It’s an odd match but I’m feeling deep connection to the work and person of Nayland Blake. He’s been popping into my vision on many occasions last year and he’s finally entered full force and has hit me in a way very very few artists have. I’m currently experiencing some odd otherworldly existential crisis-like sentiments and I’m convinced it’s been instigated by him, especially after perusing his very personal, very approachable, very hugable blog.
My initiation to his work involved the face cake frosted make out session video between him and AA Bronson at Brooklyn Museum (I think), a solo at Matthew Marks, the same video at the Dientangle show at Andreas Grimm, and a sculpture at the recent White Columns group show. He curated a show at Monya Rowe asking people to write and print images of guys they’d like to fuck. A friend had him as a professor at the Bard ICP program and she emphasized his bear like qualities and general amazing-ness.
So with this sporadic introduction to the artist and not enough knowledge of his work imagine how flabbergasted and speechless I was upon walking into a gallery full of found objects, bunnies, broken dolls, and in front of a crowd of spectators, lo and behold, Nayland Blake, topless with long salt and peppered waves billowing past his shoulders, a belly as round as the moon, hands limp between legs starring straight out center, breathing in conscious intentional meditative breaths, waiting, chewing, swallowing, drinking whatever forced its way into his mouth.
The restaging of the 1998 performance “Gorge” was an amazing feit and although it comes from simple means and ideas, the act of masochistic violence with the help of viewer participation, it’s the resulting energy and involvement that creates this high octave tension between the feeding participant, the artist, and the spectators. I was absolutely amazed at how these feeders embraced this sadistic powered role against a vulnerable powerless artist and took creative, sexual, humorous twists in action.
For example, one gentleman proceeded to creep toward Blake starring intently into his eyes that did not reciprocate the gaze. He took a tangerine, got to his knees and nudged himself between Blake’s legs as best he could. As he was peeling this fruit he smiled admirably, as if he’s been waiting for this moment and have replayed this scene a billion times before the present. He was Blake’s biggest fan, fantasizing what sexual forays might ensue and how he might absorb every sweet last second of this secretly exhilarating performance. Once he began to sensually feed Blake and himself individual wedges of this forbidden orange, I can hear the gentleman breathing, heaving, sighing. It was incredible, he was getting worked up and out. The intensity of witnessing such a one sided exchange, where Blake is vulnerable but this man is also at Blake’s mercy, a feeding of the gods rather than a reversed power play. Once that tangerine was gone the gentleman slid his hands up Blake’s legs just once, got up, gave a final goodbye smile and departed into the audience. Amazing, huh?
There were more than one incidents where the audience member was gay, perhaps an old flame, or a new fan, and they took full advantage of this frolicking opportunity. One Harley riding bearish man in leather took a single bite off a strawberry, took Blake’s head and match their mouths to transfer what was contained. It was very brief and to the point.
I think I gasped a little to loudly for this one. A bodacious woman popped her boobs out, stuck a pickle between them and force fed Blake with the best seats for viewing. It was vulgar and grotesque, I was squeamish a bit, wondering what he was thinking “Oh god get these fucking tits outta my face!” And the torture of consuming what represented a phallic symbol, pickle as dick between balls/breasts must have been confusing and sour.
Dominic Vine feeds Blake donuts and chocolate milk making a mess confirming he was hungry and too clean. It was a funny moment and lightened a mood that was getting a bit too intense.
The pickle was used again later on by a young gentleman sticking their mouth on either end and proceeding until perhaps their lips met, perhaps not. Another stuck a carrot inside a donut hole, one imbedded his face into Blake’s belly and baby blabbered.
All this being said, Blake is an amazing artist and have crossed and nullified all sorts of lines and genres in art making. He’s used his identity as a mixed race homosexual S&M participant to undo rules and regulations governing art history and our everyday life and perspective of the objective. I am also duly grateful for his openness and approachability, especially through his blog that is so accessible, sensitive and delicate, it cooed and opened many stifled knots in my spiritual body. Intense.
Check out the show at Location One.
An interview about Blake by curator Maura Reilly.
Mark his blog into your favorites.
Interview with art fag city. A few quotes below.
The village voice on the show.
NB: Of course, they’re all sort of self-portraits, because in answering that question, you’re answering “What’s your type?” You’re right in saying that there’s a certain level of performance there, in what everybody does. To me, that kind of performance is much healthier than what I normally see in the art world.
I’m a pretty self-identified freak, and I don’t look to the society to make it nice for me. I’ve seen any number of groupings, and even in those groupings I end up getting moved to the periphery, in part because I tend to be about blurring the categories.