“Backstage” presents a series of photographs captured by ‘one of the major American photographers of the late twentieth century’*, Peter Hujar. These images record performers backstage in New York theatres and nightclubs during the 1970s and ‘80s.
With many theatres and performance spaces closed because of the pandemic, the Maureen Paley gallery hopes to ‘provide a glimpse into the heyday of New York’s bohemia and the much-celebrated underground drag culture that flourished during Hujar’s lifetime’.
“Backstage” explores ideas of transformation. Hujar’s portraits depict subjects in the quiet moments between performances, applying make-up or standing around in full drag. These are intimate pictures reflecting on and celebrating the nuances of gender.
Hujar tragically died of AIDs in 1983, at the height of the crisis; his work has since been celebrated worldwide by artists and critics like Susan Sontag.
*According to Holland Cotter in The New York Times.
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