Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shane Golby Signs of Desire, Latitude 53, November 6 - 28, 2009*

In a series of repeated images of self and others in suggestive poses collaged and layered over each other on street signs and other materials, Shane Golby's Signs of Desires takes on the the literal and metaphorical notion of signs.

One of the most surprising figures to repeat itself throughout the exhibition is a rainbow-haired Treasure Troll, which besides from being nude, stands apart from the rest of the bare asses and muscular builds.

Explaining the repetition of the troll, Golby remembers that as a young boy in south Edmonton, he was very likely the only boy who collected troll dolls. Coupled with a religious upbringing that left very little room for Golby to explore his sexuality, who at one point was going to be a Lutheran Pastor, Golby looks back today reflecting, "I was tired of feeling guilty."

Then, about ten years ago, along with partner Chris Carson as they hit up garage sales as the two prepared to move in together, Golby found an entire box of Treasure Trolls being sold off by a young man. Associating the collection of troll dolls as something a young gay male would do, Golby recalls it was a sad encounter, with the boy having a black eye and another male figure lurking silently in the background. Golby and Carson bought the entire collection, one of which was the rainbow hair troll used in the exhibition, prominently appearing throughout the exhibition along with homoerotic text and images.

Currently the Manager/Curator of Traveling Exhibitions Program at the AGA, Golby spent three years in the University of Alberta's printmaking program, something that continues to influence his art practice.

"We only see the surface of people, but underneath there are many layers, secrets we may never know," says Golby. "With the repetition of images, I can change the context of the image using the same image, exposing that layering,"

Judging from the layering on display in Latitude 53's ProjEx room, Signs of Desire is more indicative of Golby's self-narrative of coming to terms with his sexuality. With words for and even a piece by his partner featured prominently in the exhibition, the show is largely engaging with Golby as he stakes a claim for his own desire.

Besides a few digitally manipulated pieces of erotica in public spaces, the majority of the exhibition is a blend of gel-transferred text and image, which highlights Golby's passion for writing. Explaining the impetus for the seven chapters on display, much of which is an autobiographical erotica, Golby says, "I only owned three porno mags and I thought, 'Well this is getting boring,' so I just started writing my own gay stories."

With edits in tact on a very first draft, the story is divided into two sections, the first half dealing with the guilt and pain of his earlier years and and the second half on the upward swing of growing stronger individually.

Reproducing his autobiography on two enlarged triangles, the first half facing down and the second half facing up, Golby concludes, "This is about marking my territory and putting my sexuality out there."

Image credit: Shane Gobly, 2009

*First published in Vue Weekly

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