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Jonathan Mainley

My work reflects on systems and structures in society that quietly maintain order and status quo. These have ranged from the internet and class, to physical utility systems in the buildings around us. Often abstract concepts are given physical manifestation through the sculptural elements of my practice.


In the series ‘Princess Diana, Beer Cans, Balloons and Biceps’ my focus was turned to online identity, specifically the presentation of masculinity on gay hook up apps. Within these platforms, personas are created with limited space and time. Users browsing may only linger momentarily while visiting multiple profiles, this has created a culture where shorthand phrases such as ‘masc 4 masc’ are used by some in order to flag their preferences quickly. This shorthand has led to many feeling excluded or discriminated against. I’m particularly interested in how smaller digital queer culture has seemingly mirrored wider society late stage capitalism, in how it promotes a consumerist behaviour pattern through its construction and use. In the pieces there is a recurring motif of the logos by multinational company, Adidas. The mainstream brand is also seen regularly in niche gay pornography; the Adidas tracksuit bottoms that feature in the piece ‘Dress’ are often fetishised for their masculine appearance.


The works further address masculinity through their imagery; stereotypically ‘laddish’ items such as trainers and footballs are subverted by ‘camp’ elements such as tinsel and cocktail umbrellas. The painting technique of Tromp L’oeil (deceive the eye) is used in some of the works where cut outs of previously photographed arms are incorporated into the pieces; the audience may question the authenticity or the way in which the pieces were made. This asks us to consider the notion of identity as construct. 

Queer Contemporaries > John Mainley

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