September 9 – October 15, 2011
For his second solo exhibition with Samsøn, Cuban American, Philadelphia-based multidisciplinary artist Gabriel Martinez addresses the complex intersections at the core of contemporary, gay male sexual identities. The exhibition, a diverse mix of new works, questions male power dynamics; subverting and making reference to a wide range of cultural products at the heart of socio, political and sexual discourses on masculinity. In Martinez’s hands, these elements, playful at first, belie deeper meanings about sexual desire among men, reclaiming and bringing what seems to exist at the margins' full center.
In the photograph Configuration (Triangle), a pyramid of male bodies in jock straps viewed from behind speaks directly to hierarchies of power in its direct reference to the pyramid as an organizational structure in Western thought. The pyramid, traditionally used to define a wide array of (male centered and rational power dynamics in multiple spheres of human interaction) specially top and bottom, is here used to question and blur the validity of viewing things so simply.
Martinez exerts a willful intent to include you in the fun he is having, but linger a bit, take in the individual pieces and revisit them in the context of the entire exhibition, and the semiotics of the objects and their meaning become clear. Martinez invites you to peel back the layers of language inherent in the eclectic, visual elements he is referencing. In so doing, Martinez forces the viewer to reconsider the contradictions at the heart of how male power and desire are constructed and consumed privately and publicly.
David Acosta, August 2011
David Acosta is a Philadelphia based poet and writer. He is the Artistic Director, for Casa de Duende (Philadelphia, PA). More info at: http://www.casadeduende.com
Gabriel Martinez (b. 1967, Miami, FL) received an M.F.A from Tyler School of Art (PA). His work was recently exhibited in Close at Hand: Philadelphia Artist's from the Permanent Collection at the Fabric Workshop & Museum (Philadelphia, PA). He has done performance work for Thread Waxing Space, Franklin Furnace, X-Initiative, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and White Columns (NY, NY). His work will be published in Art and Queer Culture, edited by Catherine Lord and Richard Meyer (Phaidon, 2012). He has an upcoming performance at the Waterloo Center for the Arts (IA).