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Herculean Muscles, Winckelmann & Body Ideals: A Discussion About the Gay Party Scene

11. September 2017 19:00

In the context of the exhibition Winckelmann – The Divine Sex and Folsom Europe 2017

Divine sex – with divine bodies? How important is it in today’s gay scene to have a Herculean body of the category 18th century art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann admired in statues from Greek Antiquity? Since when have such bodies become omnipresent in real life, e.g. at the Folsom street fair in Berlin? And what changes do me have on the “meat market” when they don’t look like this?

We want to discuss how body ideals have changed throughout the years, in the exhibition rooms of Winckelmann – The Divinge Sex, between the famous statues of Hercules and the Barberini Faun. On the panel: the boss of Berlin based porn studio Cazzo. Although he himself has a Hercules body, he says that member’s of Berlin’s gay scene don’t care too much for muscles but for “big dicks” and “big holes.” Which is exactly what Winckelmann does not include in his “Canon of the Beautiful.” What he does include, however, are daddy/twink pairings, for example in the many Zeus and Ganymed paintings. We will ask Mr. Cazzo what such an old fashioned gay stereotype from art history is seeing such a massive revival in contemporary gay porn.

Also on the panel is Wolfgang Theis, one of the founders of the Schwules Museum*. He went to New York in the 1970s and saw Tom of Finland men for real for the first time, in bars and discos. And he witnessed how this trend came to Europe and Germany, where the local activist scene was more interested in left wing politics than beautiful bodies. But that changed quickly.

Joining the discussion is artist Mathias Vefwho works in the border areas of body and identity. He’s interested in “exceptional bodies” that are often an expression of “exceptional personalities,” as he says. He is fascinated by people who see their bodies as something that can be “shaped and created,” turning the body into “an expression of their conscience.” His models are turned into ‘hackers’ in his works that ‘hack’ into their own identity and form, questioning the bounderies of subculture and mainstream and what is considered ‘good looking.’ As an artist, Berlin based Mathias Vef uses the ‘body material’ his models supply and turns it into collages, these are then further deconstructed with the party drug GHB. A reference to the potentially destructive element in the muscle worshipping gay party culture.

Other participants in the discussion are Kai Pörsken, head of IT and marketing at gay lifestyle company Bruno Gmünder where he had lots of experience with the representation (and non-representation) of body types and with online behavior. A different aspect will be added by ‘Vukasin’ who labels himself a DUF, a Designated Ugly Friend. He has made some remarkable experiences of his own with “the diving sex.”

The curator of the Winckelmann exhibition, Dr. Wolfgang Cortjaens, will make sure the art history element won’t be ignored. He will lead the discussion together with Dr. Kevin Clarke, author of the book Porn: From Andy Warhol to X-Tube and curator of the exhibition Porn That Way.

Tickets: 4 Euros

Visitors of the Folsom street fair are welcome to show up in their fetish outfits and join the discussion.