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The photographer's focus on content rather than on elaborate technique reveals the intensely personal-and, indeed, autobiographical-nature of his portraits. Their simplicity along with the text's intimacy affects the viewer in ways not easily forgotten. An introduction by Tyler Curtain contextualizes the photographs both within the history of Baltimore and its queer subculture and in relationship to contemporaneous work by photographers Nan Goldin, Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman, Duane Michaels, and others. Curtain also positions the underlying concerns of Bardertscher's art in relation to gay and lesbian cultural politics.
This striking collection of portraits, along with the photographer's moving text, will impact not only a general audience of photographers and enthusiasts of the art but also those engaged with gay and lesbian studies, queer theory, and cultural studies in general. It is published in association with the Duke University Museum of Art.
“These images of many of the denizens of Baltimore’s gay ‘underground’ in the 1970s are often deeply disturbing. The literal nakedness of many of the subjects provides only a minimal index of how painfully exposed and vulnerable some of them are. I feel grateful to Amos Badertscher for having produced and preserved these images, and to Tyler Curtain for the responsive generosity of his vision of them.”—Michael Moon, author of A Small Boy and Others: Imitation and Initiation in American Culture from Henry James to Andy Warhol