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Stefan Thiel: 100 Berlin Based Men

29. March 2018 – 25. June 2018

Thiel’s paper cut-outs are world-renowned. They are featured in notable private collections and major museums and institutions in the US, Australia, and Europe. They can be found in the collections of the German Parliament as well as the National Gallery in Berlin.

The silhouettes of Thiel’s “black facebook” (2011-15) are an integral part of the history of homosexuality and its self-portrayal. They circulate in the art world and in the relevant social networks. Buyers include not only gay men, but also heterosexual women who have increasingly been discovering erotic representations of men as collectors’ items in the field of visual art. Using photographic source material, Thiel cut his silhouettes from black laid paper—including simple nudes from behind with dropped pants, pornographic situations on mid-century modern furniture icons, and large sizes such as “Logan + Bird Chair.

From this group of works, the series “100 Berlin Based Men” came to the Schwules Museum in 2016. In it, Thiel presents silhouettes of drag kings, heterosexual and homosexual men. Within four years, what started as a small, unspectacular study of male nudes became a magnum opus of 140 separate works. It comprises a diverse group of characters, captured in self-portrayal, from Stefan Thiel’s circle of acquaintances, the Berlin scene, and the networking site PlanetRomeo, from Sydney and Toronto to New York, Paris, and Warsaw. It is an artificial trophy collection, an anonymous yet intimate circle of friends made up of transsexuals, members of a rugby club, body builders, dancers, porn actors, Thiel’s art dealers from Berlin and Sydney, as well as many people widely known in the club life of Berlin. As part of the collection of the Schwules Museum, the “100 Berlin Based Men” have thus become an archive within the archive. And on our search for bodies that we recognize, they enhance our view of our own projections. We encounter Thiel’s paper cut-outs chained, as it were, in Plato’s cave, because the cut-out is like a black hole. We only discern its outer edge. It absorbs all our projections, becoming charged and condensed with the energy derived from our assumptions, hopes, and fears.

Translated by Katrin A. Velder, Boston

The catalog “100 Berlin Based Men” (2018, 29€) accompanies the exhibition. 25 exclusive copies of of Thiel’s “Young Man“ (2018, 55×40 cm) are available for 300€ each, including a signed copy of the catalog.

Concurrently, Schwules Museum will present objects and fotographs on “Leather”, among them the private collection of leather boots by Volker Zimmermann, which were given to Schwules Museum in 2013 and first shown during the celebrated “Homosexualit_ies” exhibition at Deutsches Historisches Museum/DHM. Works by Krista Beinstein and Gerhard Pohl will also be featured.