“Evie Leder’s The Objects is a meditation on the body consisting of approximately thirty videos, along with a series of detail photographs and video stills. Over a filming period of ten days, fourteen men—a diverse group of performers and artists in the San Francisco queer scene—visited the artist’s studio one by one. Creating an intimate space and relationship between artist and subject, Leder gave simple, but deliberate instruction: stand quietly, breathe, stretch, open and close eyes, turn. “I asked them to imagine themselves as forms in the frame… the symmetry of their arms and hands, how their breath changes their body. I asked them to imagine us looking at them.”
The resulting videos and photographs are a series of studies of these men. Silent and unedited, each figure stands nude on a black background for 12 minutes (together filling the size limit of the data drive, a reference to the 100-ft film rolls of Warhol’s screen tests). Filmed vertically but presented horizontally, the forms and movements become less familiar, forcing the viewer to consider them with an almost naïve perspective. The uniqueness of each subject is seen through their shapes and skin tone, in their personal expression through hair and tattoos, and through the varied response to the artist’s direction and their physical and emotional vulnerability. In Leder’s series, the men are objects, but specific, very human objects, with presence.
Continuing the artist’s interest in gender, power, identity, and the tensions inherent within the medium of video, the art-historical power exchange of the female subject to the male artist is also inverted. Reversing expectations of the gaze, of the subject, of masculinity, of queer subjecthood, Leder wanted to document men as they are in her community. “I’ve begun to explore the male body, to explore maleness and presence…Inspired by a visit to the Getty Museum’s antiquities gallery, where there was so much to say classically about the male form, I wanted to continue this dialogue. This was a chance to reverse some of the usual expectations.” At its core, this series shifted from an exploration of these men as objects to those of subjects and allows for deeper contemplation of the viewers’ relationship to the gaze, to identity and power, and to the iconic imagery of the male nude.”
– Rhiannon Evans MacFadyen, Founder, Black and White Projects