The queerest show currently on in London is the Aubrey Beardsley at Tate Britain. And he´s got a lot of competition: Tom of Finland at House of Illustrations; Warhol at Tate Modern; Masculinities at the Barbican. Beardley´s work includes beautiful innovative drawings, illustrations, graphic design, erotica. His work is refined and artificial, irreverent and playful, erotic and grotesque. The masculinities on display are often ridiculous, even, or particularly, at their most phallic. The genders, non-conforming. The influences ranging from Russia to Japan. The friendships include Wilde, Burne-Jones, Arthur Symons, W.B. Yeats. It´s extraordinary to think his career only spanned seven years. He died of consumption at the age of only twenty-five but his influence is extensive and wide-ranging: you´ve seen it even without knowing it (The Beatles´Revolver album). I first came across his work when Susan Sontag referred to it as an exemplar of camp in her famous essay. It is so much more than that. Beardsley is a key visual signifier of fin-de-siècle culture in Britain and to us now queer avant-la-lèttre, an ancestor to many queer currents.
Tom graduated with a degree in Film and Literature from the University of Warwick in 2007 and since then has contributed to The Guardian, The Observer, The Financial Times, The Telegraph, Wallpaper, CNN, BBC and other important newspapers and magazines. He was also the digital editor of The British Journal of Photography for several years and has recently become Senior Writer for Creative Review.
The conversation ranges from how he got into writing about photography, the experience of going to and writing about Chernobyl, how he pursued the Çağdaş Erdoğan story, and the changing cultural status of photography as well as the current ecosystem of the medium in London. We end with an extended discussion of the great Don McCullin exhibition currently on at Tate Britain, which we both urge everyone to see.