Making art from evidence:Secret sex and police surveillance in the Tearoom

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Journal Article
Crime, Media, Culture: an International Journal, 2009, 5 (3), pp. 243 - 267
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In 1962, police officers concealed themselves for two weeks in a mens public toilet in Mansfield, Ohio, and filmed men performing illicit homosexual sex acts. The film footage was used to secure convictions for sodomy, and inaugurated a new form of police surveillance of homosexual public sex. In 2008, the visual artist William E. Jones screened the police footage in art galleries around the world, to both critical acclaim and public objection. This article examines the film, both as a prosecutorial artefact and an artwork, to explore what it says about public sex, police surveillance, the criminalization of homosexual practices, visual evidence, and contemporary art.
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