Vincent Tiley: A Body Without Organization


On Friday, December 16, 2022, the author of this article, Efrem Zelony-Mindell, was arrested and charged by the FBI for the attempted enticement of one minor boy in Manhattan, New York, and possession and distribution of child pornography. I mean, Jesus Christ. The case is so viscerally revolting that we can barely read it ourselves, given we thought we knew this person. So, we here at Filthy Dreams were faced with a decision: What are we supposed to do?! Pretend this never happened?! Delete all the articles? That felt cowardly and not exposing how he was able to embed himself into the arts community. So we’re adding this warning to the articles because it also didn’t feel right to ignore it completely:

Vincent Tiley, The Velveteen Faggot, 2016, aluminum with velvet biker jacket with studs (Photo: Fred Attenborough; Courtesy of the artist)

The body fits into its adornments; it is capable of more than its physicality. In Vincent Tiley’s art, the figure is not merely carnal. The potential of visual art is woven into the actions and implications of anatomy. Movement is an interconnected gesture to Tiley’s expression. Individuals are sculptural–they are not simply themselves, but they are draped and sewn into layers of paillettes and plaid. Hardware like hooks and rings link performers together. Breath behind a fabric hood shivers. Encased in Tiley’s assemblage, everything becomes an extension of the self. Even when a body is not present, it is implicated–in bondage and paint, in the simplicity of a jacket that represents its protections and proclamations. Everything for the body and of the body makes its way into the work. Reinterpretations recreate the ideas associated with the figure and through actions and display, as Tiley would say, “The performance creates the myth and story of the works’ narrative.”

Vincent Tiley, collaboration with Chris Habana, Scorpions, 2017, brass and leather, 2 hr performance with Jerome AB, Forrest Wu and Ash Yergens (Photo: Bryson Rand; Courtesy the artist)

“I taught myself out of spite how to sew,” explains Tiley. Defiance is completely innate in his work. Its wonder and desire for exploration is captivating. The action, bodies, suits, and parts provide the answers of his works. There is no amount of scaffolding that he could assign from an outside source that would provide more significant qualifications or meanings. The works are free form–dancing and laying, living and breathing. Somehow you want to be inside. Touch and thought in a wrangle of improvised choreography. Garments describe the form and in-between, there is a space that the body collages. Tiley’s work is all-around, in atmosphere and peculiarity. Queerness is inside the figure, but it also garnishes the anatomy. The play of an object, like a velveteen rabbit who wants to become real, is one of melancholy and curiosity. What is a life? It may seem like a silly question, but the wonder of how we remove ourselves so as to connect to the world around us is flush in these works.

Vincent Tiley, Copperhead, 2017, acrylic, tempera, spray paint and rope on silk velvet over foam (Photo: Fred Attenborough; Courtesy the artist)

The human is a sacrifice. In a strange and poignant way, Tiley takes the body of an Adonis and murders it in space–not with death or machines, but with the removal of specificity. The threads of attire hold meanings and signifiers. Layers of paint on wear and costume catch the eye of intimacy and a queer history that is not yet institutionalized. “Vague is interesting to me,” Tiley admits. His works are constructions that need filling and form with the thoughts of viewers. What history doesn’t want you to know is indebted in the possibilities of Tiley’s work. “Bondage is off-the-loom weaving or gay macramé,” he describes. There is a huge amount of play that is not lost in the works, whether they are performance or objects hanging on walls. The excitement of anxiety and what could possibly happen next ignites joy and eagerness in an extremely tangible, literal, and plausible way. Though the works may seem like formal attire from extraterrestrial planets or the egg sacks of alien races, there is always something incredibly relatable and familiar in them.

Vincent Tiley, Blue Zombie, 2017, 3hr performance (Photo: Justin Wonnacott; Courtesy the artist)

There is sadness, regret, and loss in this world. There are feelings and forces that can consume with the frightening and complacent. Remembering to be young is important. Not blithely uninformed, but young in inquisition and exploration. History is beautiful and rich. Together the old and the present will fill what comes next. You have to be in a body at all times, but the self of that body can be liberated. A body without organization is free to represent more. A body embraced by disorganization, whether it is literal or implicated, sheds light on interconnectedness. Sometimes who you are is totally unimportant. Vincent Tiley reimagines the boundaries of identity. Experimentation allows him to stay away from strict labels, and through the collaborations of others, the entire process of his practice becomes symbiotic. Tiley allows the recognizable to be renewed.

Vincent Tiley, The Past Three Nights, 2016, 3hr performance with painting, chair and body suits (Courtesy the artist)

Vincent Tiley, Cottonmouth, 2017, rope, chain and vinyl on satin and linen over foam (Photo: Fred Attenborough; Courtesy of the artist)

Vincent TIley, Sleepyhead Sweetie, 3 hr performance in painted and digitally printed bodysuit with painted defective air mattress (Photo: Lucas Blair; Courtesy the artist)

Leave a Reply