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Bruce Eves
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Deeply rooted in the culture of homosexuality, Bruce Eves has created a significant number of photographic masterpieces that challenge the narrowly defined and increasingly regimented “life style” of the 20th century. His works often depicts images of male body/bodies and sometimes juxtapose them with other images to get his arguments or ideas across. For instance, the work “1001 Arabian Nights (Updated)” presents a image that references to the scandal caused by Sir Richard Burton’s first complete translation of “1001 Arabian Nights” in the late Victorian Age: a scandal that was provoked by a text that was considered to be outrageously pornographic and unspeakably vile because of its paean to male/male love. However, the point of the piece is to challenge the stereotypes emanating from what is in essence an all-male society. While the Western media is obsessive in dwelling on murderous middle-east religious fundamentalism, the replacement of the copies of the Koran with gay porn alludes to the underground knowledge that the “Orientalist” fad in Europe during the 1880s and onward had a distinct sexual allure (Source link:). Evidently, Eves’ art experiments are provocative and comprehensive with historical evidences. Some people may find Bruce Eves’ work disturbing, shocking, or even offensive, yet others who understand his art would find his work critical, inspirational, or exhilarating. Eves’ intention is never to shock the viewers or expect his work to be experienced passively. His true motivation is to fight against those who constrain cultural evolution and enforce their perceptions as the righteous social dogma. Moreover, “Geschlechtsübergänge”, “Self-Portrait with Bayonets”, and “The Two Demonstrations” are some of Bruce Eves’ outstanding works that examine the integrity of our modernized society and reflect Bruce’s attitude toward the ongoing conflicts between those who support and those who oppose to homosexuality.

The history of homosexuality is a big part of Eves’ work, and Eves has often used photographs that were taken in the past to enhance the significance of his works. For instance, by including the photo taken by Magnus Hirshfeld, a pioneer well-known gay activist and the founder of the prestigious Institute of Sexual Science, the work “Geschlechtsübergänge” has clearly illustrated the suppression of gay men and lesbians since the early 1900s. As shown in the photo, an effeminate man awaits for his examination in the laboratory has indicated how homosexuals were being tormented, discriminated, and testified as a living specimen. This is astonishing to the audience not because this piece is a 20th century avant-garde artwork, but because it reflects the horrifying history and secrets that were hidden from the surface of our society and makes people question the principles of humanity. Bruce Eves also juxtaposes Magnus Hirshfeld’s photo with a naked modern-day muscle man lifted from the Internet to indicate the evolution of self-perception from the past to the present. During my interview with Eves, he raised a critical point that has enhanced my understanding about his works, he stated that, “comforting as it is to think of gay history as a series of ever expanding victories against intolerance, we are in danger of falling into a smug delusion. We confuse tolerance with equality, and despite the occasional setback, have come to believe that every advance is permanent.” A work like “Geschlechtsübergänge” may appear to be disturbing at first, but the message that is behind it is definitely important.

“The Two Demonstrations” on the other hand, sets a different type of public display. An image of a political protest held by gun-toting women from the Middle East is being compare with an all-male orgy captured on film. The meaning of this piece is ambiguous because there is no direct correlation between the two images. However, what is significant about this piece of artwork is that it automatically divides the audience into two groups. One group would accept the image passively, while the other would respond to the work as terrorized object of assault. These opposite responses from the audience are exactly what Eves has expected. In Bruce Eves’ artist statement he stated that “…this closed universe reveals itself to be a carefully articulated series of opposites (male/female, nudity/concealment, Western/non-Western, free-flowing private sexual expression/regimented violent public protest, and (one assumes) the self-segregated universe of homosexuals versus heterosexuals.” I believe that it is Eves’ intention to create controversy in order to demonstrate the barriers between people and how difficult it is for people to understand and compromise with each other.

Finally, the work “Self-Protrait with Bayonets” is another piece of artwork that reveals Eves’ desire to counter authoritarian suppression of homosexual pious. The image presents a naked man showing his buttock, fingering his anus, and taunting some unseen authoritarian force. The relationships between the naked man and the unseen authoritarian can be understood as of political tensions between homosexual and heterosexual in the real world. According to Eves, this piece of artwork is mockingly aggressive, yet its meaning remains open-ended and ambiguous. Although “Self-Portrait with Bayonets” is equally provocative as the two works that we have mentioned earlier, this work implies a greater level of resistance from the protagonist. For instance, the gesture of the naked man symbolically represents that he is determined to assert control over his own identity regardless of any threat that is endangering him. This idea reflects the challenges that every gay man has to confront and that is to struggle for an independent identity.

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Site: http://www3.sympatico.ca/evesham/