Thursday, January 15, 2004 to Saturday, February 21, 2004

    • Friday, January 16, 2004
    James Pierre and Pom Pom: Two Hearts Beat As One, is a narrative photographic series that follows the monotonous life of James Pierre, a lonely middle-aged male, who is living an awkward life in the feminine spaces of his deceased mother's home. Unwilling or unable to move on in his own life, he seemingly continues to find companionship and comfort in his cat, Pom Pom. Through the recreation of moments like birthdays and Christmas, the series embraces the cliché and turns it into a humorous consequence of one man's pathetic and predictable life. However, a sadness exists in James' lonely life, and the viewer is left with a para doxical impression, uncertain whether to ridicule or pity this pathetic cat-loving man. As a series of self-portraits, the work also melds issues of performance, gender, and identity, attempting to explore social dependencies and predictability. Although the series remains a humble and yet comical approach to loneliness, its use of the clichés strives to establish a negotiable fragility within the lines of difference that construct and maintain our identities. --James Prior Hegemonic, or normative, notions of masculinity are constantly constructed and renegotiated within the context of an evolving social structure and institutions such as legal and education systems, and culture carriers such as art, television and popular entertainment are important sites for this negotiation. Normative ideas of the masculine persist in the face of wide-ranging changes in the way men and women live their lives. Significantly large numbers of men are complicit in sustaining hegemonic forms of masculinity, even when their own experience of masculine identity is far removed from the ideal. Prior's work does not offer a remasculinisation of society through narratives that enable the staging of individual success; the recuperation of male-male bonds; the re-affirmation of the father; or the exclusion of the feminine. On the contrary in his work we are presented with the isolated single man, removed from any male comradeship or family ties; living in his mother house and to some degree, living her life; there is no obvious success here ... The nostalgic sensibility to Prior's images, communicates a strong sense of loss. It is here were one becomes unsure if James Pierre's life is nostalgic of a masculine past rendered discontinuous. After all, nostalgia is a response to a fear of change, either actual or impending, it represents concern over, or denial of, the future. In this case, is the future of hegemonic masculinity appearing to be under threat, or are we asked to consider alternative stories of manhood? James Prior's work enables us to probe into notions of masculine representation by capturing the nuances of an un-masculine performance to express the often-elusive vagaries of social conditioning. Society regards independence, ambition, and competition as the best traits of masculinity. Prior takes these characteristics and counter-portrays them in his narritve. Furthermore, he questions these masculine conventions and their relationships to the personal and social, bringing together certain aspects from the psychological and social dimensions of the feminine and domestic, presenting a rarely seen story of masculine identity. -- Jessie Lacayo, Curator