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From Stonewall to AIDS, Framing Queer Desire

A recent forum at MoMA reveals a rich, often-overlooked thread of queer history and photography.

Arthur de Silva, 1988

George Dureau, Arthur de Silva, 1988, from George Dureau, The Photographs © George Dureau and courtesy Arthur Roger Gallery and Higher Pictures

Earl Leavell

George Dureau, Earl Leavell, 1977, from George Dureau, The Photographs (Aperture, 2016)
© George Dureau and courtesy Arthur Roger Gallery and Higher Pictures

Roosevelt Singleton

George Dureau, Roosevelt Singleton, 1974, from George Dureau, The Photographs (Aperture, 2016)
© George Dureau and courtesy Arthur Roger Gallery and Higher Pictures

Fred Temnel

George Dureau, Fred Temnel, 1976, from George Dureau, The Photographs (Aperture, 2016)
© George Dureau, Courtesy Arthur Roger Gallery and Higher Pictures

JimmyDeSana_1

Jimmy DeSana, Storage Boxes, 1980. From Jimmy DeSana: Suburban (Aperture/Salon 94, 2015)
© and courtesy the Jimmy DeSana Estate/Salon 94

JimmyDeSana_9

Jimmy DeSana, Four Legs with Shoes, ca. 1980, from Jimmy DeSana: Suburban (Aperture/Salon 94, 2015)
© and courtesy the Jimmy DeSana Estate/Salon 94

JimmyDeSana_10

Jimmy DeSana, Thimbles, 1983, from Jimmy DeSana: Suburban (Aperture/Salon 94, 2015)
© and courtesy the Jimmy DeSana Estate/Salon 94

WOJ_091_Untitled-face in dirt

David Wojnarowicz, Untitled (face in dirt), 1990, from Brush Fires in the Social Landscape, photographs by David Wojnarowicz (Aperture, 2015)
© the Estate of David Wojnarowicz, Courtesy P.P.O.W. Gallery, New York

WOJ_040_AR_subway

David Wojnarowicz, Arthur Rimbaud in New York (on subway), 1978-79, from Brush Fires in the Social Landscape, photographs by David Wojnarowicz (Aperture, 2015)
© the Estate of David Wojnarowicz, Courtesy P.P.O.W. Gallery, New York

WOJ_087_Vague Nausea

David Wojnarowicz, I Feel a Vague Nausea, 1990, from Brush Fires in the Social Landscape, photographs by David Wojnarowicz (Aperture, 2015)
© The Estate of David Wojnarowicz and courtesy P.P.O.W Gallery, New York

Between the Stonewall riots of 1969 and the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1990s, what did queer desire look like in photography? In September, the Museum of Modern Art convened a Forum on Contemporary Photography focused on the homoerotic trajectory across two decades of rebellion, liberation, and activism. “Photography has played a central role in the articulation of queer desire,” said Chris Boot, executive director of Aperture Foundation. In his presentation at the forum, which also included panelists Vince Aletti, Philip Gefter, Sophie Hackett, and Lyle Ashton Harris, Boot discussed the work of American and British photographers who pushed the boundaries of representing queer lives and bodies.

“Looking back on the period between Stonewall and the onset of AIDS, we can see how particular photographers shaped a visual language that has become part of the vocabulary of male queer identity,” Boot recalled. “It’s is a thread of photo history we’ve looked at through a series of publications at Aperture—books by and about David Wojnarowicz, Jimmy DeSana, and George Dureau, and with a survey of the work of Peter Hujar coming out next spring. The discussion at MoMA revealed just how rich the subject is, and notwithstanding the attention that Mapplethorpe’s work is getting at the moment, how much there is still to be done.”

Click here to watch a video of the MoMA Forum, recorded on September 15, 2016.

George Dureau, The Photographs

George Dureau, The Photographs

George Dureau, The Photographs is an album of the great photographic portraits made throughout the forty years of Dureau’s artistic career—a New Orleans romance between the photographer and his subjects.
$60.00

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