spaces of desire
^ Barcelona Dark Rooms, 2007 by Pol Esteve Castello & Marc Navarro Fornós. Courtesy: the authors.
This plan atlas compiles 15 typologies of dark rooms in Barcelona for anonymous male sexual encounters, where fantasy and real pleasure operate in constant negotiation. Researched by Pol Esteve Castello & Marc Navarro Fornós (2007), the plans of these barely furnished homes include structural elements with semantic relevance for collective ecstasy. The audacity of revealing the otherwise invisible plans, for outsiders as well as for insiders, plays with the irony of an intentional desecration. Darkness is mapped here through the exact location of light spots and TV monitors screening porn movies. The intricate partitions (panels, columns, corners…) and elaborate width of each opening (aisles, thresholds, glory holes…) are the basic elements defining these labyrinthine liminal spaces of desire. Holmes, O’Byrne & Gastaldo (Setting the space for sex, 2007) define them as refusing ‘to function in and be part of what Deleuze (1992) calls “societies of control”. Public gay sex spaces, such as parks, alleys, restrooms, rest stops, adult theatres, video arcades, bookstores, bars and gay bathhouses are often thought of as being filthy and residing outside “the social”. However, it is the public nature of the location and its on-site sexual possibilities inextricably linked with risk that intensifies the power and pleasure of the erotic encounter (Leap, 1999). […] Desire is not an “absence” (a lack of something), but a force that makes us move (Colebrook, 2002) […] To paraphrase Bataille, gay bathhouses are necessary “architectures of excess” that permit desire to free itself from the constraints of everyday life.’