August 9, 2010

alvin baltrop

Alvin Baltop was my total fave from exhibition: Mixed Use, Manhattan: Photography and Related Practices 1970s to the present.  I remember the artforum piece on him, but hadn't seen the photos up close....this show was massive.....there was LOTS of Alvin's work. Alvin photographed the 'late night artworks' in and around the now gone West Side Piers in Manhattan (c. 1970s)  View an amazing interview of AA Bronson about Alvin here -- DARK tab on website.


At the age of 26, Alvin Baltrop began photographing what was going on at Manhattan's West Side piers. The area, full of abandoned warehouses and dilapidated industrial piers, became a temporary home for queer teenage runaways and a cruising spot for gay men. It was a place that was under the radar. People went there to do drugs, muggings were common and so, unfortunately, were rape, murder and suicide. Baltrop's camera captured gay public sex, the public art of muralist Tava, various unknown graffiti artists, as well as pieces by David Wojnarowicz, who also visited the piers. Baltrop documented homelessness, death and the stark decay of run-down warehouses with depth and grace.
Of course, not everyone saw it that way. The mainstream art world, even the gay portion of it, couldn't see the value in Baltrop's work. Hostile reactions to his pictures were common. One curator he showed his portfolio to likened Baltrop to a sewer rat because of the content of his photos. Most art gallery owners and academic art critics could only see dirty homeless fags fucking in an abandoned warehouse, and stopped there." excerpted from article by Osa Atoe in Colorlines.

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