Soft ground, Trevor Yeung’s new show at Gasworks, is a glimpse into the lives of those gay men who cruise parks, heaths and commons in search of sexual partners. Known for his exploration of plants and nature, in this, his first UK solo show, Yeung seeks to recreate the sights, sounds and smells of those open air nocturnal excursions as well as the sense of mystery, adventure and even danger that accompany them.
This is a truly sensory experience.The space is almost completely dark and most of your senses are on immediate alert as you wander uncertainly, feeling your way, literally groping in the dark. After a few minutes your eyes will adjust and you will find yourself amongst a forest of pillars in a dimly lit space. You will hear running water and your nostrils will get smells – real and synthetic – associated with male bodies. As your eyes become even more accustomed to the dark, you will see acorns above and below you. You will wander through the space and find yourself next to a large tree sculpted from soap – an echo of a real oak on Hampstead Heath – an unexpectedly tactile and strangely reassuring experience.
This is a world where intimate but fleeting and anonymous encounters take place between consenting adults – a largely secret world familiar to many gay men. The show is at once minimal, but loaded with sensations and experiences and you will need to give it some time. It is not a screen shot, but a journey. And its recreation is a deeply personal statement by Yeung – an honest and candid window into a world that is usually hidden.
Soft ground runs until 18 December in Gasworks, 155 Vauxhall Street, SE11 5RH. Entry is free. For further information and opening times go to www.gasworks.org.uk or call 0207 587 5202