“NITTY GRITTY: MALE TOILET ANGST” BY EVERGON
February 25 to April 8, 2023
Montréal, February 14, 2023 – ELLEPHANT is pleased to present the exhibition Nitty Gritty: Male Toilet Angst, from the series Manscapes, by Montréal’s very own legendary photographer Evergon.
Secret hook-up spots for gay cruising have been around since the beginning of time. Images of these places are rarer. For those who wish to partake, frequenting these locations is emotional; fueled by desire, heavy with angst, as the individual can be gratified or rejected or be beat-up, killed or arrested by the law or the outlaw.
From 1993 to 2003, Evergon travelled to, and photographed clandestine cruising grounds in Southern Ontario, Toronto, Chicoutimi, Montreal, Vancouver Island, Newfoundland, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Baltimore, Chicago, Midland Florida, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Italy, Berlin, Germany, England, London, Scotland, Sweden, Estonia, Finland, Australia, Goa, India, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. This body of work started out as the series Truck Stops & Lovers Lanes, but over time became simply known as Manscapes.
The Nitty Gritty exhibition focuses on beautiful photographs from the gritty side. Bringing together the images of the shady areas, the worn spots and seats and pissoirs, where bodies come together. A forgotten coat, graffiti, porno drawings, messages left behind, names scratched into surfaces, mark the presence of the men.
Evergon mentioned that what you don’t see in the photos is the group of horny men, not so patiently waiting behind him, while he takes the picture. Sometimes, the men refused to give up their space to the artist, so he included them, extremely close-up, tightly framed by his lens in the cramped spaces.
The silver gelatin print titled Silver Boy included in Nitty Gritty is from the celebrated Ramboys series. Manscapes overlapped with the Ramboys, and Evergon continued to use 3 ¼ x 4 ¼ negative/positive Polaroid pack film with his Mamiya camera. He pushes photographic technology in a manner that is clearly seen in these prints. By opening the Polaroid film early, he caused the Sabattier effect resulting in gorgeous silver-tones and a curious reversal of positive and negative. The effect, combined with the faded sections and undefined rough edges inherent to this type of Polaroid, is where for Evergon the fiction begins.
“These grey areas of the photographs are where the magic happens, where the fairies have been. It is a space that is not photographic, it doesn’t contain the details, it is a space for the imagination to play.” – Evergon
Evergon’s Manscapes series was shot in the decade between 1993 and 2003. Gentrification and the demise of Polaroid heralded the series’ end. Times changed and the Internet and the personal computer replaced the international networking of gay men who shared these locations by word of mouth and scrap paper maps. For Evergon, the Manscapes images are based on research and gossip.
The exhibition Evergon Nitty Gritty: Male Toilet Angst is open to the public Wednesday to Saturday, from 12-5pm at ELLEPHANT until April 8. The career retrospective Theatre of the Intimate, featuring over 50 years of Evergon’s photographic work, is on view at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec until April 28, 2023.
Founded in 2015, ELLEPHANT represents contemporary artists whose works are exhibited in Canada and internationally. Its mission is to support and promote post-digital, inclusive, postcolonial and feminist art. Located on Peace Park in Montreal, in the former Red Light district, ELLEPHANT is part of the renowned cultural sector of the Quartier des Spectacles.
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Click here for the complete list of works in the series Nitty Gritty: Male Toilet Angst