Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s

Feb 11–Jun 3, 2012

Peter Hujar’s sensitive portrayals of members of the gay subculture in New York’s East Village were often part document, part theater—collaborative performances between a subject in front of the camera and the subject behind it. In John Heys in Lana Turner’s Gown, the sitter—dressed in drag that summons 1940s Hollywood glamour—is at once self-possessed and defiant, suggesting the importance of performance to individual identity. Daniel Schook Sucking Toe is equally staged. Theatrically lit and set in the artist’s studio, the subject’s nudity suggests vulnerability, even though his gesture is playful, sexual, and calculated. This careful attention to lighting, pose, and costume can also be seen in Man Leaning Against Tree, which, although it appears impromptu and objective, is nonetheless carefully orchestrated and highly subjective.