The leather jacket: Appropriation, rejection and the capability not to lose your head in all this. The gigantic cocks in Tom Of Finland’s three drawings are as sexually exaggerated as the leather jacket takes on the tender function of a protective uniform. As I stand in front of the drawings in „The Ballery,” a memory comes back to me: To feel more free in a cover then unrestrictedly open. It was at a dry lake in Slovenia, many years ago, that a friend took pictures of me and my girlfriend. I wear a black leather jacket, which I bought in a second-hand-shop at Nollendorfplatz, just a few blocks away from „The Ballery“. The jacket is the focus of our actions, which today look strangely familiar. In one scene we stand opposite each other, the picture being shot over my shoulder, so there is only the crack of the forehead to be seen of her. First on one side, then on the other, she presses the loose shoulder strap into the button, laughs and moves away. As I watch her leaving, I stand still. My hair is shaved up in the neck, and the stubbles make funny sounds on the leather. Later we are naked in the pictures, but they lack the smell of skin.
The memory of a smell is more aggressive than that of a picture. The smell is more direct than the picture, it pretends that nothing has passed from it. And at the same time it has no recognisable form itself: It just exudes (like the leather jacket). It is the uniformity of Tom Of Finland ́s pictures that make them capable of saving fluid phantasies. The always recognisable figures of his drawings are like comic heroes, that I live with. I can become them, imitating their superpowers. And the leather jacket is the jersey (uniform) of those unsettled desires.
Bernhard Jarosch lives in Berlin. His texts appear in the feuilleton of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in art and culture magazines such as EIKON, Die Epilog and Am Strand. He currently writes the script for a Science-Fiction-Thriller. In the film Männerfreundschaften (2018) by Rosa von Praunheim he made his debut as an actor.