JJ Guest uses the visual language of football to tackle homophobia and prejudice in wider society. Through fractured sculptures and immersive installations (including a bath covered in water-reactive tiles), Guest's exhibition at OOF lays bare the violence, hypocrisy and double standards that LGBTQIA+ people have to face.
His work asks why men can touch on the pitch but not in the stands, why they are celebrated for doing things in stadiums that must otherwise be kept hidden and private.
A huge sculpture of two footballers embracing greets you as you enter the gallery, but it’s fractured and broken, only coming together as a whole when seen from a particular spot, from the artist’s height. A massive, functional post-match bath is at the centre of the exhibition, with tiles that reveal nearly-erotic imagery of players when splashed with water. The bath is flanked by printed towels and a steamy mirror.
Upstairs, a blown-up image of England’s most famous and contentious goal doubles as a glory hole, while a urinal displays jubilant footballers showering each other with champagne.
This is art about prejudice and bigotry, about belonging and community, erasure and disappearance. And communal bathing.
The show runs 17 November to 23 December at OOF Gallery, N17.