Self-portrait

In the 90s I started to download pornography off the Internet from sex and social sites. The folder was purposely buried deep in my hard drive and misnamed. But a hundred JPEG images grew to one then two thousand and inevitably spilled over into my studio. I first wanted to acknowledge them. To see everyone at once. So I made wallpaper and a pattern emerged—me without picturing me.



Detail of wallpaper printed on newspaper, cataloging my digital porn collection.

"The word 'play' is used by many gay men to refer to casual, recreational, no-strings sex. Light and friendly, it belongs to the Internet age—the era of hook-ups and fuck buddies. It's apt for describing how many gay men approach sex much of the time—something closer to a game or sport or entertainment than an act of emotional commitment. Also, it accommodates the idea of 'role play'—the acceptance that how we behave sexually need not reflect the truth of our inner being, but may be an act of performance adopted for the pleasure of the moment or the game. 'Play' also refers to how we use photography. Especially under the influence of porn, photography has become an everyday part of sex, used to describe our sexual selves for the purpose of attracting partners and for the voyeuristic and exhibitionistic pleasure of making and sharing sex pictures with our mates. Our sexual fantasies are expressed in the form of photographs.
I love how how this looks and feels after deinstalling the wallpaper.

It's here that contemporary photography is at it's most vivid, The relationship between porn and this erotic vernacular performance art—between creation and consumption—is addressed by Christopher Clary, in his confessional playroom installation, Self-portrait, which features wallpaper made up of the JPEG images collected from networking sites, showing men he desires, juxtaposed with his collection of porn magazines.



My wallaper was permanently installed and tagged in ABC No Rio’s bathroom.

Gay Men Play is premised on a view that the widespread use of cameras to articulate sexual identity and communicate about sex—particularly, but not exclusively, as practiced by gay men—is among the most interesting aspects of the phenomena of photography today. It's of artistic and art-historical interest, but more than that, if one wants to talk about how photography has the capacity to change the world, then look at what's going on here."
My talk and “back room” at the New York Photo Festival.

"Christopher Clary made an installation for an exhibition call Gay Men Play that I put together for the NY Photo Festival in 2009, about the use of photography by gay men as a tool for communicating about sex. The room he created, wallpapered with images he collected and output from his hard drive, was smart and affecting. But his work is only partly about photographs as social and sexual currency. In publicly exploring his desire for a particular photographic archetype of manhood, and the male nude, Clary poignantly mines issues of sexual fiction, self-confidence and male vulnerability."
— Chris Boot, Executive Director, Aperture Foundation

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