London artist Carl Hopgood will turn the decommissioned public toilets at Taylor Square into Fuck Love, a site-specific installation piece.

Open to the public as part of the 2008 Mardi Gras festival program, Fuck Love will see the toilets become an underground museum of Hopgood’s experiences of gay culture.

It will feature slide projections, video installations, neon signs and a frieze, depicting a stereotypical world of hedonistic beauty that meets a tragic and seedy underground world.

Hopgood said his appropriation of a public underground toilet as a place for art was about looking at a space where private acts become public spectacle.

Throughout modern gay history the public water closet is a place where difference became acceptable and celebrated in the shadow of persecution and retribution -“ a -˜church’ where men worshiped other men’s bodies, he said.

However, these institutions are now being decommissioned and, since the advent of internet date sites and webcam, traditional methods of meeting other men, such as -˜cottaging’ and telephone dating, have been lost.

One of the friezes above the disused Victorian urinals will depict male prostitute classified adverts Hopgood found in the back of gay magazines -“ their headless torsos protecting their identities.

The empty toilet cubicles with their toilet bowls removed will become speakers that amplify recorded soundbites of men describing themselves on a telephone chat line.

And on a table will sit a plaster cast of Hopgood’s fists, seemingly dismembered, with images of the same fists projected around the room.

The work, titled Stigmata (self portrait) and Knuckle Sandwich respectively, was Hopgood’s response to homophobic bullying he experienced as a child.

The obscenity and violence that I associated with fists, and the words -˜Fuck’ and -˜Love’ seemingly tattooed on each finger, make reference to the -˜Love/Hate’ tattoos often found on ex-cons and biker fists, he said.

It’s also about unmasking guilty secrets from the perverse pleasure of tough love from violent relationships and the fetishism of the fist.

Hopgood told Sydney Star Observer he was very excited about coming to Sydney for the first time in February.

I am very much looking forward to experiencing the gay culture of Sydney and the sunshine home of Mardi Gras, he said.

Fuck Love will be open from 15 to 29 February, Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-6pm. See it at the Taylor Square public conveniences, 136 Oxford St. For more information go to www.greyspace.net.au/carlhopgood.htm.

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