February 6 through March 31, 2013
OPENING RECEPTION WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 6-8PM, FREE FOR ALL!
EXHIBITION WALKTHROUGH WITH STAMATINA GREGORY, GUEST CURATOR, AND ANN PHILBIN, DIRECTOR, HAMMER MUSEUM, UCLA (ICA MEMBERS AND DONORS ONLY), 5PM
Brian Weil is the first career retrospective of an extraordinary photographer who staked out an original mode of documenting insular, often invisible communities and subcultures. Working patiently and deliberately, Weil immersed himself in the world of those whose lives he felt compelled to image; his work foregrounds the complex terms of exchange between photographer and subject. A member of ACT UP and founder of New York City's first needle-exchange program, Weil believed that activism and artistic practice were inseparable. Brian Weil, on view in ICA's second floor gallery space February 6 through March 31, 2013, presents sixty photographs, prints, and videos from five distinct bodies of work, much of it exhibited for the first time: Hasidim (insular populations of Hasidim in Brooklyn and the Catskills), Miami Crime (homicide scenes investigated by the Miami police department), Sex (underground sex and bondage participants, the subjects of which he often found by placing classified ads), AIDS (extensive documentation of the emerging local and international politics of AIDS), as well as a long-term project with members of nascent transgender support groups.
Although he was a contemporary of participant observer photographers like Nan Goldin and Larry Clark, and of photojournalists like Susan Meiselas, Weil's work was utterly distinct in its physical mediation and unique relationship to the politics of representation. Part of his process was to intervene with his negatives—scratching them, blowing them up, overexposing them—techniques that lead the viewer into an investigation of the causes, processes, and effects of marginalization. Weil wanted to capture experience in a way that respected the dignity of his subjects, truthfully conveyed the texture of their experience, and at the same time reminded viewers that every image is saturated with subjectivity. Although the mediated materiality of his photographic portraiture has been dismissed for being at once too aestheticized and too ugly, Weil was highly respected by contemporaries like Cindy Sherman. Brian Weil brings forward the work of this powerful artist whose practice resonates in contemporary debates about the politics of sexuality, activist aesthetics, and photographic representation.
Brian Weil (1954 – 1996) was born in Chicago, where he briefly attended Columbia College and first began taking photographs as a teenager. During his career, he had twenty-one solo exhibitions at institutions—including Artists Space (1980), Moderna Museet (1989), the Saint Louis Art Museum (1991), and the Wexner Center for the Arts (1992). In 1991, the International Center of Photography organized an exhibition of his AIDS photographs, which was also the subject of a book Every 17 Seconds (Aperture, 1992). Weil's work is held in the permanent collections of The Jewish Museum, the International Center of Photography, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm.
Stamatina Gregory is an independent curator and scholar currently based in New York; her work engages with the interrelationship of photography and politics. Her affiliation with the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania began when she was a Whitney-Lauder Curatorial Fellow from 2007 to 2009. While at ICA, she curated the exhibitions Carlos Motta: The Good Life, Tavares Strachan: Orthostatic Tolerance, and Kate Gilmore. As an independent curator, Gregory has organized group exhibitions at FLAG Art Foundation, Winkleman Gallery, PPOW Gallery, the New York Center for Art and Media Studies, and Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. Her upcoming exhibition Eyes for Eyes in Holy Lands will be shown at the Austrian Cultural Forum, New York, in 2013. Gregory is completing a PhD at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
Screening and Talk: Chris Kraus
Saturday, February 16, 2PM
Novelist, critic, and filmmaker Chris Kraus's How to Shoot a Crime (1982/1987) juxtaposes pop sadomasochism and police crime scene videos, creating an image of New York City on the cusp of gentrification. Join Chris Kraus and curator Stamatina Gregory for a screening and conversation on representations of sex, violence, and New York in the 1980s.
Curator Talk and Conversation: Brian Weil
Sunday, February 24, 2PM
How can photography and activism meaningfully intersect? Curator Stamatina Gregory will introduce the audience to the exhibition Brian Weil, after which she will join Patrick Moore, Deputy Director of The Andy Warhol Museum, and Ric Curtis, Chair of the Department of Anthropology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and former Board Chair of CitiWide Harm Reduction, for a poignant conversation that will reflect on Weil's commitment to both art and advocacy during his lifetime.
Brian Weil Gallery Talk with Jeanne Vaccaro
Wednesday, February 27, 6:30PM
Brian Weil's prescient video project, Susan, unflinchingly follows its subject through the clinical and emotional processes of her gender transformation. Join Jeanne Vaccaro, Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Sexuality Studies (2012-2014) in a discussion on transgender aesthetics and representational politics within the Weil installation.
Brian Weil will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue available January 2014, featuring a scholarly essay from the curator and a historic interview between Weil and Claudia Gould, currently director of the Jewish Museum in New York. It will also include transcribed oral histories by people who knew Weil, contextualizing his work and life within a framework of dominant debates from that era, particularly concerning documentary photography, the politics of representation, and the local and international politics of AIDS activism.
images (top to bottom): Brian Weil, Hasidim Self-Portrait (Series: Hasidim), n.d. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Brian Weil Archive. Brian Weil, Untitled (Description: two nudes embracing goose, Series: Sex), gelatin silver print, 31 x 31 1/2 inches. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Brian Weil Archive. Brian Weil, Untitled (Description: man lying on bed with bloody face, clenched fists, Series: Miami Crime), gelatin silver print, 31 1/2 x 31 1/2 inches. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Brian Weil Archive. Brian Weil, Transvestite Safe-sex Outreach Worker, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, (Description: transvestite, roadside with purse, Series: AIDS), 1987, gelatin silver print, 31.3 x 31.3 inches. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: On extended loan from Kenneth C. Weil.
ICA is grateful to the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for generous support of this exhibition. Programming associated with this exhibition has been supported by the Spiegel Fund to Support Contemporary Culture and Visual Arts and the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation. Additional funding has been provided by the Arthur M. Cohen & Daryl Otte Fund; the Meredith L. & Bryan S. Verona Fund; the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; the Dietrich Foundation, Inc.; the Overseers Board for the Institute of Contemporary Art; friends and members of ICA; and the University of Pennsylvania. Free admission to ICA for the public is sponsored by the Amanda (C95) & Glenn (W87/WG88) Fuhrman Fund. General operating support provided, in part, by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund and the Barra Foundation. ICA receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. ICA thanks La Colombe for providing complimentary coffee at public events. ICA acknowledges Le Méridien Philadelphia as our official Unlock Art™ partner hotel.