07 February 2008

Alvin Baltrop . Douglas Crimp

The cover story at ArtForum this month (February 08) is a very brief essay by my colleague Douglas Crimp on the photography of Alvin Baltrop. The essay itself is sandwiched between 10 of Baltrop's "Pier Photographs." This is an immense series of photos which he he took from the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s chronicling the lives and travails of gay men (and sometimes women) who sought sanctuary and sex amid the dangerous decrepitude of the "abandoned" piers along the lower West Side of Manhattan. Until reading the essay today I'd not heard of Baltrop, who died in 2004. The striking thing that both Baltrop's photos and Douglas's essay reveal is how the need to define and redefine oneself can lead members of marginalized populations to appropriate putatively abandoned spaces in which to do so. The piers might be viewed as landscapes of desperation or as sites of innovation and experimentation.

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Blogger mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

This essay sounds great (and the photos!) -- I'm going to look for it as soon as possible!

10 February, 2008 02:42  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Hey! I recoemmnend virtualy evrything Douglas writes. He is (1) a very good writer and (2) very smart and (3) engaged and (4) a nice fellow. That is arare combination. I use his book AIDS Demographics all the time in classes and his book of essays Melancholia and Moralism is extremely good too.

10 February, 2008 11:46  

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