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Christopher Aque's practice connects desire and sexuality to the latent power structures and dynamics of public space. Through sculpture, photography and video, Aque often combines images or traces of individuals with urban sites, making evident the inherent vulnerability of private desires.
Aque's 2018 film Idling is composed of four single-shot scenes of men sunbathing in Brooklyn's Prospect Park during weekday afternoons, shot on a handheld Super 8 camera, then laboriously edited, frame-by-frame, to stabilize and center the subject of each shot against an empty black background. The footage serves as a tender expression of benign desires, albeit distant, anonymous, and voyeuristic ones.
Just beyond the trees visible in the film lies the Vale of Cashmere, a secluded part of the park that historically served as a cruising ground for local gay black men. In 2015, amidst a rush of gentrification in the areas surrounding the park, the Prospect Park Alliance announced a renovation of the Vale, which subsequently closed for two years. Overgrown vegetation was cleared, trees were removed, walking paths were restored, and upon its re-opening in 2017 the Vale was a more open, accessible, and visible area. Idling subtly alludes to the erasure of the park's cruising ground, part of a l ...
Aque used the same UV-C lights to develop a series of photographs, cyanotypes printed on glass or colored aluminum. The subject matter varies, yet through subtle connections always refers to the intersections between power dynamics and desire: a left-behind shirt in a former cruising ground earmarked for renovation, the skyscrapers of New York’s “Billionaire’s Row” towering above topless sunbathers in Central Park, a government-owned truck labeled “Sanitation” participating in a Pride parade, a verdant sidewalk planter in a gentrifying neighborhood adorned with the local police department logo.
At Liste, and a concurrent exhibition at the gallery in Berlin, Aque will show works inspired by memorial fountains, gardens, and pedestrian traffic of New York City. A new series of sculptures will pass water between two cast glass fountains, with UV-C lights sanitizing the water as it flows back and forth; images of flowers, public waterways, and fountains will be exposed with UV-C lights into gum bichromate prints, encased in plexiglas behind a linen passepartout. Water acts as a central theme between the works, connecting references at once biological, moral, economic, and sentimental.