queer art to see in nyc right now
This week, many are reflecting on what it means to be queer in America. Here are five New York exhibitions to guide your exploration.
Félix González-Torres at Andrea Rosen Gallery
Though his work is shaped by his experiences as an openly gay New Yorker at the height of the AIDS epidemic, the late artist and activist's meditations on love, loss, and the continuation of life never lose their poignancy. You're most likely familiar with González-Torres' installations — his piles of brightly coloured candy that sit in the corners of major museums, or his strings of lightbulbs that descend from their ceilings. But González-Torres was also an achingly beautiful writer, and it's his use of words and chronologies that guide the three-part solo show that's presently on view at longtime gallerist Andrea Rosen's Chelsea outpost, as well as London's Hauser & Wirth and Milan's Massimo De Carlo galleries. Co-curated by Julie Ault and Roni Horn — fellow artists and friends who worked closely and in collaboration with González-Torres — the cosmically-timed show is open for the next four days, until June 18. More information here.
Nan Goldin at MoMA
"The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is the diary I let people read," Goldin wrote in the forward to her massively influential 1986 collection of photographs. The photographer's intimate documentation of her tribe includes drag queens, club rats, junkies, and youth-on-the edge in moments of light and dark — it chronicles struggle for understanding, vulnerability, and love. This weekend, the Museum of Modern Art opened a show of nearly 700 Ballad portraits in their original 35mm format, sequenced against an evocative music soundtrack. The photographs are enduring testaments to queer safe spaces, from Berlin nightclubs to Provincetown beaches. More information here.
Hilton Als at Artist's Institute
The Artist's Institute is a research and exhibition space that dedicates six-month seasons to a single contemporary artist, exploring their work through programs involving other thinkers. Presently, celebrated writer and theatre critic Hilton Als is in the midst of his self professed "emotional retrospective," which collects his writings and visual art practices. The first iteration of Als' season, One Man Show: Holly, Candy, Bobbie and the Rest, ran from March 2 - April 26 — though his writings on Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling, and the development of drag queens since the 60s are still available online and well worth the read. Presently on view is James Baldwin/Jim Brown and the Children, a collection of photos, video pieces, and writings that interface powerfully with race, gender, sexuality, and AIDS with a special focus on the life and legacy of James Baldwin. More information here.
The 1970s: The Blossoming of a Queer Enlightenment at Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
A group show at the SoHo gallery probes the liberating decade between the Stonewall Riots, in 1969, and 1980, just before the AIDS crisis permanently altered America — "an age when gay men, lesbians, and trans folk began to look inward and saw they could possibly free themselves from the social repression that had been forced on them for decades," said Museum Director Hunter O'Hanian. While the show features over 100 works in varying media, its photographs — which range from Robert Mapplethorpe's wildly controversial studio portraits to Diana Davies' documentary snaps from the front lines of New York protests — seem its most urgent now. More information here.
Jasper Briggs at Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
Alongside its archival examination of pioneering queer Americans, Leslie-Lohman lends a new view on their lives now. Legend in My Living Room, the museum's concurrent show, features Magnum Foundation Fellow Jasper Briggs' commissioned portraits of LGBTQ adults involved with SAGE, or Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders. Briggs photographed his subjects, who are between the ages of 56 and 84, in their home environments. "They have contributed to the advancement of LGBTQ rights in ways both measurable and immeasurable from serving in the military to being activists on the front lines to using their creative talents to inspire others," says SAGE Center Harlem program coordinator and the exhibition's co-curator Peter Wright. More information here.
Text Emily Manning
Rink Foto, The first large group of lesbians in the San Francisco Gay Parade, invited by Harvey Milk, 1974/2016, Gift of the artist.