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Artist Oli Rodriguez: Son seeking papi

By Jason Foumberg

Photo by Oli Rodriguez

“I am looking for men who had sex with my dad,” reads Oli Rodriguez’s ad on Craigslist and DaddyHunt. “He was known as Troy, Peter, Pedro, and other aliases in the late ’70s/’80s/early ’90s, before his death from complications of AIDS in ’93. I’m his son and I want to hook up with you.” Rodriguez posted this after finding 4,000 snapshots from his father’s social outings and Rodriguez’s own childhood.

He received only two replies from the queer men who’d attended his birthdays and holidays, but the artist, now 33, has incorporated his discoveries into The Papi Project, a work attempting to revive the memory of a lost generation. Its elements include “resurrected” symbolic objects (a wine bottle, a baby’s bottle) created with a 3-D printer and images of his father’s old cruising grounds (“spaces of infection”) shot on expired film with a vintage tourist camera. The outcome is subtly haunting. 

Through April 26 at Roots & Culture in Chicago; May 2–22 at the Chicago Artists Coalition

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