(How to) Present Yourself as A Problem
The starting point of orientation is the point from which the world unfolds: the here of the body and the where of its dwelling.
At what point does Gasper’s world unfold? – The works titled HIDING (PROPOSAL FOR A BALCONY I-III), 2020, feature three nude black and white portraits of the artist that are partially covered by formal, deconstructed remnants deriving from his childhood home and birthplace: blue wooden structures, red balustrades and white floral ornaments, referring to the Slovenian national colors and folklore as well as the railings taken from the dysfunctional, unfinished balcony still adorning the house Gasper grew up in. He is hiding behind, or possibly more so trapped by these architectural and decorative elements; his posture conveying to the viewer his personal conflict and turmoil: the need to separate himself from narrow family norms and the repressive, homophobic and silencing patriarchal structures manifesting and stiffening themselves in Slovenia on the one hand, and the need for recognition, reconquest and re-appropriation of (Slovenian) tradition, history and culture on the other. Gasper presents to us, the viewers, not a homogeneous story of identity, but shows its fragmentation, inconsistency and constructedness. I’d say, Gasper’s world unfolds in the space between his nude body and the architectural pieces mounted on top of the portraits. It is a space of orientation and navigation: through images of (homo-social) representation, structures of patriarchal power relations, nationality and sexuality.
Some parts of Gasper's body are hidden, his posture reserved, but his body is present, resistant: it is a body that refuses to fit into heteronormative categorization and sexualization; a body that presents itself as a problem. Putting oneself back into the context of the restrictive, traditionalist environment of one’s upbringing as a „problematic figure,“ is a practice of resistance-in-place: a form of hopeful commitment to and sense of a place; a task in personal responsibility, that doesn’t glorify and romanticize national attributes, the notion of home („Heimat“) and country life, but rather represents an attempt to incorporate queer notions of community and belonging into the familial context. It is a search for a ‚home‘ that resembles an imaginative queer space, that shelters day-dreaming, and for an architecture that protects the dreamer, allows the dreamer to dream in peace. It’s a spatial practice, a route that is chosen based on memories and desires that lie outside of the mandated, orderly.
Gasper demonstrates through his artistic practice a practice of love and empathy, and thus proposes a love ethic that is necessary to let go of sexist-defined notions of male identity and sexuality. By deconstructing symbolic carriers of meaning (like the colors red, blue and white, the crown of thorns (MEIN ZUHAUSE (CROWN), 2020) or the balcony railings, directly tied to his personal upbringing), he initiates a quest towards practices of vulnerability and confidence, intimacy and consistency. His work deals with questions that presumably will remain unanswered for a while: is the concept of ‚home‘ always a utopian fantasy? Can patriarchal power relations, hierarchies between genders and toxic, violent notions of masculinity be abolished as long as the heteronormative nuclear family remains as the norm? A resistant situatedness, (queer) place-making practices and consistency in acts of care remain, for the time being, the soft weapons to which we adhere.
Kokkola, L.: Adolescents in Seac of the Queer Space of Home, 2014
creativecommons.org/licences/by-nc/3.0/" January 2021
Ahmed, S.: Orientations: Towards A Queer Phenomenology, Duke University, 2006
Bachelard, G.: Poetics of Space, Beacon Press, 1969