The starting point of the exhibition is the 30th anniversary of the cancellation of the exhibition The Perfect Moment: Photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. But most importantly, it uses Glenn Ligon’s piece Notes On the Margins of the Black Book as a guide to generating critique. As the organizers explain, “From the Margins speaks to the function of critique, the authority of public reception, and the spectacularization of an artist into a mythos.” Ligon, who did the artwork as an answer to the Mapplethorpe’s infamous The Black Book, where he portrayed nude different black male bodies, wanted to sort out the effect these images of black masculinity had on him as well as on others.
Now, the Gallery 102 presents the works of various queer artists also exploring notions such as representation, identity or queerness. For example, Naima Green’s Pur·suit series of card-sized portraits of womxn, trans, non-binary and gender-nonconforming people reflect on the experiences of present-day of queer people. On another hand, Gerardo Vizmanos’ and Florian Hetz’s photographs explore themes such as anonymity, the body, homoeroticism or censorship. There are as well artists like Stanley Stellar, who’s been portraying hundreds of male New Yorkers for forty years. Intimacy and portraiture are common themes as well in the works of Shen Wei or Paul Mpagi Sepuya, each exploring those concepts from their own unique lens.