Luke Francis Austin

Curated by: Leah Asha Allen

 Doll 1 
oil on canvas

Black Art Sessions is pleased to present Luke Francis Austin, the first virtual presentation of work by the artist. This show features two works across painting and web-based digital collage that explore Black, queer, male fetishization and hyper-objectification as re-presented through pornographic imagery. Both works featured were made during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Doll 1 explores the Black, male body as an object on stage. The figure is painted as a collage of disparate parts including found images and an inflatable sex doll. The variance of skin tone suggests the subject may not represent any individual, but rather serve as a confrontation of a collective experience of distortion and commodification. The subject’s legs appear flattened reflecting both the projected inhumanity of the figure, as well as the flattening of identity through objectification in both Western art history and contemporary visual culture. The painting's frozen-odalisque begs whether or not the subject is a willing participant in the performance and who, exactly, comprises the audience.

 Black Gay Simulator 
Web-based, user-responsive installation.

Black Gay Simulator first appears as a spammy, NSFW banner advertisement. An inquisitive click brings us to an animated, user-responsive digital collage featuring the subject of Doll 1. There, we find ourselves in a pornographic playground reminiscent of navigating to an illicit webpage via Internet Explorer in the 1990s. The background image evokes a nightmarish reimagining of Manet’s Olympia, as the subjects’ gazes appear to follow and beg for recognition at every glance. Direct phrases such as “CONFRONT YOUR FANTASY”, “EXAMINE YOUR DESIRE”, and “FUCK YOUR IDEA” peek from behind the patchwork design of repetitive ads and pulsating “CLICK HERE” buttons. A masturbating .gif in the left-hand corner unabashedly embodies the extent to which Black, male queerness has been objectified and re-presented for consumption. Ultimately, an “ERROR 404” message greets the viewer who accepts the beguiling invitations to venture deeper, only to find their continued access and gaze rejected in an eternal loop, a final defense against the culture of relentless fetishization.

Luke Francis Austin (b. Los Angeles, CA, 1998, lives and works in New York) received their BFA from California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo. Through the construction and deconstruction of images, Austin challenges covertly racist imagery embedded in visual culture. By collaging together found images and self-portraiture, they create amalgamations that reflect how the artist and people who look like them are perceived. With an understanding of the lineage of western image making, gaze theory, and psychology, Austin’s work serves to ask questions about re-presentation and the exploitation of Black, queer people for pleasure.

For inquiries, please contact:

Artist: Luke Francis Austin ︎ ︎
Curator: Leah Asha Allen 

©Black Art Sessions