Savage Love is a syndicated sex-advice column by author and activist Dan Savage. It began in 1991 in the debut issue of the Seattle alternative weekly newspaper The Stranger, and is now featured in dozens of North American, European and Asian weeklies, including NYC’s The Village Voice, the San Francisco Weekly and Toronto’s NOW magazine. Perhaps best known for repurposing the name Santorum, the column features answers to readers’ letters on a wide-range of topics including pegging, rimming, cuckolding, saddlebacking, coming out to fundamentalist parents, debunking donkey punching, and finding out your elderly father is considering a mail-order bride.
Vancouver-based artist Liz Knox has scoured the comments sections of the online archives of Savage Love and lovingly compiled a new 245-page bookwork titled Commentariat.
The comment threads were first opened on the website of The Stranger in 2008, and Knox' book presents a representative sampling of eight years worth of activity, essentially providing a snapshot of the sexual politics of the era of the Obama administration.
"I selected one or two comments per weekly column," says Knox, "...more when there were controversies, elections, scandals, etc." The text weaves a compilation of comments relating to recent political events through personal anecdotes, topical news, exuberance, and outrage.
The work is the cornerstone of a new exhibition of the same name which opens tonight at Yactac, at 855 East Hastings. Accompanying pages of the book pinned to the wall is a series of new drawings - fictional portraits of some of the online contributors.
"I made line drawings based on friends' Facebook photos, choosing to draw the friends and colleagues who I would cast to play the commenters in the movie of the book (that I would never make)."
The work continues Knox' investigation into the intersection of romance and politics that also includes her 2012 bookwork Missed Connections. Missed Connections collects personal ads from Craigslist posted during or relating to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Commentariat is available at the opening tonight, or from the artist directly, for $20, here.
Yactac @ Red Gate Arts Society
855 East Hastings Street
Opening Thursday March 23rd, 7-10pm
Exhibition runs March 24 - Apr 1
Fri & Sat, Noon - 5pm & by appointment