Patrick Staff
The Foundation
19 February 2015 – 12 April 2015
Opening: Thursday 19 February

The Foundation is a major film installation by Patrick Staff premiering at Chisenhale Gallery and co-commissioned with Spike Island, Bristol; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; and Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver. In this new work Staff explores queer intergenerational relationships negotiated through historical materials. The film combines footage shot at the Tom of Finland Foundation in Los Angeles – home to the archive of the erotic artist and gay icon and a community of people that care for it – with choreographic sequences shot within a specially constructed set.

The legacy of Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen (1920-1991), better known as Tom of Finland, spans multiple generations; his work made a considerable impact on masculine representation and imagery in post-war gay culture. The foundation was established in 1984 by Tom and his friend Durk Dehner to preserve his vast catalogue of homoerotic art, whilst endeavouring to – to quote the organisation’s website – ‘educate the public to the cultural merits of erotic art and in promoting healthier, more tolerant attitudes about sexuality.’ Today, Durk runs the organisation and lives in the house, along with a handful of other employees and artists.

Rather than focusing on Tom of Finland’s work, Staff’s film evokes the foundation as a set of relations. He explores how a collection is formed and constituted; the communities that produce and are produced by a body of work; and ideas of intergenerational relationships and care. Through observational footage of the house, its collections and inhabitants, the foundation is revealed as a domestic environment, a libidinal space, archive, office and community centre; a private space which is also the home of a public-facing organisation and the source of a widely dispersed body of images.

Staff foregrounds his own identity and his personal dialogue with the different communities of the foundation to consider how ideas of intergenerational inheritance and exchange are complicated by gender identity and presentation; in this context, of a younger trans person within a context dominated by the overtly masculine, male identity of an older generation. The documentary footage of the foundation is intercut with a series of scenes, which are shot in a set incorporating aspects of the building’s architecture and technologies and operate within the register of experimental theatre. In these sequences, featuring his interactions with an older actor, Staff uses choreography and props to explore the body as a site for the construction and deconstruction of subjectivities.

Through a varied, interdisciplinary and often collaborative body of work comprising film, dance and performance, Staff considers ideas of discipline, dissent, labour and the queer body, frequently drawing on the historical narration of counter-culture, radical activity and alternative forms of community building. This new work is the product of several years’ research and dialogue with the Tom of Finland Foundation and is Staff’s most ambitious and large-scale project to date, bringing together languages of film and live performance with sculptural materiality to explore the body as a political, living archive. The Foundation explores the complexities of cultural artifacts and collective identities, via an examination of ownership, appropriation, responsibility and desire.

Following its premiere at Chisenhale Gallery there will be subsequent presentations of The Foundation at Spike Island, Bristol in July 2015, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane in late 2015 and Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver in early 2016.

To download an interview with Patrick Staff about his exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery, please click here.

To download the exhibition handout, please click here.

A limited edition artwork by Patrick Staff has been produced to accompany the exhibition. For more details and to visit our online shop, please click here.

Patrick Staff (born 1987, UK) lives and works in London and Los Angeles. Selected exhibitions, screenings and performances include; Scaffold see Scaffold, The Showroom, London; Art Turning Left, Tate Liverpool; L’Heure Des Sorcieres, Le Quartier, France (all 2014); Mental effort Before Action: 1-5A-5B, South London Gallery; A Factory As It Might Be (Bournville), International Project Space, Birmingham; Society is a Workshop, Banff Centre, Canada (all 2013); The Passive Edge of the Object, ICA, London; Chewing Gum for the Social Body, The Tanks, Tate Modern, London (both 2012). Staff took part in the LUX Associate Artists Programme in 2010/11 and was the inaugural White Building/Lux Collection Residency artist (2014).

 

The Foundation is co-commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery, London; Spike Island, Bristol; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; and Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver. Co-produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London and Spike Island, Bristol.

With thanks to the Tom of Finland Foundation.

The Foundation is supported by Arts Council England Grants for the Arts, The Elephant Trust and the Genesis Prize.

Patrick Staff's exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery is supported by Alastair Cookson and Haro & Bilge Cumbusyan.

Chisenhale Gallery's Exhibition Programme 2015-16 is supported by Nicoletta Fiorucci

Patrick Staff
Thursday 5 March

Thursday 5 March 2015
Patrick Staff in conversation with Catherine Wood, Curator, Contemporary Art & Performance, Tate.

Patrick Staff

C-type print on combination underlay
Image: 13.5 x 10.1 cm; underlay: 24 x 20 cm
Edition of 35 + 5AP

£240 (unframed)
Chisenhale Friends price: £216 (unframed)*

*Please note that the Chisenhale Friends’ price is only available to those who have supported the gallery via the Benefactors programme. For more information and details of how to join click here.

Please note that, as is the norm for limited edition works, prices will increase as an edition sells out.

To accompany his exhibition, The Foundation, at Chisenhale Gallery, Patrick Staff has produced a new limited edition artwork, It's Soaking (2015).

The Foundation is a film installation by Staff premiering at Chisenhale Gallery and co-commissioned with Spike Island, Bristol; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; and Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver. In this new work Staff explores queer intergenerational relationships negotiated through historical materials. The film combines footage shot at the Tom of Finland Foundation in Los Angeles – home to the archive of the erotic artist and gay icon and a community of people that care for it – with choreographic sequences shot within a specially constructed set.

It's Soaking is a C-type photograph – a production still taken by Staff – mounted on rubber-backed felt underlay. For the artist, these specific materials evoke the Tom of Finland Foundation as a physical, architectural environment with both domestic and archival functions, and its complex, shifting state as a political, communal and libidinal space. Staff has employed similar materials in the bespoke presentation of his work at Chisenhale Gallery, which references the theatrical set that he constructed for the film. The production still was taken during the final scene in which various props and materials become subsumed in a creeping cloud of foam. The title, It’s Soaking, plays on an ambiguity between noun and adjective to suggest a potential mutable state of the object and its affect.

Each edition is hand assembled and unique due to the nature of the combination underlay.

Patrick Staff (born 1987, UK) lives and works in London and Los Angeles. Selected exhibitions, screenings and performances include; Scaffold see Scaffold, The Showroom, London; Art Turning Left, Tate Liverpool; L’Heure Des Sorcieres, Le Quartier, France (all 2014); Mental effort Before Action: 1-5A-5B, South London Gallery; A Factory As It Might Be (Bournville), International Project Space, Birmingham; Society as a Workshop, Banff Centre, Canada (all 2013); Chewing Gum for the Social Body, The Tanks, Tate Modern, London (2012). Staff took part in the LUX Associate Artists Programme in 2010/11 and was the inaugural White Building/Lux Collection Residency artist (2014).

  • Patrick Staff limited edition print
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  • Chisenhale Gallery Friends and Patrons receive 10% discount on limited edition prints and publications priced up to the value of £3,500 For information about how to join the Friends and Patrons Programme please click here.

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Patrick Staff in conversation with Catherine Wood

Thursday 5 March, 7pm

Patrick Staff in conversation with Catherine Wood, Curator, Contemporary Art & Performance, Tate.

Uniform Smoke

Thursday 12 March, 7pm

Uniform Smoke: Patrick Staff presents an evening length installation, with film screenings and readings, to coincide with his exhibition, The Foundation. The event is inspired by the moving image archive of the Tom of Finland Foundation, where Staff spent time digitising material as a volunteer in 2014. It includes archive footage alongside a broader selection of queer encounters through film and video, with work by Bad Brad, Rhys Ernst, Mariah Garnett and Patrick Staff.

The Foundation: Coffee Morning

Thursday 19 March, 9 – 10.30am

A coffee morning and special viewing of the exhibition with cakes generously provided by the East End Women’s Institute.

Chisenhale Gallery’s online archive

Thursday 19 March, 7pm
A discussion marking the launch of Chisenhale Gallery’s online archive, 1986-1990, chaired by Royal College of Art Curating Contemporary Art student Sophie Oxenbridge, who has been digitising the archive. Speakers include Siobhan Davies, presenting RePlay, an evolving dance and choreographic digital archive; Laura McLean talking about her work as curator of the Contingent Movements Archive; and writer Naomi Pearce introducing the collaborative research project and book After Butler's Wharf: Essays on a Working Building.
All events are free to attend. To reserve a place please visit our Eventbrite page here.