Clary’s reworking of an early Robert Mapplethorpe photograph, Untitled (Larry and Bobby Kissing) seeks to reanimate an image of ardor from the structures of a mainstream culture of collecting in which any symptom of desire is deflected into the needs of a curatorial project of accumulation, outside of any physical body. As an aside to the image, I can’t help but think that the hyper-masculinity of many of the subjects in the X Portfolio can now look much more mainstream in relation to the extreme commodification of the body rendered into images of strength and health (and by extension, sex) that permeate our mediated everyday. It’s as if everyone behaves as if a camera is always pointed at them. And it’s OK. Clary complicates this kind of “total subject” by shifting its details like a board game, and reintroducing a sense of the arbitrary and a potential for play in what is otherwise a field of control. 

[Clary] reminds us that history, like memory, is not static. It is closer to a fire alarm (cribbing from Michael Löwy on Walter Benjamin), with a sense that “not even the dead will be safe from the enemy, if he is victorious. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious.” Full text.