‘Iconic homosexual picture’: historical past of sailors and intercourse explored in Barcelona exhibition

A brand new exhibition on the Maritime Museum of Barcelona seeks to inform the story of the romantic and sexual actuality of males who spend their lives at sea.

El desig és tan fluid com la mar (Need Flows Just like the Sea) goals to evoke the lives of males dwelling in isolation however at shut quarters and whose intimate lives had been as soon as clandestine out of necessity as a result of homosexuality was and, and in lots of locations nonetheless is, thought of each a sin and a capital offence.

A few of these relationships had been exploitative, provided that kids as younger as eight had been recruited as cabin boys, however the restricted documentation that exists additionally describes many consensual relationships amongst crew members.

‘The hypermasculine sailor as an iconic homosexual picture’… work by Tom of Finland is on show on the exhibition. {Photograph}: Museu Marítim de Barcelona

There’s additionally a dialogue of matelotage, a type of same-sex marriage between pirates that emerged within the seventeenth and 18th centuries on the Caribbean island of Tortuga that allowed the signatories to inherit from each other.

The second a part of the exhibition appears on the creation of the hypermasculine sailor as an iconic homosexual picture, specifically within the homoerotic work of the artist Touko Valio Laaksonen, higher referred to as Tom of Finland.

There are examples of the kitsch masculinity of the French artists Pierre Commoy and Gilles Blanchard, in addition to Jean Paul Gaultier’s use of homoerotic photographs of sailors in promoting campaigns.

There’s additionally reference to the work of the French novelist and playwright Jean Genet, whose Querelle of Brest was made into a movie by Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1982.

“If there’s gay love at sea it’s as a result of it additionally exists on land,” the exhibition curator and historian Víctor Ramírez Tur mentioned on the launch. “However the protecting up, secrecy and hostility that surrounds the lifetime of gay mariners hasn’t disappeared.”

The exhibition is open till 11 November 2021.

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