Stephen Grebinski, Keyed to Masculine Comfort, 2015

Faced with the excess and diversity (where to start?) of publications in Queering the Collection, currently installed in the ICP Library, I was happy to find (& just by judging a book by its cover) a familiar name: Stephen Grebinski.

This past fall at the Art Book Fair at P.S.1 I bought one of his publications in the hot & steamy zine tent, recognizing his work from Instagram (aparafoto). Grebinski works with an archive of old (analogue) gay porn, culled from print publications and VHS tapes.

The self–published book Keyed to Masculine Comfort mixes images from porn and interior design manuals. Cropped, printed in black-&-white on cheap paper, with a laminated soft cover, the book suggests longing and loss through the sea changes of time and low-tech appropriation. Both collections were once ordinary, or representative of markets that have subsequently fallen into an abyss of irretrievable times past. Bodies and furnishings once fulsome with possibility have receded into obsolescence, betrayed by the very technologies that once propped them up as ripe and fantastic. Rather than consider forms or styles as changing (body types, hair, floral arrangements, wallpaper patterns, etc.), we are faced with the shifting norms of electronic media that speed far ahead of our slow flesh, demanding new models of recognition.

Relentless consumption can be viewed as a perpetual and uncanny crisis in this bittersweet model of defunct intimacy and interiority, understood only in hindsight, past the point of being discarded. The wit of this book is in its transformation of mundane materials into a charged and graphically complex mapping of discarded desires that survive (somehow) and reanimate (into something different) in this perpetual fire of media.


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