Thoughts I’ve taken away from an interview I found on this Felix Gonzalez Torres website, between Torres and Robert Storr.
Art and politics are inseparable. There are those works that appear more political and so you list them off as being political artists, but all art is making some comment or interaction with society. Therefore on some level art is political.
From reading this interview it appears that Torres is a gay activist, but not as obvious and blatant about it. He doesn’t flaunt work that is obviously referencing gay men. He talks about being a spy, about disguising yourself in a mask in order to get at the center of a group, and once you’re in this position you can really effectively create change and make your impact. Because “The enemy is too easy to dismiss and to attack”, which is a perfect quote taken from this interview that sums up what he is attempting with his work, and the enemy in this case being the artist making work referencing homosexual desires. By not making something obviously offensive, the viewer is going to find it hard to attack it and be critical of the work. He describes his work as being more inclusive, so that everything ends up have a “sexual mission, the walls, the pavement, everything.”
He talks about when Senator Stevens comes to the opening of one of his exhibitions. Calling the senator one of the “most homophobic anti-art senators”, and that he came to the show looking for offensive images of phallic symbols of penises and asses. Looking for very limited ideas about objects of desirability for gay men, but was encountered with ordinary objects that don’t have these associations with homosexuality. It would be very difficult to explain how two clocks on a wall side by side is pornographic and homoerotic.
And whilst these works weren’t overtly homoerotic they infiltrated the mind of the viewer, and every time they look at a clock or pair of curtains from now on they are going to be confronted with these connotations of homosexuality.
In my proposal I talk about wanting my work to speak to people outside of the gay community, not wanting the message to be restricted to this relatively small demographic. What I also realise is that other gay people are already included in these issues, it is already happening to them and so it would seem pointless to create work that facilitates them. I want my work to make people outside the community feel as if these cases of inequality relate to them, to make it their problem as well as ours. After all it is fellow human beings that are being attacked by these prejudices, not just that separate social demographic that has nothing to with us.
In order to do this I have to be careful in choosing the subject matter in my work, making sure not to choose ones that only relate to homosexuality. So far I have shown keys in my work, as keys are free of associations with a sexual orientation, they are as Torres puts it ‘inclusive’.