- Tom- Tom
I’m gratified to read the first wave of press on my book FIRE ISLAND PINES | Polaroids 1975-1983. In particular, the depiction of affection between men has been one of the first qualities picked up on by writers reviewing the work. When I shot the pictures for that book, the entwining of men’s limbs in affectionate contact was radical. This was not something artists showed the world back then. Usually, if men’s naked bodies were in contact, it was in extremis. They were either in battle – or piled up after battle – dead. Classical art is rife with such images.
Seeing an alternative reality, I set about to change that. In some of my black and white 35mm work beginning in the late 1980s in Los Angeles, I played with the themes of muscular torsos in frieze like formations. I gathered my friends and picked a stage for them to interact. My simple instruction – “go over there and hang out.” Being free spirited sorts, they did what came naturally. While the pictures seem posed – they were not. I did, however, find some compositions that had a classic quality by watching their play.
When I moved to San Francisco – far from the pools of my prior life – the couch in our living room became the stage and my direction was the same. I loved the intertwined bodies and simply asked my friends to enjoy the pile. Instructions that give the subjects pleasure are the most appreciated kind.
It all started with the Polaroids – the subject has remained a constant in my work. And why not? This is a subject that reaffirms affection and connection to the cosmos through one another. This Polaroid is not in the book only for the reason that we ran out of pages – not because it isn’t a perfect expression of the point I make here.