Joseph Ridgeon

I create work based on lived experiences and as such my practice isn’t a project with a start, middle or end. I make work to mark points that bear significance to me or to the nightlife, people, toilets, cruising grounds, saunas, clinics, community centres and STIs that form our culture and identities. I references photographs and cartoons from queer erotic blogs and forums, like hairy stomachs, beards, asses and dicks. Fantasy tropes such as woodland and fungi make regular appearances in my work, setting a scene for various appropriated acts and subjects to be re-imagined.

Drawing is a constant process for me and forms the majority of my work. More recently I have been making digital drawings as it facilitates a more direct way of dealing with the subjects. It makes sense that the people I come into contact with online who send me photographs, or the pornography I watch, are represented through a digital medium and can be placed into the context of its subject. A drawing will often be the catalyst for sculptural and installation work, informing the material or aesthetic choices that I make when creating 3D works.  

I am interested in how queer art has to constantly fight acts of censorship. Multimedia platforms like Instagram and Tumblr impose morals upon queer artists in the name family values, branding eroticism and nudity as obscene and offensive. My practice, and life, are encased in a bubble of queer mentality and people. Trying to get my work seen by others in the world means that that bubble constantly has to be popped. When I was trying to get some t-shirts printed of one of my drawings “Happiness”, the company replied that the drawing could be offensive and contradicted their NSFW policy.  The picture shows a young man smiling with white fluid on his face.  I asked to see what part of this policy it contradicted as it was just yoghurt on the man’s face.  Of course there was no contradiction of policy, they had made the decision based on the fact that it ‘could’ cause offense.  They then agreed to print the image as long as it was titled yoghurt face. They wanted retain the façade of child like innocence, disavowing their own knowledge of a cum facial. I am constantly left asking who are we offending, and why does is cause offence when there is no harm or exploitation?  

By creating works that show elements of queer life, I take ownership of my sexuality, my desire, my PrEP and my identity. I believe that there is power in making work where there is a sense of exposure or intimacy; by allowing people to form dialogue around subjects which typically may not be spoken about, we can discover new common ground.

I graduated from the university of the west of England in 2012 with a first class degree and have recently completed and MFA Fine art at Goldsmiths University of London. I have shown work in various venues and participated in artist projects such as DYE house 451 (solo show 2016), AA Bronson’s Queer Vitrine (Frieze art fair 2016) and most recently a collaborative project Meeting Ground (Bow Arts London 2018).

https://www.instagram.com/joseph.ridgeon/

http://josephridgeon.com/

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