May 17 – June 23, 2007
ClampArt is happy to present “Filthy Gorgeous: Self Portraits
by John Arsenault” – – the artist’s second solo exhibition at
Raised in a small town in northern Massachusetts, John Arsenault moved to New York City in 1997 to pursue a degree in photography at the School of Visual Arts. Since that time, he has been routinely turning his camera’s lens back upon himself, producing an outlandish and absurd, wild and exotic account of his life as a young, gay artist. “I wanted to produce a visual monologue about my life. I wanted to reveal the aspects of myself that I find most mystifying . . .” Exploring facets of his personal relationships, his sexuality, and his identity, Arsenault constructs varied scenarios that not only tell the story of his experiences, but also comment upon society at large. Arsenault’s work is a fresh and unusual hybrid of documentary and constructed photography, an apt reflection of our culture’s current fascination with the layering of reality and fiction.
Arsenault has a great eye for the strange, the unexpected, and the laugh-out-loud ridiculous. He is not afraid to poke fun at himself, and thus, is able to comment upon matters of broad cultural import without seeming shrill or pedantic. Writer, Dan Halm, has commented, “By tackling timely social issues in his over-the-top photographs, Arsenault not only casts a spotlight on these issues but at the same time delves into his own personal history.” He continues, “It is in his relationship with his partner, Joe, and their two dogs – – their family unit – – that Arsenault finds a rich well of inspiration. From the bedroom to the gym to scenes of the couple on vacation or playing doting parents to their two pets, we are treated to intimate moments of domestic bliss and the normality of two men in love.”
Arsenault’s photographs have a subtle and sophisticated aesthetic – – informed but experimental. They clearly have the perspective of a young eye. His work is vulnerable and honest, striking a universal chord. As Halm concludes, “One can learn a lot about oneself through another’s eyes.”