Night time for the Boy who can Fly (2007) by Ashlee Laing consists of three wooden hot tubs, each one filled with water. Projected from above into these pools is the life-sized image of a man. In the first tub, A Japanese man floats peacefully, his skin illuminated by what appears as diffused sunlight penetrating the murky water. In the second tub is the image of a Korean man. His illusionary descent weighs upon us; this man is not thrashing or fighting for air. He slowly and endlessly drops, heavy and seemingly resigned to this watery death. In the third tub a Caucasian man swims slowly upwards it is initially with comfort that we receive this third scenario. His action seems a positive affirmation of life an answer to the previous scenes of despair. It is only after a few moments that we realize the swimmer is trapped, unable to emerge from the glass-like surface of his watery prison.
These three men are forever contained, doomed in the most intimate of bathhouse scenes. There is no steam or warmth, just repetitive gurgling, three spots of projected light in the darkness. The hot tubs appear bottomless. The works are the result of Laings research into the globalisation of sexuality and the effect of western queer politics upon North East Asia, and how boundaries are forced upon the individual by cultural, sub-cultural and self-identification codes. Laing has trapped these lovers, preserved them, forcing us to recognise their subjectification to an un-ending struggle that is at once individual, momentary, fluid and timeless. The swimmers glow alluringly and the eroticism of this work is undeniable. Their naked shoulders are unable to break the meniscus and we desire to put our own hands onto wet flesh and liberate the imprisoned lovers.
Love Bites Catalogue Sarah Jones (Writer / Curator)