When Ivan LOZANO was invited to exhibit new artwork in Bijou, Chicago’s oldest gay sex theater, it was the perfect marriage of content and context. The sex theater is like a museum of gay culture from the 1970s and eighties, and still functioning, although its formerly clandestine activities are now open to the public. Lately LOZANO had been making paper cutouts of floral patterns whose contours are dictated by cum shots found on amateur porn websites. The liquid shapes, in hazy pink and green, are the colors of faded memories. Attached to the wall and mingling, they create a camouflage-like pattern.
Sometimes these florals, like memorials, accompany portraits of porn actors from the golden age of gay sex. The men are all likely dead now, victims of the lost generation. LOZANO reanimates them with looping GIF videos that are layered with technical process.
Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Lozano then lived in Texas. His mother taught him Dia de los Muertos traditions, and implanted an affinity for magic in his everyday encounters, and which he carries into his experimental films. Today LOZANO sees film and video as a conjuring of faded images that were once animated faces. The video work performs the similar ritual labor that incantations and Mexican votives do, honoring and reviving the memory of ancestors.
Excavating the old gay porn videos is “not just a jerk off,” says LOZANO. Porn established a visual culture. It taught gay men how to act, how to dress. It was a “pedagogical, world-making project,” he says of the dated porn. LOZANO’s memorials from that era usually take place online, in digital space, so the memories of past people do not die with technology.
A new way of activating the ephemeral digital space with artwork is Image File Press, which LOZANO started in 2013 as a monthly online publication to document the voices of contemporary artists and peers. They need not be in the gay community, just alive and producing art. The PDF artist zines are available for free at ivanlozano.net/image-file-press.