Ivan Lozano: Fantasy Vision Meditation (In Color)

Mass Gallery

On view through March 8, 2008
by Andy Campbell

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      Ivan Lozano, Fantasy Vision Meditation (In Color), 2008 Balloon, mirrors, glitter, chain, television Dimensions Variable Photo: Anna Krachey

      Ivan Lozano’s first gallery show, Fantasy Vision Meditation (in Color), is a multimedia installation at MASS Gallery through March 8, 2008. Lozano’s work investigates the parallel historical narratives of disco, gay liberation movements and AIDS, as well as the forgotten figure of Los Angeles gay pornographer Fred Halsted. In the center of  MASS’s darkened gallery, a TV monitor sitting on the ground plays a three-minute loop from A Night at Halsted’s (1980), a film directed by and starring the pornographer. In this loop, an actor stares up at the ceiling through partially closed eyelids and his slack mouth offers a glimpse of white teeth. Watching this video, I kept thinking, this man is either in trouble or in ecstasy—it’s tough to tell.  Hanging above the TV monitor, a huge inflated balloon registers the projections of  an eight-minute loop of kaleidoscopic color patterns. On the back wall, a colorful halo outlines the shadow of the balloon. Mirrored tiles placed on the floor create a pyramidal altar before the TV monitor, and piles of glitter seem to spill out of it onto the mirrors, like metallic blow. (If Carle Andre were a disco-loving queen, perhaps he would’ve ditched the bricks for mirrors and glitter.) Echoing the visual din, disco music fills the room. The music, like the videos, is slowed down to a frighteningly glacial pace. The effect is simultaneously chilling and heartbreaking, gorgeous and glamorous.

      The artist’s choice to resurrect Halsted—a figure largely ignored in queer historical accounts of the period—tells us something about the kind of history Lozano wants to remember and record. In focusing on Halsted rather than a brighter star in the queer historical pantheon, Lozano is unearthing a historical moment in queer culture that would be otherwise lost to contemporary viewers. All the referents in Fantasy Vision Meditation point to this 1970s gay subculture in Los Angeles. Lozano calls this his “West Coast” work, and promises to compliment it in the future with and East Coast episode. Perhaps we can convince him to do a Gulf Coast episode as well, as vibrant queer cultures appeared there around the same time.

      In Fantasy Vision Meditation Lozano approaches late 70s and early 80s queer history as a collection of feelings—feelings of loss, nostalgia and even, dare I say, jubilation—that conflagrate into a messy, complicated series of engrossing, open-ended narratives. In short, the installation is a history of feelings, our feelings. It reflects the challenges we face when we engage with this critical period in queer history. Fantasy Vision Meditation is pornography without gratification and disco without dancing. Something is fundamentally amiss and we miss it—the sex, the disco, the dancing, the blossoming counterculture. Ivan Lozano’s new installation is a literal and critical reflection on the visual output of the disco era and the cunning of history: your hangover may subside and your body may recover, but the past is the hardest thing to recuperate.

      Andy Campbell is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Art History at the University of Texas in Austin. He is currently writing about gay and lesbian leather communities and visual cultures in the 1970s.

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