Fund: $45,000

LAXART will present Sperm Cult, a collaborative exhibition by artists Elijah Burgher and Richard Hawkins. Although Sperm Cult was initially realized as a book, LAXART has invited Burgher and Hawkins to reconceive the project as an exhibition. Opening in January 2019, the exhibition will take on the candidly homosocial and homosexual content of the book—which features photographs of young gay men, sometimes styled with boldly painted bodies and masks, engaged in sexual acts—and will be accompanied by elements of each artist’s practice: Burgher’s interest in the occult and Hawkins’s interest in ethnographic sexual taboos and rituals. Sperm Cult’s Edenic mis-en-scene is cast as a decidedly queer space, one of seclusion where desire can be acted upon in free form. Burgher and Hawkins reimagine homosexuality’s subcultural past as tribalism as they push against its normalization within contemporary society. With respect to gay subcultures, Sperm Cult is willfully regressive for the sake of being critical rather than nostalgic. In advance of the exhibition, Berlin-based artist Burgher will travel to Los Angeles for a short production residency, working both individually and collaboratively with Hawkins. The resulting body of work will further evolve on-site at LAXART during an installation process that incorporates ritualistic and performative actions. Curated by Hamza Walker, this exhibition, along with a robust series of related public programs, will serve as moment to reflect on gay subcultures in both a theoretical and historical sense.