The Musings of a Boho Girl

bōˈhēmēən (noun) 1. a free spirit ; 2. a writer; 3. an explorer of the Avant-Garde.

Tag: Peter Hujar

Spring Reading

Embed from Getty Images

 

Dear Readers, happy April! It’s been months since my last post, I’ve been busy with queries, manuscript requests, job applications and interviews. The good news is we survived winter, which is no small feat. Spring will be fantastic. There’s much to look forward to so I’m writing about my five loves this spring.

Lorna Simpson’s exhibition at Hauser & Wirth in London began March 1st and ends April 28th. “Unanswerable” features Simpson’s most recent work, which includes themes of identity and gender. She’s a renowned artist, I can’t possibly imagine missing this exhibit if I were in London. I first saw Simpson’s work at the MoMA when I was a student, she’s remarkable. You can read the interview that Simpson did with Bomb Magazine here. Details on the exhibit are here.

For those of us stateside, the Morgan Library has an extensive collection of Peter Hujar’s photographs on display until May 20th. Hujar is well known for capturing significant figures and moments the East Village. He made a subculture that wasn’t visible to mainstream society relevant. Here are the details on Peter Hujar: Speed of Life.

The Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition, David Bowie is. It’s on until July 15th. If you’re planning a trip to NYC this spring or summer make sure to include a trip to the Brooklyn Museum.

Deborah Levy. Her new book, The Cost of Living is out in the UK. If you’re in the USA, I recommend revisiting Things I Don’t Want to Know until her most recent book is released in the US. You could always order The Cost of Living directly from the UK but international shipping fees can be rather pricey. Here is the link to Foyles.

A Public Space. It’s one of my favorite literary magazines. The founder, Brigid Hughes is the former executive editor of The Paris Review. I’m impressed by the art in each issue. It’s published quarterly and definitely worth reading. You can subscribe here.

Happy Reading, everyone!

Out of Print Books

Embed from Getty Images

These objects are nearly impossible to find, and if found, they are almost always financially out of reach for the average customer; out of print books hinder numerous possibilities. Discovering an artist’s work is a journey, one wants to start at the beginning and follow his or her entire body of work; seeing how the artist has evolved is an essential part of understanding him or her. When a photographer’s first book is out of print, his or her audience is left with a fragmented history of their work.

Embed from Getty Images

Peter Hujar’s Portraits in Life and Death was published in 1976, that’s well before his current audience was born. Consider how Hujar’s photography influenced the field, his stark black and white portraits admired for their intimate style. Portraits in Life and Death is the only book Hujar was alive to oversee, we can see each image in the order that he intended. Isn’t that how we should see art? Shouldn’t we have the chance to look at a time that doesn’t belong to us and see the world through the artist’s eyes?

In this case, the photographer has not been forgotten; in fact Peter Hujar’s Night is being exhibited in Cologne, Germany right now. My friend travelled from Amsterdam to see it. There are retrospectives in New York, San Francisco and across Europe. Hujar’s work is revered all over the world. Portraits in Life and Death is in demand, so why not reprint it? Seeing Hujar’s work is possible but visiting galleries in New York City and San Francisco isn’t a possibility for everyone, some of his audience will have to be content with his books. Shouldn’t those people have an opportunity to trace the haunting themes of time and death that permeate through Hujar’s work?

Embed from Getty Images

Arts education is severely underfunded, especially in the public education system and most students are only taught an overview, they are left to explore artists on their own time. Photographers like Peter Hujar and Diane Arbus are routinely overlooked in curriculums; those students eager to learn more may not have access to Hujar’s book. Portraits in Life and Death is one book that would provide a more comprehensive examination of Hujar’s photography.

I learned of Hujar as a teenager and then in greater depth at university while studying cityscapes photography. They told a complicated story…a story of a city decaying… a disappearing landscape. Maybe I saw traces of sadness, but I couldn’t fully see Hujar. I wanted to. I’ve been chasing Hujar’s ghost for years, always wanting to see more of his work. This search led me to The Stedelijk in Amsterdam just to see Divine from Portraits in Life and Death.

Time and place: those ephemeral qualities that Peter Hujar captures in his work should reach audiences in the smallest corners of the world. One way to make that possible is keeping his books in print. It’s my hope that Stephen Koch considers reprinting Hujar’s first book. Portraits in Life and Death could find a second home with a publisher. Almost four decades have passed and there are at least two generations who never experienced Hujar’s first book. Shouldn’t we have a chance to see the world as Hujar saw it?

May: My Five Obsessions

I have fond memories of May, it’s the month of ballet recitals and theatre performances. There were dress rehearsals, performances and then it was all over. If you were critical, you thought about every step and what you could have done better; if you were content, you went on to enjoy the summer. I was critical so I spent most of May re-thinking my performance until my Summer Intensive began. Times have changed, I don’t attend student productions at NYU anymore, now there are weddings and baptisms. Before I get too nostalgic, here are the five things that I love right now.

IMG_0312

Read the rest of this entry »

The Archives: Cataloging the Dead

The intersection between illness and photography has always fascinated me. Seeing pictures of cancer patients offering the photographer a weak smile while receiving chemotherapy feels voyeuristic, we’re meant to feel something. Sadness? Hope? The point is we’re meant to feel an emotion that evokes us to do something. A visual image that reminds us one day we could be receiving chemotherapy and wouldn’t we want the best drugs possible to save our lives. The intentions vary, but there are always intentions. The photography associated with the AIDS epidemic is different, even the images from professional photographers reflect a desire to be seen. Each picture attempts to capture a vanishing body and those fleeting moments before death. In the last few days, I’ve combed through images only to realise that everyone pictured was dead; each photo became a visual obituary of the young and ailing.

Read the rest of this entry »