The gallery is dark, except for the faint glow of those nauseating ‘bisexual lights’ with purple and blue LEDs designed to prevent people over forty from straying into nightclubs. Water trickles against a patch of soil and the air smells like Dow Chemical’s idea of the forest. A massive tree trunk is the centrepiece and, save for some patches of amorphous mess, that’s about it.
Only on reading the gallery handout did I understand that this environment was Yeung’s study of the gay cruising area in the woods on Hampstead Heath. The trunk is the infamous ‘fuck tree’, the water is piss, and the splats of paint stand in for cum.
I may be over the club’s admission age but I find art’s predilection for ‘celebrating’ minority sexual behaviours reductive not because they’re distasteful but because they inevitably reinforce the mechanisms of governance that practices like cruising try to evade. It’s stressful enough to fuck in the forest for fear of passers-by or the police; imagine having to also look out for curators.