Photographs by Jimmy DeSana
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This surreally lyrical, sexually charged book collects Jimmy DeSana’s earlier work, made from the 1970s to 1980s. For his series Suburban, DeSana staged photos of nude subjects in various evocative poses, entwined with everyday objects and lit with gel-covered tungsten lights. Rather than constructing a space, the “suburban” was a place of examining stereotypes and norms. Of this series, DeSana told Laurie Simmons, his contemporary and longtime roommate,“I don’t really think of that work as erotic. I think of the body almost as an object. I attempted to use the body but without the eroticism that some photographers use frequently. I think I de-eroticized a lot of it. Particularly in that period, but that is the way the suburbs arein a sense.”
Interest in DeSana is at a renewed high: Salon 94 represents his estate and mounted a well-received exhibition in 2012, and art and photography from the early 1980s is enjoying arenaissance across all media. There is a special interest now in queer artists and the legacy of ageneration destroyed by AIDS, with regard to contemporary photography and queer culture and Jimmy DeSana: Suburban is an essential contribution to this evolving canon.
Jimmy DeSana (born in Detroit, 1949; died in New York, 1990) was a groundbreaking photographer who was a key figure in New York’s downtown music and art scene in the 1970sand ’80s. DeSana was a frequent contributor to publications including the East Village Eye and SoHo Weekly News, as well as to the New York Rocker, photographing musicians such as Talking Heads, Debbie Harry, and Billy Idol. He exhibited at Pat Hearn Gallery, Galerie Jablonka, and at PS1, as part of the seminal 1981 exhibition New York/New Wave.
Dan Nadel (editor), founder of the Grammy Award-winning publishing company Picture Box, has authored books including Art Out of Time: Unknown Comic Visionaries, 1900–1969 (2006) and Gary Panter (2008), as well as curated exhibitions such as What Nerve! AlternativeFigures in American Art: 1960 to the Present (2014–15) and Return of the Repressed: Destroy All Monsters 1973–1977 (2011). Nadel is the key accounts sales director of Artbook | D.A.P.
Laurie Simmons (memoir and editor) is an artist represented by Salon 94, New York, who has exhibited internationally at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. She will be the subject of a one-woman show at the Jewish Museum, New York, in spring 2015.Elisabeth Sussman (essay) is the Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She cocurated William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographsand Video, 1961–2008, which toured internationally. Sussman was also a curator for the 2012 Whitney Biennial.