Critics’ Picks

View of “Hudinilson Jr.,” 2015–16.

View of “Hudinilson Jr.,” 2015–16.


Hudinilson Jr.

Galerie Sultana
75, Rue Beaubourg
November 19, 2015–January 23, 2016

The photocopy machine revamped office labor—it was a new technology that gave us quick, clean, and guilt-free reproduction. The late Brazilian artist Hudinilson Jr. fully embraced the photocopier and wasn’t afraid of getting slow and sexy with it. His willingness to queer up the flatbed picture plane is explicit in Exercício de me ver, 1981, created from the artist pressing his naked body onto the exposure drum while periodically clicking “copy” until satisfied. The results depict him abstracted, fragmented, and flattened into swirls of hairy decor. A related work—untitled, undated, and stamped “Xerox Action”—includes documents in which photographer Afonso Roperto captured Hudinilson Jr. arched over the photocopier, junk on the glass. We also catch him mid-pose, considering the images of his body the machine spits out, creating a feedback loop in which the artist could adjust his “look” and switch positions based on the machine’s gaze.

Working in the midst of the AIDS epidemic and during Brazil’s transition from a military dictatorship to a democracy, Hudinilson Jr. insisted on representing and exposing the homosexual male body. In works from the 1980s such as Narcisse, he embraced a kind of vainglorious fabulousness as a defiant gesture of gay identity in order to reclaim the images of his own ID photos and inked fingerprints, which were initially used as tools of state surveillance. The exhibition also includes painted, fossil-like undergarments, assemblages with pictures of male nudes, and a collage scrapbook available for gloved visitors to peruse. Mixing news clippings on Max Ernst with clothing catalogues and gay porn spreads, Caderno de referências XX, also made during the ‘80s, takes its place alongside precedents such as Hannah Höch’s 1933 Album in capturing the media of a certain time and place while upsetting “straight”-laced hierarchies and exclusions.