Made over the course of some thirty years starting in the 70ies, the photographs depict the many faces of April Dawn Alison, the female persona of an Oakland, California-based photographer who lived in the world as a man – Alan Schaefer. This previously unseen body of self-portraits, which was given to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2017, begins tentatively in 1970s in black-and-white, and evolves in the 80s into an exuberant, wildly colorful, and obsessive practice inspired by representations of women in classic film, BDSM pornography and advertising.
A singular, long-term exploration of a non-public self, the archive contains photographs that are beautiful, hilarious, enigmatic, and heartbreakingly sad, sometimes all at once. Posed in the safety of her home, Alison presents herself in her full beauty and humanity in a way she may not have felt free to do in the world, even in the Bay Area. These photos do not only function as aesthetic and personal documents but clarify the constant and lifelong struggle of LGBTQ people to live openly in society, both then and now.
With essays by Hilton Als (American writer and theater critic for The New Yorker), Zackary Drucker (American transgender multimedia artist, LGBT activist, actress and producer of smash Amazon series Transparent) and Erin O’Toole (associate curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art).
April Dawn Alison . 6 July – 1 December, 2019 . Floor 3 . Entry to this exhibition is included with general admission. sfmoma.org/exhibition/april-dawn-alison
Exhibition Catalogue . Vinyl-covered hardback . 220 pages, 24.5 x 27.5cm . published by MACK in June 2019 . ISBN: 978-1-912339-43-3 . €40 £35 $45
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