Real Problems, as an exhibition, came out of a fascination with portraying Atmus in scenes of peril or faux violence. Enacting these morbid fantasies felt like catharsis for my anxieties. Dark humor given through a mask of fiction lets me ruminate on issues that would be too painful to look at directly.
These works, in figure and scenario, underline my confusion around what is considered “real” and what is “fake.” Atmus is not a real deer, but neither could he be called a fake version of anything; he was made up by me to be whatever I want, and therefore must be authentic. It is by this same logic that I consider the works in this exhibition; what does all this faux violence amount to? Might there be a way out of from the crisis-loop of the real through play in the faked?
It is not happenstance that the persona in my works is un-human—a deer, a cartoon, a character. Part of the ecstasy of becoming Atmus for me is forgetting—even for just a bit—my place in the seemingly ruined state of humanity. Or, more than forgetting, it is imagining that there might be something different than the here and now.
Tommy Bruce is an artist residing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he is a student in the MFA Photography program at University of New Mexico. His work centers on the exploration of identity in contemporary culture through work with the Furry community. He was born in State College, Pennsylvania and received his BFA in Photography from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2014.