The Museum of Sex is presenting a new exhibition celebrating the Peruvian LGBTQ community — ‘Canon,’ “a multi-part series of photographs and sculptures” by artists Juan Jose Barboza-Gubo and Andrew Mroczek. I just saw a preview of the images that will be on display at this exhibition and it made me tear up, this work is so powerful. It’s a call to action against the violence that the LGBTQ faces in Peru. Another reminder that people like us struggle everywhere in the world.
Featured is ‘Virgenes de la Puerta’ (Virgins of the Door), “a photography series that reimagines transgender women as historical and religious icons inspired by Spanish colonial painting and 19th-century vernacular photography, such as the iconic religious imagery of Santa Rosa de Lima or the Tapada Limeña.” There’s also ‘Los Chicos’ (The Boys), in this series the boys pictured “represent an important, emerging, community within Peru’s culture. Defying patriarchal machismo and the antiquated social mores of masculinity, these young gay men have exhibited tremendous courage and tenacity by allowing themselves to be seen, publicly, as a thriving community within a slowly changing environment of acceptance.” The third series of photographs is the ‘Padre Patria’ (Fatherland), that “reveals the Peruvian landscape as spaces of evidence within the extreme, and rather common, circumstances of violent hate-crimes toward the LGBTQ community, which include rape and murder, as well as domestic violence.”
Also, the show they will premiere the video performance piece ‘Anda,’ featuring “eight gay Peruvian men in varying stages of personal or public acceptance of their sexuality.” The exhibition shows the artists’ effort to highlight the social cruelty that the Peruvian community is facing and to celebrate “the resilience, power, and beauty of their subjects.”
A conversation with the photographer about his recent book
Over the course of the last year, Argentinian photographer Lucas Castro Pardo has been making intimate portraits of men that he sleeps with. Having studied photography in Buenos Aires and then having moved to New York by way of Europe, Pardo has been able channel his life and experiences into his work. His most recent book — his second book — Eroticum is clear evidence of that. Within its pages lies a photographic diary, almost verging on documentation, of Pardo’s sexual encounters. Artful images of penises large and small, cut and uncut, but all handsome. Faces. Beautiful faces. Delicate sinews of precum.
I got to ask Lucas a few questions about his book — read his responses below.
How did this project come to be? One day I realized that I had a big collection of photographs of people I slept with, before, during or after sex. I believe my photographic work is normally very intimate, not referring only to this specific project, but in general. So was that day when I decided to photograph guys for this project and somehow reflect my struggles with sex addiction.
You mentioned that Eroticum is a photographic journal that helps you navigate through your sex addiction. Can you elaborate a bit more on this addiction? My sex addiction started when I was around 17, same time when my substance abuse issues started. It’s certainly related to the way I grew up, so we could talk a bit of psychology here. I had a very bad relationship with my family since I was a kid for several reasons that I’m not going to mention right now. …
Excerpts from our conversations with artists featured in the prolific and investigative exhibition.
On a sweltering summer day in New York, we made our way to the New Museum’s sun-filled Sky Room, where we met some of the artists featured in the museum’s upcoming exhibition Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon, an investigation of gender’s place in contemporary art and culture. We sat down with a select few of the show’s nearly 50 artists to hear their origin stories, to discuss the complexity of the exhibition’s title and to ask how our future looks from where they’re standing.
We gathered a few friends of the magazine (Matthew Leifheit, Sam Gamberg and Cyle Suesz) to photograph this group of artists in the Sky Room at the New Museum before the opening of the exhibition.
The following is from the day we spent photographing them in August, 2017.
Portrait by Matthew Leifheit
“The collage element in my work mainly came from how I would see myself as not necessarily disenfranchised but pulled in so many different directions and trying to make sense of my own double consciousness. All these different worlds I’m living in: I’m a mother. I’m an artist. I went to Yale. I’m from a poor neighborhood. I’m black. I’m queer. It’s fractured, but it makes a whole image.
I think it’s important for me to have my work in conversation with other works so that young girls, when they see these images, they can see themselves. I think the power of seeing yourself is everything — that sense of validation.”
Portrait by Sam Gamberg
JUSTIN VIVIAN BOND
“The president recently said trans people couldn’t serve in the military because he didn’t think they were lethal. …
If you’re read this week's newsletter, then you probably read last week’s as well (unless you’re a GAYLETTER newbie — welcome to the fam, fam) in which we unveiled Issue 7. If you pre-ordered Issue 7, or stopped by our booth at the NY Art Book Fair this past weekend (love you) you might have clocked the feature we published for the New Museum’s exhibition Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon. Earlier this week was the opening and let me be the first to tell you: the. show. is. fucking. amazing. It’s not to be missed and I mean that more than I’ve ever meant it before. I wanted to take the entire show home with me. Of course, I couldn’t, so I had to settle with *almost* everything. Shameless plug: you can check out our photo library now. Regarding the show itself, it encompasses 3 floors of the museum: the second, third, and fourth, while featuring upwards of 40 artists. “‘Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon’ investigates gender’s place in contemporary art and culture at a moment of political upheaval and renewed culture wars. The exhibition features an intergenerational group of artists who explore gender beyond the binary to usher in more fluid and inclusive expressions of identity.” The museum’s description is spot-on, but I maintain that you must experience it for yourself. It’s absolutely powerful.
The first exposure I ever had to Jack Pierson and his photography was GAYLETTER Issue 1. His photo on the cover was striking but in a most subtle way. The moment he caught on Eli’s face is once that I find myself falling into. So when I walked into the GL office and saw Pierson’s new photo book The Hungry Years on our cute wooden slatted coffee table, I knew I’d have to take a look.
The book’s press release is actually beautifully written so I’ll relay it to you gorgeous readers. “The Hungry Years collects the early photographs of Jack Pierson, taken throughout the 1980s — photographs that have increasingly captured the attention of the art world since they were first editioned in 1990.”
“Informed in part by his artistic emergence in the era of AIDS, Pierson’s work is moored by melancholy and introspection, yet his images are often buoyed by a celebratory aura of homoeroticism, seduction and glamour. Sometimes infused with a sly sense of humor, Pierson’s work is inherently autobiographical; often using his friends as models and referencing traditional Americana motifs, his bright yet distanced imagery reveals the undercurrents of the uncanny in the quotidian. Fueled by the poignancy of emotional experience and by the sensations of memory, obsession and absence, Pierson’s subject is ultimately, as he states, ‘hope.’”
The book itself is about 100 pages with luscious full-color images on every other page. It’s minimally designed, which focuses the reader on the images themselves; the presentation of the photos is secondary — perhaps even tertiary. …
Brooklyn-based photographer Gustavo Lopes documents Riis Beach in the midst of summer.
About an hour’s train ride from Lower Manhattan is the iconic (if not well-kept secret) Riis Beach. Named after Jacob Riis (the 19th century “muckraker” journalist and photographer), the beach is just west of Rockaway Park in Queens. At some point or another in the last century or so, Jacob Riis Park has hosted a children’s hospital, WWI naval air station, Art Deco bathhouse, and softball field. And now it’s a cute destination for a delightful day trip with your friend, boo, sibling, or self.
The first time I heard about Riis Beach was one Wednesday evening in June when Abi and I were laying out GAYLETTER’s weekly newsletter (No. 404). Upon looking for a photo to pair with that Sunday’s “Do: Riis Beach” post, Abi found this wacky photo of a guy wearing this Tina-Turner-Meets-Dragon-Ball-Z wig and said that it fit the personality of the beach perfectly. I knew I needed to see it for myself.
Last month, my best friend Ahmad and I hopped on the 2 train and headed out to Riis. If you’ve never been, the first thing you need to know is that there are two parts to it: there’s the straight side (near where the Q22 and Q35 buses drop you off) and a gay side, which is to the left, in front of the abandoned hospital. That’s where Ahmad and I went, and that’s where Ahmad met Gustavo Lopes. We just happened to go while Gustavo was documenting the beach that day. …
I’ve always been drawn to documentary photography. It’s what I studied in college and, for the most part, it’s the type of photography that I focus on in my own work. There are so many things to be said for artistically cataloging and documenting people, places, events, society, and politics in a visual way for everyone else present and future to have. Tom Bianchi is not necessarily known as a documentary photographer in the ways that Nan Goldin or the members of Magnum may be; rather, Bianchi’s approach is subtle and seemingly more un-self aware (which, in my opinion, kind of makes the work more poignant). All of this is to say that there is an upcoming talk and tour (on September 14th) by Bianchi as his exhibition FIRE ISLAND PINES: POLAROIDS 1975-1983 comes to a close. The exhibition consists of dozens of Polaroids documenting the gay community in Fire Island Pines, one of the few places that people could be openly gay in that era. In addition to the photos being “whimsical and playful,” they also “harken to the long tradition in art of celebrating the male physique.” If you’re queer, into history, and/or love artful documentary photography, this exhibition and talk with the artist is not to be missed.
Before GAYLETTER covered art duo McDermott & McGough in Issue 6, they were not known to me. Turns out, they are not known to many younger generations of art — specifically gay-art — consumers. Since discovering their work in the 90s, independent curator Alison Gingeras has championed their work; interviewing Peter for our magazine and help bring the duo’s retrospective at Dallas Contemporary to fruition. Their work has always addressed the past, and what a homosexual ideology has and could look like through painting. Having survived the many plights that have been cast upon the queer community over the last three decades, the duo has continued to produce work that is political, of course, and immersive. (Shayne Oliver got lost, nearly literally, in their “Friends of Dorothy” handknit sweater.) For their latest venture, over two decades in the making, The Oscar Wilde Temple will be available for private ceremonies, including weddings, memorials, naming services, and other celebrations, on a reservation basis. David McDermott noted, “The Temple is to be a place free of religious doctrine, honoring a watershed historical figure who pioneered the long struggle for equal rights for gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender peoples – a struggle that has intersected with our nation’s larger effort to acknowledge, accept, embrace, and draw strength from the profound diversity that makes society stronger and enriches the lives of all people.” The Temple includes a series of works by the duo, including several portraits of “martyrs” of contemporary homophobia (Alan Turing, Marsha P. Johnson, & more). This is a monumental (no pun intended) work by two of the most important gay artists working today. Do not miss your chance to see this exquisite site.
The avant-garde filmmaker premieres his private drawings
Mike Kuchar is well known for his films. John Waters cites him as his hero, which is a pretty big compliment. But he’s always been an illustrator; the work has just been more anonymous. Kuchar has always been successful in obscurity’s sense. He worked as a magazine retoucher in the 1960s and, after moving to California, became a go-to name in the then underground comic scene. While he and his brother George Kuchar are widely known film directors, Mike has always been drawing and painting, gathering attention of a much smaller audience.
Opening just last week, Anton Kern Gallery has curated an exhibition of some of Mike’s private collection on view through September. The drawings on exhibit have never been published or shown publicly before, so on the eve of his opening, Mike answered some questions I had about the works going into the premiere.
Do you believe your drawings share similar qualities to your cinema? Yes, because they come from my mind, which is creating moods and images, action and form. They are products of the same mind, and they’re libido driven.
The illustrations in the show have a perfectionist’s quality. What stylistic choices are you most attuned to when drawing? To design images and forms that excite the eye, done with competent skill and grace, so it can be appreciated on many levels… Not just sexual.
Gay artists tend to focalize phalluses for homosexual reasons, but do you believe besides masculinity and genuine homo-attraction there is another comment for work that details throbbing phalluses? …