Tag Archives: Douglas Crimp

ALVIN BALTROP

For [Alvin] Baltrop, who for a time lived in a van parked along New York City’s Hudson River, the waterfront was more like a second home. Looking at photographs of so many naked bodies sprawled out on the docks on a summer day, we might think we were witnessing the radical democratization of men. We can be sure that some of the waterfront pleasure seekers experienced it that way, but Baltrop was always keenly aware of the inequalities embedded in queer life and in the gay civil rights movement.Jonathan Weinberg, Pier Groups

“Although initially terrified of the piers, I began to take these photos as a voyeur [and] soon grew determined to preserve the frightening, mad, unbelievable, violent, and beautiful things that were going on at that time. To get certain shots, I hung from the ceilings of several warehouses utilizing a makeshift harness, watching and waiting for hours to record the lives that these people led (friends, acquaintances, and strangers), and the unfortunate ends that they sometimes met…

“The casual sex and nonchalant narcotizing, the creation of artwork and music, sunbathing, dancing, merrymaking, and the like habitually gave way to muggings, callous yet detached violence, rape, suicide, and, in some instances, murder. The rapid emergence and expansion of AIDS in the 1980s further reduced the number of people going to and living at the piers, and the sporadic joys that could be found there.” — Alvin Baltrop*

[Baltrop] photographed constantly at the Hudson River piers from 1975 to 1986, and the thousands of negatives from that project constitute his chief photographic legacy. He risked much to work there. In order to spend more time at the piers, he gave up his job as a taxi driver and became a self-employed mover. Often he stayed for days on end, living out of his moving van parked nearby. In spite of the remarkable documentary and aesthetic value of what he accomplished, Baltrop was almost completely unsuccessful at getting his work exhibited during his lifetime.Douglas Crimp

The Bronx Museum show THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ALVIN BALTROP features over 200 photographs as well as the first public exhibition of Baltrop’s personal archive. The show was curated by Sergio Bessa, and a catalog is available from Skira.

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ALVIN BALTROP

Through February 9, 2020.

Bronx Museum of the Arts

1040 Grand Concourse, The Bronx.

*Alvin Baltrop, manuscript for Ashes from a Flame: Photographs by Alvin Baltrop, edited by Randal Wilcox.

See Ed Halter on Baltrop.

Alvin Baltrop, from top: The Piers (Man Sitting and Smoking), circa1975–1986, gelatin silver print; The Piers (Collapsed Warehouse), circa 1975–1986; The Piers, circa 1975–1986; The Piers (Male Drinking with Cigarette), circa 1975-1986; The Piers, circa 1975–1986; The Piers (Man from Behind), 1977–1978, silver gelatin print; The Piers (exterior view of Day’s End), 1975-8; Pier 52 (Gordon Matta-Clark’s Day’s End), 1975–1986, silver gelatin print, Bronx Museum of the Arts permanent collection; The Piers (4), circa 1975–1986; The Piers (Open Window), circa 1975-86. Images courtesy and © the Alvin Baltrop Trust, Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York, Bronx Museum of the Arts, and Third Streaming, New York.

DOUGLAS CRIMP

Douglas Crimp—art historian, essayist, educator, author (Before Pictures), editor (October, throughout the 1980s), curator (Pictures)—died this morning in New York City.

“[In Before Pictures] I was interested in putting together two aspects of my life that were fairly difficult to negotiate in my first decade in New York—my art-world self and my gay-world self—at a time when both those worlds were highly experimental. I experienced innovation, experimentation, and transformation in the queer world and the art world simultaneously but mostly separately. I had to figure out how to make my two worlds, if not cohere, at least not be absolutely in conflict. My hope for Before Pictures is that it will provide a ‘queer history’ of both these worlds by putting them in conversation. I expect it might change how we think of 1970s gay culture, which we know mostly from the work of historians who write about the flourishing of gay politics. It might also change how we think about the art world of the ’70s.

“I had several different motivations for writing the book. One is that, in my ACT UP days, I made a whole bunch of younger friends, people mostly twenty years younger than me. I experienced the extraordinary explosion of gay culture during the 1970s, but they didn’t. I talked about it, they asked me about it, and on a couple occasions people said, you should really write about the gay ’70s in New York. That is not only because of their interest in what I was saying but because we were all horrified by the new narrative that was being put in place by gay conservatives. This narrative held that the ’70s represented our immaturity, an immaturity that led inevitably to AIDS, which in turn made us grow up and mature, become good citizens who wanted to get married and settle down and behave ourselves. I opposed that narrative in all of my AIDS writing.” — Douglas Crimp, interview by Jarrett Earnest*

“It has always seemed to me, given what little I understand or have experienced of seeking sexual partners over the internet, that people not only advertise who they want to appear as, but also believe they truly know who they are and what they want. What I took from the gay liberation ethos was that we didn’t know who we were and we didn’t necessarily know what we wanted. Instead, we felt we should be open to everything, even things we thought we didn’t want, which might open you to partners of different races, to differently abled partners, and certainly to people with different sexual proclivities. I tried many things that frankly I was quite repelled by, but I was just being a good liberationist, thinking, ‘OK, I can’t say, No, I don’t do that, or That’s not who I am.’ I didn’t necessarily seek such things out a second time, but I often surprised myself. I guess that would be my question to you: How much do you surprise yourself?

“My experience of diversity and of racial discourses was all in my queer life, not in my art world life. The latter was a very white world, no question. There only began to be a consciousness about the paucity of women artists and numbers of black artists in the Whitney Biennials around that time. We’ve moved some from there. It was also the time when the Museo del Barrio was founded as a response to the lack of diversity in the mainstream art world. But I would have had to go pretty far afield from my own activities and experience to bring that stuff in. So it really came in terms of my other life, essentially. I experienced that as just one of the really big differences between the kind of people I knew in the art world and the kind of people I knew in the queer world…

“The interdisciplinary or hybrid quality of the memoir flows from that juxtaposition that started with the first chapter, in which I discuss what I call ‘my two first jobs,’ haute couture with Charles James and conceptual art with Daniel Buren at the Guggenheim; two seemingly incommensurate things, I use that sort of incommensurability throughout as a means through which to interrogate both sides. I do this in the chapter about [George] Balanchine and  [Jacques] Derrida, for example. The idea was that juxtaposing the gay world and the art world would unsettle the standard narratives of each and then come up with a different kind of history of both. I’m hoping that is what the book accomplishes. It’s a history of New York in the 70s, it’s a very personal history, but I think it is also a broader history.” — Douglas Crimp, interview by Malik Gaines**

See Crimp on Trisha Brown.

See David Velasco on Crimp.

*”Douglas Crimp with Jarrett Earnest,” Brooklyn Rail, 2016; reprinted in Jarrett Earnest, What it Means to Write About Art (New York: David Zwirner Books, 2018), 102–118.

**”Conversations: Douglas Crimp and Malik Gaines,” Document 9 (Fall-Winter 2016): 130–133.

From top: Douglas Crimp in the 1970s; book covers, MIT Press (2); Crimp in his loft on Chambers Street, downtown Manhattan, circa 1975; book covers, MIT Press (2); Crimp (right) and Daniel S. Palmer in New York City, 2016, photograph by Katherine McMahon; book cover University of Chicago Press and Dancing Foxes Press; Pictures exhibition catalog, Artists Space, 1977. Images courtesy and © the author’s estate, the photographers, and the publishers.

FIRE AT BABY COMPANY

“Every time I enter a new room I scan for other queers. Maybe it’s a hunt for fleeting solidarity, maybe safety—not that the two are opposed. I didn’t know I did this until I didn’t have to, when I arrived in a place—[Fire Island]—where queer and its variants was the baseline. It is a profound experience, one I will never take for granted, even as I know the exclusions it enacts.

“This is a very personal show, in the sense that it has no pretensions of thoroughness or coherence. A series of friendships and encounters organized around a shared experience of finding one’s place. Just some people inhabiting a tiny speck of the world and—to borrow a phrase by Douglas Crimp, another friend from the island—misfitting together.” — Ryan McNamara*

McNamara brings Fire Island to Manhattan with a new exhibition of work by Travis BoyerJack BruscaTM DavyRaúl de NievesNicole EisenmanK8 HardyKia LabeijaMatthew LeifheitHanna LidenTiffany MalakootiSamuel RoeckPaul Mpagi SepuyaDevan ShimoyamaA.L. SteinerWolfgang TillmansCajsa von Zeipel, and himself.

FIRE*

Through April 14.

Baby Company

73 Allen Street, New York City.

*”Misfitting together” is a quote from Popism: The Warhol Sixties, by Andy Warhol and Pat Hackett (1980), referenced by Douglas Crimp in his book “Our Kind of Movie”: The Films of Andy Warhol (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012), 157, note 29:

“I [Warhol] was reflecting that most people thought the Factory was a place where everybody had the same attitudes about everything; the truth was, we were all odds-and-ends misfits, somehow misfitting together.”

From top: Ryan McNamara, Cemical Compound (6/8/2018), 2019, wood, plaster, paint, psilocybin, amyl nitrate, gamma-hydroxybutyrate, Truvada; Wolfgang Tillmans, Far away inside (Echo Beach), 2017, inkjet print; Matthew Leifheit; Meat Rack Gathering, 2018, dye sublimation print on aluminum; Nicole Eisenman and Tiffany Malakooti, Remarkable Lesbian Chess Set, 2016, clay, wood, and paint; A.L. Steiner, Untitled (Rachel on bay, Pines), 2016–2019; Fire installation view with K8 Hardy‘s jockstrap collection—Look Pines, 2016, fiberglass mannequin, metal base, cloth, enamel paint, synthetic wig—in foreground; Devan Shimoyama, Untitled, 2015–2018, dye-sublimation print on aluminum (2); Cajsa von Zeipel, Boy’s Tears, 2019, styrofoam, fiberglass, aqua resin, plaster; Travis Boyer, Le Fountain, 2019, embellished and dyed wool blanket on beeswax, wood, and steel frame; Jack Brusca, Pines Pavilion Logo, 1980, acrylic on canvas; Kia LaBeija, New Legend Lucky 007 on Fire Island, 2018, digital inkjet print.

INGA LĀCE AT LAXART

Inga Lāce—a curator from Riga whose practice connects the art/historical with the social/political—will give a talk at LAXART this week and present AMERICA IS NOT READY FOR THIS, the artist Karol Radziszewski’s 2012 film that takes as its starting point the 1977 trip Natalia LL made to New York City.

“Radziszewski revives Natalia LL’s memories, confronting both Polish and Western narratives of art history and raising a series of questions on issues such as gender, feminist art, conceptual art, and queer and East-West relations and their impact on the art world in the context of the period of the Iron Curtain.

“The film is both a search for parallels between the artistic experiences of Natalia LL and Radziszewski, as well as an attempt to examine the rules governing the positioning of artists in the art world, both in the 1970s and today.”*

Included in the film are interviews with Carolee SchneemannVito Acconci, AA Bronson, Douglas Crimp, Antonio Homem, and Mario Montez.

CURATORIAL TALK AND FILM SCREENING WITH INGA LĀCE*

Wednesday, November 7, from 6 pm to 8 pm.

LAXART

7000 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood.

Top: Inga Lāce. Image credit: LAXART.

Above: Karol Radziszewski, America is Not Ready for This material.

Below: Karol Radziszewski, Karol and Natalia LL, 2011. Image credit: Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw.

CRAIG OWENS LAUNCH AND PANEL

A newly edited and updated version of Craig Owens’ 1984 interview with Lyn Blumenthal and Kate Horsfield has been published by Badlands Unlimited.

Join Lynne Tillman, Thomas Beard, and Horsfield for CRAIG OWENS—PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG CRITIC, a book launch and panel discussion with Paul Chan and Johanna Burton at the New Museum.

Owens (1950–1990) was an associate editor at October and a senior editor at Art in America. His essays are collected in Beyond RecognitionRepresentation, Power, and Culture (1994).

In his memoir Before Pictures, Douglas Crimp describes the quality of Owen’s “unrestrained intellectual enthusiasm.”:

“In many of our late-night phone calls… [Owens] would say something like, ‘I’m writing a brilliant essay on…’—on whatever it was he was working on at the moment. I was at first taken aback by his apparent immodesty, but I grew to understand and appreciate his elation at the process of his own thinking, sparked by his voracious reading.” — Douglas Crimp*

CRAIG OWENS—PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG CRITIC

Launch and panel

Friday, March 2, at 7 pm.

New Museum

235 Bowery, New York City.

* Douglas Crimp, “Agon,” in Before Pictures (Brooklyn: Dancing Foxes Press/Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), 213.

From top: Craig Owens, 1982, from the series Art World, photograph © Timothy Greenfield-SandersCraig Owens photographed by Barbara Kruger in her loft, 1988, image credit New Museum.