery #orielmostyn @anna_perach @javier.chozas @julia.r.gallego @jessieedwardsthomas @corinnaspencer @sarahentwistle_studio @r.j.l_bogaerts @william_j_roberts @_davidbirkin @martyncross @christhomp1991 @georgiaurquharthayes @jameslewissiwelsemaj @arielreichman @alexandre_camarao @sooim_jeong @piotrkrymowski @klarasedlo @mada_zah @adamrknight @nickhornbyartist @samanth_jr @richardwathenstudio @thomas_goddard @paul.yore
According to Yore, who originally hails from Australia, a member of the ‘local LGBTI community’ made the initial complaint. Other complaints followed that the piece spewed homophobic sentiments. These complaints were directed both to the gallery and police.
‘When I was first informed of the complaint, I suggested the gallery further contextualize the work (to accompany the gallery brochure) with a didactic panel on the wall explaining the intention and conceptual underpinnings of the work,’ Yore told Gay Star News. ‘I am not sure if they ever actioned this.’
Regardless of whether or not they did, the ultimate decision was removing the collage entirely.
Yore said he was ‘shocked and dismayed that the work could be so completely misunderstood’.
‘The accusation that the work somehow constituted a hate crime directed at the queer community to which I belong is upsetting,’ he continued. ‘However it is important to remember that there is a great diversity of viewpoints within the queer community.’
What was more hurtful, Yore explained to GSN, was the gallery’s censorship of his work.
‘I believe that the relevance of arts institutions today pivots around their capacity to frame a diversity of viewpoints, and be agile enough to facilitate civilised discussion of challenging contemporary issues.’
What it really means
Yore explained the true meaning of the piece to GSN.
‘The original text I wrote to accompany the work was:
Taste The Feeling is appliquéd from fragments of reclaimed fabric. Drawing on the theatrics of Baroque style, the work defiantly asserts a radical queer subjectivity, using campy craft traditions as a semantic device. Yore’s nightmarish but playful work reflects a debased socio-political context within which spectacle has replaced meaningful dialogue.’
Yore added he stands by this statement, even now.
‘Ironically, I feel that the reaction to the work (in a cynical way) almost vindicates my central premise about the collapse of meaning in dead-end “post-truth” consumer capitalist culture,’ he explained. ‘The work borrows indiscriminately from mass culture; the title is a stolen Coca-Cola tagline, and the central figurative element is borrow from classical Christian art: a Baptism scene or a martyrdom. The work also shows cartoon characters, Australian politicians, meaningless slogans, and a multiplicity of other found images.
‘The most contentious elements seemed to be slogans I reclaimed from the infamous American homophobic Westboro Baptist Church. All these elements: right-wing populism, meaningless pop-culture and Christian homophobia in my art, directly reflect my own experiences of reality. I grew up queer in a staunchly Catholic household, and my work is my therapy for dealing with a society in which homosexuality is still viewed as aberrant.’
Police investigating the gallery and artwork
Police never reached out to Yore. He said his understanding of the investigation is that authorities are speaking to the gallery for ‘breaching public order’ by displaying the artwork.
Yore said police reportedly told the gallery that his piece could be seized as evidence of a hate crime if they continued to display it.
GSN also reached out to Mostyn for comment.
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