Opening reception: Saturday, November 12
Blum & Poe is pleased to present November 1966, an exhibition of self-portrait photographs created fifty years ago to the month by an unknown photographer. The twenty-eight images at hand show a shirtless man, alone on a rooftop, donning a variety of women’s bikini briefs and underwear. He is seen from multiple vantage points – some poses unassuming and others uninhibited – all the while an undercurrent of 1960s experimental, sexual whimsy pervades. What lends a strange atmosphere to these pictures is the ambiguity of the scene – nothing is known of the photographer’s intentions, the viewer is left to construe a narrative long divorced from creator and date of origin.
The compositions go beyond their surface eroticism by documenting a carefully conceived relationship between the body of the unknown photographer/subject and the surrounding sightlines and architecture. From nearly every corner of the roof stage, we are presented with a panoramic view of the photographer’s performance. The fact that these pictures were conceived privately at the edge of building and sky, along with the subject’s commonly found closed-fist stance, frame this unknown photographer as a countercultural Superman of sorts.
These photographs where discovered by California-based artist Jason Brinkerhoff, whose photographic practice has produced important positions in the field of outsider photography in recent years, including his project Type 42 (Anonymous) and his presentation of the work of John Kayser. Type 42 (Anonymous), in collaboration with Delmes & Zander, Cologne, was the subject of a book published by Walther König with an essay by Cindy Sherman, and exhibited in the group show System and Vision at David Zwirner, New York (2015). The photography of John Kayser was discovered in Los Angeles, CA in 2015, and in partnership with Ampersand, Portland has been the subject of exhibitions at FARAGO, Los Angeles and The Journal, Brooklyn in 2016.