These Pleasures a Wayward Distraction (2020)


Lonely, Roelof Bakker, These Pleasures a Wayward Distraction, Espacio Gallery, Degrees of Freedom, Ahmed Farooqui, Reality and its Disorders, Joy Division, lockdown

Apprehensive, Roelof Bakker, These Pleasures a Wayward Distraction, Espacio Gallery, Degrees of Freedom, Ahmed Farooqui, Reality and its Disorders, Joy Division, lockdown

Blue, Roelof Bakker, These Pleasures a Wayward Distraction, Espacio Gallery, Degrees of Freedom, Ahmed Farooqui, Reality and its Disorders, Joy Division, lockdown

These Pleasures A Wayward Distraction, installatlon views, Espacio Gallery, London, September 2020


These Pleasures a Wayward Distraction
was devised during the early stages of the Covid-19 lockdown. The work addresses the impact of the lockdown on mental health through a portfolio of monoprints showing abstract shapes in cyan, magenta and yellow, alongside performance-based self-portraits inspired by Raffaele Monti’s 1860s sculpture ‘The Veiled Lady (The Bride)’. The title of the project refers to lyrics of the song ‘Isolation’ by Joy Division (1980).

Executed as photographic black and white monoprints on single sheets of toilet paper, each portrait includes a single word emphasising an emotional state like ‘Lonely’ or ‘Claustrophobic’’, words also evoking memories of an adolescence spent in the closet, afraid of a blossoming homosexuality, listening to Joy Division, Soft Cell and the Cocteau Twins.

Eight works are included in the group show Reality and its Disorders, an exhibition responding to the changed reality of life in the Covid-19 era curated by Ahmed Farooqui for the Degrees of Freedom artists’ group.

‘Lonely’ is reinterpreted as a monochrome Xerox poster, the original print enlarged by almost 1000%, the poster exposing the material qualities of toilet paper, while also emphasising the magnitude of loneliness in relation to the lockdown and from a queer perspective.

As Michael Hobbs writes in ‘Together Alone, the Epidemic of Gay Loneliness’, Huffington Post, 2 March 2017, ‘Whether we recognize it or not, our bodies bring the closet with us into adulthood’. Mental health issues caused by the stress of not being out during adolescence, such as loneliness, feeling isolated and insecurity, continue to haunt gay men throughout their adult lives.

Reality and its Disorders, 9-19 September, Espacio Gallery, London E2 7DG, included new work by thirty artists including Tom Hacket, Lizzie Brown, Christina Lovey, Feya Tewelde and La Liana. Bakker test-performed To Step Outside, a slow walking performance during which a brief text is recited, expressing a desire to break out and see the world, back to back with Dis-Quiet by Andrea Arnold.
Degrees of Freedom http://www.degreesof-freedom.com @dof.degrees.of.freedom

These Pleasures a Wayward Distraction
was originally posted on Instagram at the start of the lockdown, alongside a brief essay responding to excerpts of lyrics from ‘Isolation’ by Joy Division, also reproduced below. @roelof_bakker/

’Together Alone, the Epidemic of Gay Loneliness’ https://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/gay-loneliness/?fbclid=IwAR1BJVbodoJ2bsIk1g4bwxpIIUaTIKa72xggWJhraiIq8gZXnWK4HhVgdEA

 

‘Magenta’, mono print on toilet paper, 105mm x 125mm

 


These Pleasures a Wayward Distraction (*)
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Summer, early 1980s. During the school holiday I retreat into teenage gloom, self-isolating in my bedroom, writing songs and listening to Joy Division, hiding from the sun and from a blossoming sexuality, living ‘in fear every day, every evening’.
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In 2020, self-isolation and social-distancing are imposed belatedly by the Government to stop the coronavirus from spreading. Like a large part of the world we’ve ‘surrendered to self preservation’, retreating behind windows looking out at the sun, instead of being in it, glowing.
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In solitude, I play with colours and shapes, pictures and words. Anxious, insecure, apprehensive, paranoid, fragile, lonely, isolated and claustrophobic, are words that describe how I feel now, but also how I felt then.
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I must remain composed. And be defiant.
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Experimentation brings surprising discoveries, like the development of a mono-print process using toilet paper, for a while the most in-demand paper of the year.
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MAKING IS A DISTRACTION.
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‘I’m doing the best that I can.’
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PROCESS MAKES LIGHT OF THE DARK.
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‘If you could just see the beauty.’
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>>>>>>>>Text by Roelof Bakker, April 2020
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(*) Title and quoted texts from ‘Isolation’ from the album Closer by Joy Division (Factory Records, 1980). Written by Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, Ian Curtis. Produced by Martin Hannett and Joy Division. Recorded 18-30 March 1980 at Britannia Row Studios, London. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isolation_(Joy_Division_song)