May 25–Oct 13, 2021

Jared Buckhiester (27), too fair-spoken man

installation view of too fair-spoken man


1. A male body hunches over some sustenance. Is it a scene of tenderness or aggression?

In isolation, the figure, one of many, clutches a provision that might sustain him: corn, soup, tea, a cigarette. A hat, a pair of boots, a vehicle indicates his position in the ranks of patriarchal power. Standing and hanging, the figures linger together, in community.

2. Jared Buckhiester’s creative process continually wrestles against the allure of masculine form as well as the trouble of masculinizing form in order to exist within paternalizing social hierarchies.

These new forms reckon with such "comeliness and power, always attractive in masculine conjunction," which Herman Melville attributed to the archetypal Handsome Sailor in his novella Billy Budd- an anchor for the contours made from charcoal, clay, and camera.

3. A handsome sailor, Billy Budd-the newmade foretopman-becomes a figure of desire and envy among his shipmates; tenderness and aggression both order and disorder the hierarchal relations at play aboard the ship. Set in 1797, the novella (unfinished upon Melville’s passing) takes place prior to the first recorded usage of the word homosexual: 1891 (the year of Melville’s passing).

A "too fair-spoken man" (the euphemism for a sacrilegious--by default, queer--character), the ship’s master-at-arms is particularly disordered by desire and envy for Budd, and his aggression ultimately catalyzes the dissolution of the ship’s patriarchal order along with its semblance of community.

4. "Is men’s desire for other men the great preservative of the masculinist hierarchies of Western culture, or is it among the most potent of threats against them?" Eve Kosofsky Sedwick asks in a chapter of 1990’s Epistemology of the Closet that unpacks Billy Budd.

Buckhiester’s practice, as Sedgwick writes of Billy Budd, poses this question frontally: too fair-spoken man questions whether desire and envy in isolation- whether tenderness and aggression in company- orders or disorders patriarchy.

Similarly, Sedgwick asks: "What are the operations necessary to deploy male-male desire as the glue rather than as the solvent of a hierarchal male disciplinary order?"

Buckhiester disarms those masculinist hierarchies of disciplinary order altogether and, in the resulting power vacuum, deploys the queerness of tenderness as an adhesive, an equanimity, an equitability.

5. Would these lifelike figures desire or envy one another, if indeed they were alive?

(Would they know the euphemisms for queerness?)

They’re forms embodied by desire itself; they exist because Buckhiester expertly conjured their realistic and ghostly contours out of the very desire to conjure- to create a solvent for patriarchal aggression- the preservative of tenderness. An absence of isolation. Community.
-Zachary Pace Fishers Island, April/May 2021
Zachary Pace is a writer and editor who lives in Brooklyn

Image Checklist

Documentation of His duty he always faithfully did
Documentation of Knowledge, Ignorance; Natural, Unnatural (Corn)
Documentation of Knowledge, Ignorance, Natural, Unnatural (snake)
Documentation of Across the river of creeping vines
Documentation of Our new-made foretopman
Documentation of Set your hounds and wolves on me
Documentation of The king flower of his flock (cigarette)
Documentation of The king flower of his flock (soup)



Jared Buckhiester is an artist living and working in New York City. He has a BFA in photo from Pratt and an MFA in Sculpture from Bard College. He makes everything but painting, combining biographical psychosexual material with larger social and political narratives that often point toward a culminating violence. Buckhiester has had exhibitions at Envoy Enterprises; Feature Inc.; Gallerie Du Jour, Paris; Thomas Rehbein, Cologne; and at The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in Lille France. Jared has been the recipient of awards from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, The Albert K Murray Foundation, and The Dedalus Foundation for the Arts.