Like most events this year, the Tom of Finland Art & Culture Festival is going online for its 2020 installment. The 25th incarnation of the festival coincides with the centenary of the legendary gay erotica artist.
The festival is both a celebration of Touko Laaksonen's incredible contribution to pop culture and visual culture, and a vital opportunity for the queer community to come together at an unusually isolating period in history.
“As a community, we have faced so much: experiencing the devastation of HIV/AIDS, fighting the rampant censorship of how we create and express ourselves, and now maintaining connections during great social change and COVID-19,” said festival co-founder Durk Dehner. “Being able to come together at this moment is so vital for us.”
Instead of taking place at Tom of Finland House, the landmarked bungalow in Echo Park where the festival is historically held, it will take place on a custom website this year. This digital Festival, which kicks off this Friday, aims to support artists by providing them an avenue to present and sell their works.
The Festival will feature artist “booths” and virtual events throughout the weekend. Panel events include, "History of Leather and Fetish Talk with Durk Dehner and special guests" and "Overlaps: Art + Identity + Activism with Ron Athey, Cassils, and Rafa Esparza."
“This festival is not only a platform championing queer art and queer artists, but also a gathering place where all queer communities can come together,” said Rubén Esparza, Festival Coordinator and Founder of the Queer Biennial. Attendees have the chance to connect with artists, see performances, watch video installations, draw, and listen to panel discussions, and celebrate all things LGBTQ+, erotic, taboo, and fringe.
The festival runs from December 11 to 13 at tomoffinland.org/artfair.
For a deeper diver into all things Tom of Finland, read our retrospective on 100 years of power, corruption, and jizz.