First career retrospective for photographer Brian Weil opens at The Santa Monica Museum of Art

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Sunday, March 3, 2024

First career retrospective for photographer Brian Weil opens at The Santa Monica Museum of Art
Brian Weil, Zimbabwe Army, 30 Percent HIV Positive, Harare, Zimbabwe, 1990, Gelatin silver print, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, On extended loan from Kenneth C. Weil.

SANTA MONICA, CA.- The Santa Monica Museum of Art presents Brian Weil, 1979-95: Being in the World, the first career retrospective for an exceptional photographer whose life’s work shed light on insular and otherwise invisible communities during the 1980s and 1990s. The exhibition features sixty photographs, prints, and videos, and was curated by Stamatina Gregory for the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania. Brian Weil, 1979-95 features five distinct bodies of work: Sex (1979-1981), Miami Crime (1982-1984), Hasidim (1985-1987), AIDS (1985-1991), and Transgender (1992-1995). SMMoA is the only west coast venue for this exhibition, on view from January 17 to April 18 in the Museum’s Main Gallery.

Brian Weil conceived of photography as an excuse to become deeply involved in the lives of others. “Often I use the excuse,” he said in a 1991 interview, “and forget to make the pictures.” This oft-stated justification explains his unparalleled access to subcultures and marginalized communities, along with his production of a relatively small body of work for projects that spanned months and years at a time. Photographs, for Weil, were secondary but essential to his interest and immersion in the worlds of his subjects.

For Sex, one of the earliest New York-based series, Weil found subjects by placing classified ads in The Village Voice and various fetish and underground magazines. The resulting images capture moments of sexual exchange, bondage, and bestiality. A single self-portrait is included in the series, along with prints made of letters from prospective participants. To shoot Miami Crime, the artist trailed Miami Police Department detectives on homicide investigations, photographing a gamut of over sixty violent crime scenes over a two-year period. Hasidim was the result of approximately two years spent with insular Hasidic Jewish communities in Brooklyn and the Catskills. While attending weddings and other intimate celebrations, he shot a series of portraits.

Hasidim came to a close in the mid-1980s, when Weil became deeply involved in the emerging AIDS crisis. He joined ACT UP and co-founded New York City’s first needle exchange program. Coming to view activism and artistic practice as inseparable, he photographed friends struggling with HIV and AIDS. His final body of work was a five-part video installation depicting the clinical and emotional processes of a Special Ops military veteran’s gender transformation. Weil left the series unfinished at the time of his death in 1996.

Weil made conscious formal decisions to convey the texture of each community’s experience while also respecting their dignity and insularity. His process involved re-photographing images from Super 8 film strips, then scratching and overexposing the negatives. The resulting images are both revealing and obscured, an aesthetics of withholding that enabled Weil to carve out an ethical position within the confines of still photography. Compared to the work of other participant-observer photographers of his time, Weil’s oeuvre is unique in its physical manipulation of the medium and distinct terms of exchange between photographer and subject. Brian Weil, 1979-95: Being in the World brings forward the work of this powerful artist whose practice resonates in contemporary debates about the politics of sexuality, activist aesthetics, and photographic representation.

Brian Weil (1954 – 1996) was born in Chicago, where he briefly attended Columbia College and first began taking photographs as a teenager. During his career, he had twenty-one solo exhibitions at such institutions as Artists Space (1980), Moderna Museet (1989), the Saint Louis Art Museum (1991), and the Wexner Center for the Arts (1992). In 1991, the International Center of Photography organized an exhibition of his AIDS photographs, which was also the subject of a book, Every 17 Seconds (Aperture, 1992). Weil’s work is held in the permanent collections of the Jewish Museum, New York; the International Center of Photography, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

Stamatina Gregory is an independent curator and scholar currently based in New York; her work engages with the interrelationship of photography and politics. Her affiliation with the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania began when she was a Whitney-Lauder Curatorial Fellow from 2007 to 2009. While at ICA, she curated the exhibitions Carlos Motta: The Good Life, Tavares Strachan: Orthostatic Tolerance, and Kate Gilmore. As an independent curator, Gregory has organized group exhibitions at FLAG Art Foundation, Winkleman Gallery, PPOW Gallery, the New York Center for Art and Media Studies, Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, and the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York. She was Deputy Curator of the inaugural pavilion of the Bahamas at the 55th Venice Biennale. Gregory is a doctoral candidate at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Today's News

January 18, 2015

Dulwich Picture Gallery replaces Old Master painting with replica 'Made in China'

Brandywine River Museum of Art presents a major retrospective of Jamie Wyeth's work

U.Va. Fralin Museum of Art exhibits work of celebrated portraitist Lucian Freud

National Air and Space Museum in Washington lowers 'Spirit of St. Louis' to ground level

Northwestern University's Block Museum unveils complex legacy of Kashmiri art

Exhibition of recent work by Jonas Wood and Shio Kusaka opens at Gagosian Hong Kong

Feroz Galerie opens exhibition featuring the work of photographer Larry Fink

Exhibition of works by Michael Goldberg runs simultaneously in New York and Los Angeles

Exhibition of new works by Farrah Karapetian opens at Von Lintel Gallery in Los Angeles

Retrospective exhibition of artist Otis Kaye opens at the New Britain Museum of American Art

Horizon: Group exhibition featuring works by gallery artists opens at Lehmann Maupin

Morgenröthe: Exhibition of works by Thomas Helbig opens at Galerie Guido W. Baudach

'I lost an arm on my last trip home': Group exhibition opens at Ryan Lee in New York

'In dog we trust' rug put on auction in Florida

Ogden Museum of Southern Art announces the opening of exhibition of works by Mark Steinmetz

First career retrospective for photographer Brian Weil opens at The Santa Monica Museum of Art

Exhibition at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia rethinks art and machine

130-year-old 'gun that won the West' found in US park

Marc Séguin’s third solo show with Mike Weiss Gallery opens in New York

Wormhole: Lina López and Francois Bucher exhibit at Cristin Tierney Gallery

Beatrix Reinhardt and Conor Clarke exhibit at pavlov's dog

Sebastian Buerkner transforms The Gallery at Tyneside Cinema into a dreamlike virtual space

Patrick Jacobs' third one-person exhibition at Pierogi in Brooklyn

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful