NYC museum exhibition celebrates photos of activists and artists, and a few nudes too

The Leslie-Lohman Museum, created to “preserve LGBTQ identity and build community” in New York, is currently showing their first curatorial exhibition of 2020: Uncanny Effects: Robert Giard’s Currents of Connections. The exhibition features over 100 pieces from respected photographer Robert Giard, including original prints of his photography, journal entries, and articles of letters and postcards from his archives.

Giard began his career as a photographer in the 1970s, photographing The Hamptons in New York before the area became a playground for the rich and famous. He then ventured into nude photography, some of which is on display at Leslie-Lohman, such as a bedside portrait of porn actor and adult magazine editor Scott O’Hara. Giard’s landmark composition was Particular Voices – Portraits of Gay + Lesbian Writers, photos of over 600 literary figures, which was published in an anthology book in 1997. 

Noam Parness, assistant curator at the Leslie-Lohman Museum, helped process Giard’s archives and spent a year planning the exhibit for Leslie-Lohman.

“Giard took really beautiful photographs—they’re really beautiful and rich, in how they let you look, if that makes sense,” Parness said. “I also think that these photographs really show a wide range both in time period, and also in terms of who’s portrayed: [LGBTQ] activists, authors, and artists, mostly during the 80s and 90s.

“I don’t think Giard is very well known as a photographer, and I’m very excited for people to become more familiar with his work.”

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Beyond just looking at prints of Giard’s images on the wall, the exhibition also includes interactive tablets featuring his never-before-seen negatives. There’s also some original books and pamphlets penned by the various writers that became Giard’s subjects that you can take off the shelf and read (within the museum). Leslie-Lohman even has some short films that you can watch, featuring the voices of some of Giard’s subjects as well.

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Parness said the “hidden gem” of the exhibit are Giard’s journal entries.

“Even though we pulled a bunch of them for the captions and descriptive information, I don’t think that many people will take the time to sit and read them,” Parness said. “But for the people that do take the time to read them…they’re really rich, really poetic. They’re incredibly descriptive of both the people he photographed and Giard himself, so I’m just excited for people to engage with those writings. I think people, generally, are less drawn to text in an exhibition, as opposed to pictures, so in that way, it’s hidden.”

The exhibit is currently on display until Sunday, April 19. 

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