Jimmy De Sana

introducing the world of JIMMY DESANA

Jimmy DeSana died in 1990 at the age of 40. He and Tseng Kwong Chi, who died in the same year and at the same age, were the reigning photographers of a crazy art and music scene. DeSana never achieved the fame of Robert Mapplethorpe, even though his pictures explored a similarly sensationalistic and taboo territory, depicting S&M scenes and other sights most folk have never seen. Both produced edgy portraits. Why was Mapplethorpe big and DeSana legendary? Maybe DeSana played to a smaller, hipper room and had a more stringent art agenda while Mapplethorpe had a fame agenda. Where Robert was making clearly prurient, way-out pictures, Jimmy was making surrealist high cheesecake — pictures that were shocking but also spectacularly ironic. Jimmy’s sex was cool and second degree, Robert’s was hot and in your face. Submission, with an essay by William S. Burroughs, which appeared in 1979 in black and white rather than in his spectrum-bending ultraviolent color, stands as his only published volume until now. Artist Laurie Simmons, who administers DeSana’s estate, recently mounted a show of his work at Salon 94 in New York.


texto: PURPLE


Mark Morrisroe - The Architecture of Loss 1959-1989

The Architecture of Loss: Mark Morrisroe, 1959-1989

I wonder how they will actually cease and come to an end as drawings, and into what new phases of being they will then enter.

-- Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh

Sur Rodney (Sur): Decades have passed now since Mark Morrisroe's untimely death. Until very recently his photography has been presented on occasion without any major acknowledgement of the artist's significance in relation to his influence. Seeing the immense body of work from the Morrisroe Estate's recent catalogue presently being put forward (Ringier Collection, Fotomuseum Winterthur) along with these non-photo works that were left to you by Mark, I'm beginning to recognize something that I hadn't considered before -- Morrisroe was using his photographed imagery as a canvas to paint on as well as using it as a template to make paintings and prints.
Rafael Sanchez: That is accurate both in that painting was a considerable aspect of Mark's mind-set and that there has been scant evidence of this in the way that his work has been presented up until very recently. In part this may be due to the intensity of Mark's biography that is evident as subject matter in much of his work. The main thing to keep in mind in this regard is that ultimately for Mark the chemistry and processes of photography were his painterly tools and that meaning was penultimate as techniques and explorations met with his primary subject, his life.

SRS: So that's to say that there was, in a sense, a kind of playful fusion going on. Looking back at what was happening in the New York art world of the 1980s, the decade of Mark's productive output, there was much inter-referencing and exchange between artists' production methods and mediums ... any given show at International With Monument, for example, was cause to consider this interface.
RS: And there was comedy involved, if you could sift through the rhetoric and art-speak. Mark was very aware and interested in that, the comedy. For example, there were a bunch of typed out jokes Mark came up with that he used to make a series of photograms with. One of them read, "What do cowboy hats and hemorrhoids have in common? Sooner or later every asshole gets one." That was partly directed at Richard Prince, whose Marlboro Man pieces were getting a lot of attention at the time.

SRS: The political climate of the 80s is often overlooked as well in terms of art production partially due to the big party that was going on. The term zeitgeist was often used in just about every piece of art criticism in those days. It was the Reagan era, which produced a kind of self-determination and economic boom on the one hand and a gross misappropriation of priorities on the other. The Cold War was being played out with death squads in Central America, Apartheid in South Africa and AIDS was at our doorstep in a very real way. New York City was simultaneously opulent and falling apart. Graffiti and Punk aesthetics were brought into the galleries with large bank accounts. Artist led coalitions like Group Material and ACT-UP were very effective in presenting a social criticism through a mixture of innovative media overlap. Morrisroe's work falls somewhere in between these extremes, in terms of social conscientiousness. Was any of this pertinent to his thinking?
RS: Once in New York Mark did not fit into any of this, though as Mark Dirt (his punk alias in Boston) and with DIRT magazine he had already qualified quite a punk reputation in Boston for himself at a very early age. That probably heightened his awareness of what was going on around him in New York to some extent. But one has to understand that he was not at all interested in politicizing his sexuality. He was completely open about it and it was part of him and his work as truth. Period. That was completely brave and political in itself. Even later as he was being destroyed by the disease that swallowed him whole, he chose to deal with it as an aesthete. Of course he was angry. Who wouldn't be? But it is a testament of strength that he stayed on point with his art as a playful source of creative purity. I'd also go as far as to say that art itself gave him strength in that fight. That being said, he understood that he had the power to challenge assumptions through his work and he very much enjoyed being provocative.



Jordan Casteel

"In his iconic The Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison writes, “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed, everything and anything except me.”

"Referencing Ellison’s novel, Brooklyn-based artist and recent Yale MFA graduate Jordan Casteel investigates the notion of invisibility and visibility in her monumental portraits of nude black men in repose in her exhibition Visible Man at Sargent’s Daughters. Often sitting in domestic interiors, surrounded by seemingly mundane everyday objects such as photographs, liquor bottles and an always necessary disco-ball, Casteel’s subjects gaze, like Manet’s Olympia, from the painting, directly at the viewers. Aside from Manet, Casteel’s stunning paintings recall numerous art historical references from the lounging form of Ingres’ Grande Odalisque to the surreally colored skin of Picasso’s blue period."

"Perhaps both fortunately and unfortunately, Casteel’s exhibition could not be more profound as the black male body as a contested site has become a national topic of discussion with the murder of Michael Brown and the ensuing protests and police action in Ferguson, Missouri. This is certainly not to say Visible Man would not be timely without these recent occurrences, considering I could run through a list of events such as the murder of Trayvon Martin that would also deeply resonate with these paintings.
While undeniably revealing her vast painterly skill, Casteel’s paintings provide a rich and complex basis to discussing the duel forces of visibility and invisibility inherent in being a person of color, as well as other non-normative identities"