2-minute 16mm film loop + drawings
Life Session is based on the first two minutes of a 1970s gay porn film. Shot on Super8, the original 10-minute film takes place in an artist’s studio: we see an artist drawing a live model, close-ups of the charcoal drawings he is executing, and shots of the model looking back at the artist. With the aid of several assistants, Henricks has made pencil drawings of every second frame of this two-minute excerpt. The installation features a 16mm loop of the redrawn animated sequences intercut with the live action footage from the original film, as well as a series of preparatory drawings.
This body of work takes its title from Falcon Film #615, Life Session (1977). Falcon Entertainment – also known as Falcon Studios – is based in San Francisco, California. It is one of the world’s largest producers of gay pornography. Falcon was founded by the entrepreneur Chuck Holmes in 1971. By the early 1980s, it had distinguished itself as a frontrunner at a time when distributing pornography was a criminal offence. Holmes was active in supporting politics at a local and national level, even helping to finance Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in the 1990s.
Falcon Studios was criticized for their slowness in adopting safe sex practices during the early 1980s. As a consequence, many actors associated with the studio died in the first years of the epidemic. Before dying of AIDS-related illness in 2000, Holmes directed a large portion of his fortune towards philanthropic causes, funding HIV/AIDS outreach programs and other community initiatives. The Charles M. Holmes building at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center is named in his honor.
Via widespread mail order distribution, Falcon Studios contributed to the construction of a gay male aesthetic, a style that originated in San Francisco’s Castro District. Porn offered men living outside major urban centres images of gay lifestyles at a time when representations of this kind were scarce. In this sense, these films were affirmative and enabling in the formation of gay identity and aesthetics. Today, the porn industry rivals Hollywood as an image economy, generating between $2 billion and $4 billion annually worldwide.
Life Session examines the myth of the artist in popular culture via the framework of an artist drawing a film of an artist drawing a model. Through this process, notions of aesthetics, reproduction and material presence are investigated.