Akeroyd Collection


P. Staff, The Foundation, 2015

The Foundation combines footage shot at the Tom of Finland Foundation in Los Angeles with choreographic sequences shot within a specially constructed set that draws on the aesthetics of experimental theatre. This decision allows staff to introduce an intergenerational discourse of identity formation and locate it in the context of historically important struggles within the queer community. The Tom of Finland Foundation is home to the archive of the artist and gay icon as well as the community of people that care for it and the film becomes a portrait of a site and a reflection on the multi-layered, multi-faceted communities that it hosts and promotes. The work of Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen (1920–1991), better known as Tom of Finland, made a considerable impact on masculine representation and imagery in post-war gay culture and the foundation was established in 1984 by Tom and his friend Durk Dehner to preserve his vast catalogue. But rather than focusing on Tom of Finland’s work as a documentary might, Staff’s film thinks through the social relations that such a place produces. In its exploration of archival material and the people who care for it, the film is able to ruminate on the more human aspects of archives and the communities that can be built when such an approach to institutional working is considered.

The film asks; how is a collection formed and constituted? What kinds of communities can a body of work and its collection produce? And in posing these more museological questions while also referencing experimental theatre, the work is able to ruminate on the performance, construction and deconstruction of gender identifications. The two strands of the work combined explore queer intergenerational relationships via the visual encounters with historical archival materials and the choreographed sequences between the overtly masculine older generation and the less binary identity formation of the younger artist.

MediumSingle-channel HD video, colour, sound
Duration28 minutes 20 seconds
Editionof 5 + 2 APs