Filo Sofi Arts is proud to present Moises Salazar Tlatenchi’s debut NYC solo exhibition, at SPRING/BREAK Art Show 2021 Hearsay:Heresy. In “Let’s Get Physical,” curated by Gabrielle Aruta, Salazar Tlatenchi recontextualizes the modern gymnasium as an aggressively queer space of self-affirmation through ritual pain. In this immersive installation, visitors to this fully functional gym make themselves into works of art as they exercise among luminous and iconographic athletes evoking public confessions of faith in perpetual self-improvement.
Going to the gym can be a public auto-de-fé. The act of working out expresses a kind of faith in the idea of perpetual improvement. The iconography of traditional fitness, coded in gender stereotypes emphasizing masculine aggression, creates a scene of sexual politics where the heretical queer finds an at best awkward welcome, if not outright rejection and marginalization.
Exercise can be painful, an act of self-flagellation and penance for not achieving the ideal of health. We laugh and chide people for their workout foibles where a lack of physical fitness is a proxy for spiritual humiliation. But ideals are deceiving, and they are idealized from a particular kind of body to the exclusion of those differently embodied. The modern gym is designed with the mainstream ideal in mind and so invites only those who fit the stereotype given by the ideal.
Everyone else – stay out!
In “Let’s Get Physical,” Moises Salazar Tlatenchi offers a poignant clapback to this hyper masculine cult of perpetual improvement and cuts across the sexual politics of the gym and its iconography in a lavish celebration of overt queerness that invites us to get comfortable with pink fur, glitter, and ourselves just as we are. This gym asks visitors to stage their own passion plays with their own performance of self-acceptance where they might be most humiliated by getting comfortable.
Through this latest series of self-portraiture, rendered faceless, so that the artist’s likeness becomes a stand in for any queer Latinx youth seeking community and acceptance, Salazar Tlatenchi’s offers plush icons that invite everyone to be as they are. The absolution attained here is given by indifference, in a transcendent shrug that insists on being happy in the body that we’re in. The queer recoding of space is designed for these other real bodies, the non-ideal, and demands that we rethink our relationship to health, exercise, and self-acceptance.