(18 recommendation — contains scenes of real sexual activity.)
In 2007, the video artist William E Jones presented Tearoom. Originally filmed in 1962 by the Ohio police, Tearoom is surveillance footage, a blunt tool of oppression that documented men cruising in a public restroom. This footage was eventually used as evidence to prosecute the men of sodomy and public deviancy.
In exhuming this footage 40 years later, Jones revealed hidden dimensions through recontexualisation, offering up an open democratic space where age, class and racial boundaries break down, whilst remaining a poignant reminder of the anxiety and persecution these men were forced to endure.
Before Tearoom we will be screening a new commissioned film by filmmaker Sam Ashby Et in Arcadia Ego (6 mins). Sam has taken the recent discussion around the closure of queer safe spaces and focussed it on the closure of public toilets. By documenting many of London’s ‘cottages’ on Super8, Ashby presents them as a series of contemporary ruins evoking a lost language. In his film these structures become tombs where meaning is lost to time.
In addition to the two films, we are also showcasing Robert Yang’s cruising video game The Tearoom in the foyer of the ICA before and after the screening.
Also filmmaker Sam Ashby has produced a booklet of 'Cottage Notes' from an archive of fragmentary notes used by men during cottaging. The limited edition publication will be given out free at the event to all ticket holders.
We welcome filmmaker Sam Ashby, indie game developer Robert Yang and artist Prem Sahib for a post screening discussion of the themes highlighted in the work, led by Dr Fiona Anderson (University of Newcastle, CRUSEV).