|curator's statement||december 2006 selection|
t h e m a l e p o r t r a i t
c u r a t o r : r i c h a r d r e n a l d i
When approaching the Visual AIDS slide library, I thought it best to approach it with an idea in mind. This is a large archive and approaching it with a more specific theme seemed reasonable to me. One theme that I am strongly drawn to is portraiture. It is a constant and very important focus of my own work, thus choosing portraiture felt like a natural choice to me.
More specifically, I am attracted to images of masculinity and male sexuality -- so I wanted to use this opportunity to select a diverse group of portraits whose subject matter was the representation of men.
The images I have selected are of men both young and old. They are in many different stages in their life. Some are looking at themselves through self-portraiture and others are the object of someone elses eye. The experience that I see that binds these disparate men is the thoughtfulness of their gaze. There is a self-presentation amongst many of them that conveys a relaxed "here I am" manner. This for instance is seen in the body language of both Rob Anderson's Norman Tyler Larson and Loreen Bryant's Mexican Fervor.
These portraits elicit both a range of emotional responses in me and a reading of the emotional state of the subjects pictured. In some cases these feelings may overlap as my attraction to some of the images manifests itself on a physical level as with Vincent Cianni's portrait of the confident adolescent Johnny posing shirtless with his birthday cake. There is Robert Blanchon's beautiful, street-artist commissioned charcoal self-portrait, which is both vibrant and dreamy. And George Towne's lovely and lanky Slava. I feel warmth and camaraderie from Albert J. Winn's portrait of a couple on a porch holding a frying pan, from his Radical Faerie Series. I feel mild confrontation from Tara Popick's Untitled elderly man holding onto railing, and I sense tension in Tim McCarron's Luis who is grasping a chair.
The men portrayed in many of these portraits are not the in-your-face, chiseled, lean-bodied or muscled bodybuilder types that men are so often today bombarded with from advertising, television and gay erotica. These men are a more subtle, quiet and real-life, day-to-day image of maleness. And, in the case of Frederick Weston's Richard XII, a more flamboyant and celebratory version.
These portraits are all of individuals, and let us not forget that the millions of victims and sufferers of HIV and AIDS are individuals -- not statistics, nor political tools, but once and now living, breathing human beings. It is to them that I dedicate this web gallery.
b i o g r a p h y
Richard Renaldi is a photographer living in New York. He has exhibited widely, including solo shows at Western Projects, Calif.; Debs & Co., N.Y.; and an upcoming show at Yossi Milo Gallery, N.Y., in January 2007. His work has also been included in numerous group shows, including Strangers: The First International Center of Photography Triennial of Photography and Video, N.Y., and the traveling exhibition Pandemic: Facing AIDS. Renaldi graduated from New York University with a bachelor of fine arts in photography in 1990. Richard Renaldi's first monograph, Figure and Ground, was recently published by Aperture. Drawn from a seven-year body of work, Figure and Ground is comprised of portraits and landscapes taken from coast to coast, across the United States. Together, they present a beautiful and compelling look at America's increasingly diverse social landscape. Renaldi has also devoted much of his photographic talents to putting a living, human face on those afflicted with AIDS, as well as its long-term survivors. More of his work can be seen at www.renaldi.com.