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Archive: Peter Berlin

Peter Berlin is the image of sex for the generation of gay men who came of age in the 70s. He cut an iconoclastic figure in his skintight pants and blond pageboy atop a sleek torso, pectorals as hard as his cock and as high as his cheekbones. He was a gay cult figure, a fetish object in multiple senses: both an icon for worship and sexual fixation. And the highest Peter Berlin devotee was Peter Berlin himself. The photographer, filmmaker, mixed-media artist and designer used himself as his own model and muse, elevating self-portraiture and naked, unashamed gay eroticism to new levels of artistic legitimacy. Now, some of his most evocative photographs are on sale, offered by the Leslie Lohman Museum in New York City.

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Gay porn from the 70s and early 80s mixed with soundtracks from art cinema classics: this is “V.O”, a virtuous video mix edited by William E. Jones.

In a 59-min video produced in 2006, the artist combined softcore scenes and edited them over segments of sound from acclaimed directors’ works. Dialogues from Jean Renoir, Luis Buñuel, Tom de Simone, Manoel de Oliveira, Raúl Ruiz or Aki Kaurismäki’s films, among others, become in the video comments on cliché pre-coital productions. Initially made to introduce sex scenes, the film material here becomes somehow a travesty of everyday life.

In French « v.o » means « original version » and denotes films shown in their original languages with French subtitles (compares to « v.f », version française, the dubbed ones). In English, French, German or Spanish, selected tracks work here both as ironic observations on gay clichés and the re-evaluation of a classical queer imagery. Thus cruising in the New York subway turns here into a romantic meeting; a domination scene in the Navy into the best illustration for a tale of first love. And pizza delivery becomes a great moment for notes on Pachebel’s Canon and existential questions.

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