William Freeman – you can’t hold an angel is an exhibition by Chilean artist and dissident Pablo Andres (b. 1985), who is currently seeking asylum in Denmark.
The exhibition takes a closer look at conditions for LGBTQ asylum seekers from the Global South and maps the artist’s encounter with homophobia in the Danish asylum process and with racism in the Western gay community.
The exhibition takes a closer look at conditions for LGBTQ asylum seekers from the Global South, who flee to the West thinking that there is freedom and safety for gender and sexual minorities there. The exhibition revolves around the queer figure William Freeman (William the free man), who in the photo series William Freeman, you can’t hold an angel (2017) jumps out the window of his room in the asylum center wearing only tights and a set of black angel wings.
The series brings to mind Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographic documentation of the male figure and queer life in 1970s and 1980s New York City and leaves it up to the viewer to decide whether William is about to commit suicide or if he is showing a way out of the asylum camp’s hell.
With photography, video, collage, and objects, Andres examines how vulnerable queer men from the Global South are lured to the West by idealized representations of the West as ’queer Heaven,’ only to find a refugee politics that does not always grant them protection and a LGBTQ community where colored queer men often encounter sexual racism from white queer men.