New York University’s Kimmel Center will display Last Address, an exhibition eulogizing a generation of New York City artists who died of AIDS, by the New York-based brother and sister filmmakers Ira Sachs and Lynne Sachs, with designer Bernhard Blythe, Sofia Gallísa, and Andrei Alupului. The exhibition, comprising 13 translucent, color photographs (67 x 42 in.) will be installed on the exterior of the Kimmel Windows Gallery, located at La Guardia Place & West 3rd St. Last Address will open April 9 and remain on view through May 31, 2010.
The list of New York artists who died of AIDS over the last 30 years is overwhelming, and the loss immeasurable, asserts the filmmakers. Last Address uses photographs of the exteriors of the houses, apartment buildings, and lofts where 18 of these artists—Patrick Angus, Reinaldo Arenas, John D. Brockmeyer, Howard Brookner, Ethyl Eichelberger, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Keith Haring, Hibiscus, Peter Hujar, Harry Kondoleon, Charles Ludlum, Jim Lyons, Robert Mapplethorpe, Cookie Mueller, Vito Russo, Assotto Saint, Ron Vawter, and David Wojnarowicz—were living at the time of their deaths to mark the disappearance of a generation. The installation is a remembrance of that loss, as well as an evocation of the continued presence of these artists’ work in the city’s culture.
“I moved to this city in 1984 and now that I’m in my 40s, I realize even more how I’ve had so few models for how to live a creative life as a gay man,” said Ira Sachs. “I’m winging it, on my own. So many of the men I might have learned from, read about in the papers, seen in the streets, met in a bar, at the theater, died from AIDS in the years before I might have known them. I was a kid. It seemed like it would last forever, but then it was all gone. I wish they were here.”
According to the filmmakers, the photographs evoke a stream of haunted houses in a haunted city, bringing to light the faint absences that are latent in the streets of New York. As the viewer moves closer, the windows will also reveal biographical and professional information that offers a greater sense of the life interrupted. The display is a companion piece to Ira Sachs’ short film, Last Address, which premiered at this year’s Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals. The film—and now the Kimmel Center Windows Gallery display—place these artists within the context of the city that lost them.
“In my research and conversations for this piece,” adds Lynne Sachs, who is also an adjunct instructor in the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at the Tisch School of the Arts, “I have become more and more awed by the sense of creative rapture that these artists brought to their every click of a camera, every brushstroke, every step onto the stage, every puckering of the lips. Often knowing early-on that their lives would never allow them to go gray in the dignity of old age, these artists lived their brief time on this earth to the fullest—offering to us their creative legacy to relish and remember.”
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