These Pleasures A Wayward Distraction 

Monoprints on toiletpaper

Virtual exhibition, Instagram, 2020
Espacio Gallery, London, 2020

A project consisting of monoprints on toilet paper – abstract designs in colour, alongside black and white self-portraits, each accompanied by a single word emphasising an emotional state, like ‘Lonely’ or ‘Claustrophobic’, words addressing the impact of the lockdown, also connecting it to memories of my closeted adolescence, afraid of a burgeoning gay sexuality.

Produced in the second week of lockdown when toilet paper was scarce, twenty prints were made to show as a series on Instagram, eight prints were included in the group show ‘Reality and its Disorders’ curated by Ahmed Farooqui for the Degrees of Freedom artists’ group, September 2020.

The self-portraits respond to Raffaele Monti’s 1860s sculpture ‘The Veiled Lady (The Bride)’. The title and a written statement use elements from the lyrics of Isolation by Joy Division (Factory Records, 1980). 

For the physical show, I reinterpreted ‘Lonely’ as a Xerox poster, the original print enlarged by 1000%, a size exposing the material qualities of toilet paper, while also emphasising the magnitude of loneliness in relation to the lockdown and from a wider 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’ and feelings of loneliness, isolation and insecurity continue to have an impact on my life.

During the show, I test-performed To Step Outside, a recital of a brief text expressing a desire to break out and see the world.

These Pleasures A Wayward Distraction, monoprints on toilet paper, 105mm x 125mm, acrylic sheeting. Xerox print, 1000mmx760mm
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Roelof Bakker, all rights reserved, 2021