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(AEQAI) Past Perfect: Mapplethorpe + 25

Posted November 24, 2015 in

"It was a pretty perfect moment. For one evening and the whole day following, FotoFocus and the Contemporary Arts Center teamed up to sponsor and host three panel discussions and three keynote speakers to talk about the making of Mapplethorpe the artist, the making of the CAC’s 1990 show “The Perfect Moment” and subsequent trial, and the current task of making meaningful exhibits out of the Mapplethorpe canon while bearing in mind, as FotoFocus’s Artistic Director and Curator Kevin Moore noted, that this is “material that’s been very well exposed” by now. The guest list was first-rate. On hand were some of the people behind the decision to mount the Mapplethorpe show in Cincinnati in 1990, including Dennis Barrie, the CAC Director in the 1990s, and the thoughtfully eloquent Louis Sirkin, the First Amendment attorney who defended Barrie and the CAC in court. There were familiar faces, including Robert Sherman, Mapplethorpe model and occasional partner, and familiar names, including the distinguished photo critic Carol Squiers, now Curator at the International Center of Photography. There were people who knew Mapplethorpe when he was young, people who helped shape his career and reputation, and people who now work to extend and redefine his legacy. Together, they made claims about Mapplethorpe’s relationship to virtually every art form (except, oddly, photography), provided considerable and delicious anecdotal heft to our understanding of Mapplethorpe’s life in the New York City in the 1970s and 80s, from which he drew the material that fueled the notoriety of his art, and reminded the audience how much the culture of Cincinnati had changed in the last quarter century."

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