Young Men at Play
Dean Sameshima

April 2–May 14, 2005

Dean SAMESHIMA

“BUTCH is the international naturalist magazine. It is dedicated to the furtherance of realism in art, photography, and literature-without idealization of the beautiful or avoidance of the ugly. The photography, art and articles contained in BUTCH are offered to illuminate the conviction that the body of man is clean and wholesome and that there can be no obscenity in God’s handiwork. It is our belief that the ability of man to be at one with himself, to have a high opinion of the portions of his body so long rejected and degraded, will make him stronger, not weaker; more moral instead of less moral. BUTCH hopes to do its part to bring about a world wherein man will, from the moment of birth, accept himself – not with guilt and shame; but with esteem and serenity – in totality as God mad him” BUTCH issue #5, 1966 – DSI

“PUBLISHER’S CREED – The publishers of BUTCH hold that all of us, every citizen, have a common ground to defend. There is no place in our society for efforts, whether legal or extra-legal, to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to reading and viewing matter deemed suitable for children, or to in hibit the efforts of writers and photographers to achieve artistic expression. Those concerned with freedom have the responsibility of seeing to it that each individual book or publication, whatever its contents, is given the freedom of expression granted to it by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.” DSI

I imagine that in the sixties, being a young man desiring another man was tough enough, not to mention trying to fulfill those desires. With what means do your desires get fulfilled? How do you connect with people who seem to have the same “urges” as yourself? Everything gay was underground. Access to information was secretive. Physique magazines often had texts stating that the publication was for “Artistic Purposes,” for artists who did not have access to live models and needed help drawing the “human figure.” I suppose many readers were thankful there were so many aspiring artists in the world creating a demand for images of nude men.

I remember with fondness the feelings I had and what lengths to which I went to get my desires fulfilled, at least visually, as a young boy in the early eighties. Walking home from elementary school was fun. About 3 blocks away from my house (a very safe distance) there was an alley littered with pieces of porn magazines. It was all “hetero” porn: lots of big-breasted women and few men. Even so, I would voraciously scavenge what few images of men I could. I would sneak them into my backpack and then paste them to ruled school paper and tuck it into a secret space under my bed where my mother would not find them. My dad never entered my room.

Though that was the eighties, a turbulent time for many gay men, I am reminded of my childhood collecting when looking at erotic chapbooks from the sixties. The ones I own have little or no text except for a cover title, price, and “Adults Only” warning. All the images were collected by a likely anonymous man from multiple sources and put together in book/zine form for the pleasure of others. Where did the compiler/collector find his images? How did he determine the layout, order, and color of each page?

In 2005 I am still a collector of images. I am no longer restricted to someone else’s discards scattered in an alley. My sources now include, but are not limited to, my own photographs and Polaroids, magazines, television, posters, and the Internet. Again, I am still a collector, but I am also my own archivist, editor, and publisher.

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Dean Sameshima (b. 1971, lives/works in Los Angeles) current exhibition consists of 2 new bodies of work. In the main gallery, we are presenting a new series of photographs entitled “Young Men At Play Volume 2”. In gallery 2, Sameshima is presenting an installation entitled “Boys in My Bedroom” which includes unique collages, photographs, Polaroids and the first public exhibition of his video works. A fully illustrated colour catalog accompanies the exhibition.

Sameshima earned his MFA from Art Center College of Design (2000), and his BFA from the California Institute of the Arts (1997). Sameshima’s work has been exhibited at the Pasadena Museum of Art (2002), Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles (2002), Kunstverein Hamburg, Germany (2002), Kunstraum Innsbruck, Austria (2002), and the Bard Center for Curatorial Studies, New York (2000) among other venues. Recent solo exhibitions include Alison Jacques Gallery, London, and Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo, where Young Men At Play Volume 1 is currently on view. His work was also recently published in CREAM 3 (Phaidon Press), and has also been reproduced and reviewed in Arttext, ArtForum, The New York Times, Camera Austria, the Los Angeles Times and Honcho. His work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.