Wednesday 14 November / 6.30pm / The Box / Free, booking required
Artist Kevin Gaffney presents his latest film work, Far from the reach of the sun, followed by a Q&A with Michael Birchall, Curator of Public Practice at Tate Liverpool and Senior Lecturer at LJMU.
Far from the reach of the sun is set in a near future where a government- approved drug can alter your sexuality, allowing you to be satisfied in ways that were not previously in your nature. The corporation marketing the drug targets vulnerable gay people who have checked into a cruising resort which doubles as a correctional facility. Advertisements present the pill as a party drug for wealthy straight customers who have burned out the experience economy: “come take pleasure in marginalized sexual experiences without affecting your personality”.
Coded with references to pseudo-medical practices such as gay conversion therapy (which attempts to turn people straight, causing psychological problems for an already vulnerable minority), the film reflects on the church and medical profession’s history of interfering with the lives of LGBT/queer people. Incorporating archival footage of a gay & lesbian run church in Manchester in the 1990s, we hear accounts of exorcisms and suicide attempts. The indifference of priests and doctors to these young people’s lives is symptomatic of the church, state and medical community’s treatment of LGBT people historically.
Far from the reach of the sun revolves around the protagonists sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings; tumultuous worlds at odds with the power structures surrounding them. The film reflects on the effects of isolation and homophobia on a queer person’s relationship with themselves and others, and the plethora of stereotypes and contradictory messages that queer people navigate daily.
Kevin Gaffney is a visual artist working in film. He graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2011 with an MA Photography and Moving Image, and was awarded the first Sky Academy Arts Scholarship for an Irish artist in 2015. He was an UNESCO-Aschberg laureate artist in residence at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art’s Changdong Residency in South Korea (2014) and received the Kooshk Artist Residency Award to create a new film in Iran (2015). A monograph of his work, Unseen By My Open Eyes, was published in 2017.
Dr Michael Birchall holds a collaborative post with Tate Liverpool where he is curator of public practice, and Senior Lecturer in Exhibition Studies at Liverpool John Moores University. He is an active researcher in the Exhibition Research Lab at LJMU, devoted to the study of exhibitions and curatorial knowledge; and programme leader for the MA in Exhibition Studies.