James Franco Welcomes You to Gay Town
James Franco’s face—usually found in Gucci ads, movies, and plastered across celebrity-gossip sites—is seen everywhere in Gay Town, his second solo show in Berlin with the Peres Projects gallery. A veritable self-portrait, the multimedia installation responds to obsession with celebrity. And thanks to his position as, well, a celebrity, Franco offers a unique, insider perspective on fandom and stardom in what seems like an attempt to turn Hollywood stereotypes on their heads. Take, for instance, the collection of five hundred rugs Franco presents, many covered with screenshots of fans’ blogs, gossip sites, and Huffington Post slams of his social life, sex life, and intellectual pursuits. Franco scrawls defensive notes all over these images. “To make a self-portrait of my public persona, instead of me in my bedroom, is to make my art about something larger,” said Franco. There’s even a lo-fi video enactment of one fan’s slash-fiction fantasies of Franco having sex with Spider-Man and prison inmates. Indeed, if anyone is qualified to comment on obsessive celebrity culture, it’s Mr. Franco. One of his rugs reads, “Cindy Sherman is not recognized at her own show.” Something tells us that, for better or worse, the actor-cum-artist doesn’t have that problem.
Gay Town is on view at Peres Projects in Berlin through March 9.
—Ana Finel Honigman