Arts & Entertainment
2 min

In the gallery: ‘Spectacle & narrative & exploitation’

The blood & guts of the entertainment industry

SPLATTERING TRUTHS. Bruce LaBruce's Polaroid Rage opens Fri, Jun 2 at Gallery 1313.

Not enough blood and guts in Saw II? Feeling like gore has become limp-wristed? Hardcore homo Bruce LaBruce’s upcoming show at Gallery 1313 promises to satiate the thirstiest vampire. With a series of 30- by 40-inch colour photographs, LaBruce documents installations he’s done over the last five years.

He says he uses blood “to comment on the visceral, primal attraction of violence and gore and how it has become entertainment for the masses.” The porn for which LaBruce has become infamous was never a mindless desire to shock, rather a fearless critique of an industry fraught with issues. This critical approach is the foundation to this series of images. “I think it’s kind of obvious that the world has become hooked on blood, gore and carnage. As a character says in one of my new scripts, ‘Death is the new pornography.'”

LaBruce sees a connection between both the subject matter of gore and porn as well as how their respective industries operate. “There’s no doubt that gore has a cathartic function. But there’s something creepy about it when it’s produced and marketed by corporate entertainment entities who package it like pornography for mass consumption. I think [gore] always works better in a more B-movie, underground exploitation context.”

What makes LaBruce suspicious is how mass-marketed horror is consumed without reflection. “It’s funny to me that people will flock to movies with the most outrageous, disgusting, over-the-top violence and gore but when you make some little piece of art that comments on it or critiques it or mocks it, people think you’re sick or creepy. What-evs.”

Accompanying the exhibition is a performance open to all viewers where they can, according to LaBruce, “insert themselves into a dramatic scenario and participate in it.” A Polaroid picture captures the moment. It’s immediate gratification that cannot be further archived; there are no hidden digital files or photographic negatives. The experience is remembered by a technology that will soon cease to exist. Polaroids are not only a dying technology but they also allow LaBruce to add an interactive element to what he does as a filmmaker. “It’s about spectacle and narrative and exploitation.”

The staged live photo shoot at the opening of the show will feature Lola, “local Latin bombshell and tranny-about-town.” For only $10 you too can pose in terrorist drag with Lola and have a signed Polaroid to prove you had the guts to even be there. Terrorist drag? LaBruce sets up a pseudo terrorist scene to pose in. “It’s exploring the idea of CNN and other corporate entities using terrorist abduction videos as titillation and entertainment. In my work I often take creepy pop phenomena like that and just take it to the next level to draw attention to its creepiness.”

LaBruce has imagined and created a travelling art show which appeared at last year’s Toronto Alternative Art Fair International and at Los Angeles famed Platinum Oasis for several years. With all this experience behind him, he knows how to balance anticipation. “I expect people to start ripping off their clothes and speaking in tongues. Or maybe they’ll just stand there.”

Show up and find out.