G 877 (alias Matt Ramsey) (2011)
In the Valand School of Fine Art archive over works by former students that are owned by the school, my work is registered as G877. It consists of three photos of actors taken from videos produced by the American gay porn industry. I created them by freeze-framing the video with my remote control and photographed the TV screen with diapositive black-and-white film in the camera.
Between 1984 and 1989, I was living in Göteborg while studying painting. Meanwhile, I oscillated between the art scene and the gay scene. Two worlds that I rarely allowed to overlap, because I still maintained this division in my life. Gay life and ordinary life. I recall how the art scene was dominated by painting and the economic boom. Postmodernism was launched widely, and I was painting on roller blind fabric and masonite. In the gay world the disco culture set the tone, but also the backlash from the 1970s »glad to be gay« movement. My friends were Leif, Bernt and Stefan, who had lived in a gay commune on Stampgatan. My closest friends from Valand were probably Stefan, Monika and Eva. I went to exhibitions at Rotor, SubBau and Frölunda Kulturhus. I partied at the Valand club and hung out at Tai Shanghai. Later at night, I would go on to Club Bacchus on Bellmansgatan. Occasionally, I would cruise in Slottsskogen, Kungsparken or meet someone through a dating hotline, »Heta Linjen«. When I look at these photos again, I also recall my fear of AIdS and the dead.
I search the internet to try to identify a few of the men in the scene from a park at night, which I remember photographing from my TV, realising that they are probably dead now, since the sex scenes were shot without condoms. But I discover that the one who aroused my strongest desire is still alive. Peter North (born 1957), who eventually became one of the biggest heterosexual porn movie stars in the 1990s. On Wikipedia I read that North has featured in more than 2,000 films, and that he made several gay porn movies early in his career under the pseudonym Matt Ramsey. When I search my studio for my pictures of Matt (original diapositives) from the park, I discover that they have disappeared, but I find another picture I had forgotten about.
As I write and relive these memories, the work is not yet created. »Before any contribution by memory, what is seen must at the present moment so organize itself as to present a picture to me in which I can recognize my former experiences.«¹ When you read this, you may have seen and you may be trying to remember what you saw.
Biography Born 1956 in Sweden, lives and works in Sweden. Matts Leiderstam problematizes what we see, how and why. In several presentations he has discussed the relationship between gaze and sexuality as well as undermined notions of authenticity and reproduction. Recently he has exhibited at: Turku Art Museum, Turku; Grazer Kunstverein, Graz; Malmö Art Museum, Malmö; Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, and Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Han received his education at Valand School of Fine Art. In 2006 he received his PhD from the Malmö Art Academy.
Photo: Hendrik Zeitler