Little House on the Prairie

By John Stones

The subversion of public spaces for illicit purposes has a long and venerable history, particularly by gay men in search of a quickie. This overlooked, yet sometimes over-policed phenomenon of urbanism – the adaptation of toilets and parks into sites of erotic activity – is the subject of Glory Hole, a show organised by the Architecture Foundation as part of its Renegade City season. As well as a map of London, with pins helpfully stuck in to show areas that are particularly amenable to subversion, there is a poignant photograph of a cruising area in a park by Los Angeles-based Dino Dinco, and another of Danish duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset’s Cruising Pavilion. Slightly more interactive is a video entitled Public Inconvenience, by Fernando Arias, showing cottaging in action at a London toilet, since closed down. Watching viewers watching the below-the-waist footage allows a doubling of the voyeuristic pleasures on offer. Despite this and the other items on show, such as graphics by Assume Vivid Astro Focus, you can’t help but think that so much more could have been made of a subject that has drifted out of fashion since the glory days of Joe Orton and Kenneth Williams. But it’s still worth a visit, even without No Bra’s alternatively toe-curling and hilarious, Nico-esque, semi-naked performance on the opening night.Glory Hole runs until 22 July at The Yard, 49 Old Street, London EC1. For more information see www.architecturefoundation.org.uk

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