Simon Watney

  • Douglas Crimp

    IN ADDITION TO HIS WELL KNOWN WORK as a critic and cultural historian of photography and museum studies, Douglas Crimp has been an outspoken and influential commentator within American and international debates about AIDS since the early years of the epidemic. His new collection, Melancholia and Moralism: Essays on AIDS and Queer Politics, contains an important and impressively reflexive chronological sequence of his writings on AIDS.

    For many years Crimp was an editor of the journal October. Following a wide-ranging introduction, Melancholia and Moralism begins with two articles written for a

  • Focus: “Rites of Passage”

    I succeeded, one could say, because I work in a very interesting field where I try in a very conventional field of culture, the so-called art scene, to develop a wider step.

    —Joseph Beuys, 1980

    As with all good exhibitions, there are many routes one can rake through “Rites of Passage: Art for the End of the Century,” at London’s Tate Gallery. Indeed the ride itself implies a variety of routes, as in life, with periods of transition, false doors, and so on. One could attempt to follow a chronological line, for example, noting (with initial surprise) that the oldest artist included here, the

  • Bill Jacobson

    A New York–based photographer, Bill Jacobson has exhibited selections from his ongoing project “Interim Photographs” for several years, most memorably at the Grey Art Gallery in New York in 1993, when a room full of his ghostly, shadowy portraits stood in sharp contrast to the adjacent retrospective of George Platt Lynes. The work of Platt Lynes stands foursquare in the mainstream of American Formalist art photography, however much it also exceeds and escapes many of the restrictions of the “school” that begins with Alfred Stieglitz, through Albert Weston, to Lee Freidlander, Robert Mapplethorpe,

  • John-Paul Philippé

    John-Paul Philippé is an American painter who spent most of the ’80s in London, though he has shown widely in New York since participating in a group show at the Drawing Center in 1992. A natural colorist, Philippé deliberately reduced his color range to grays and biscuits in the early ’90s and began working with a small range of formal elements, which for him condensed childhood memories and his physical and emotional ambivalence about AIDS. These are all “portraits” in a most general sense. Yet by restructuring the basic elements of his paintings to shapes that resemble tears, nails, feet,

  • the Remix Generation

    DANCE MUSIC HAS BEEN associated with young people and with youth culture throughout modern times. Dance music gets you through your teens, 20s, and beyond, and through the working week. Intrinsically hedonistic, it is closely tied to the body and to sexuality. Dance music brings people together across all social barriers. Sometimes it also constitutes barriers of its own, including some, excluding others. It is going-out-late-afterwork music, weekend-in-the-city music, and its themes are simple and direct—love, loss, lust, dancing. As Sheryl Lee Ralph sings on her 1994 dance-floor remix of her

  • DEREK JARMAN, 1942–1994: A POLITICAL DEATH

    THE DEATH OF DEREK JARMAN robs us not only of one of cinema’s most imaginative postwar independent directors but of one of Britain’s proudest and most indefatigably queer gay men. With the late Angela Carter, Jarman was the greatest poetic visionary of Britain’s Thatcher era. He captured with unerring accuracy the sense of inexorably developing corruption and cruelty that since the late ’70s has increasingly characterized everyday life here.

    Derek was a cornucopia of gifts, talents, skills, enthusiasms, and mysteries. A man of the early 1960s, he was always (sometimes touchingly) committed to

  • Aphrodite of the Future

    In the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia there is a conical black stone some five feet tall. It was excavated from the Bronze Age shrine of Aphrodite at Palaepaphos, on the south coast of the island, and is generally thought to have been the central cult idol of a vast temple complex that thrived for approximately 1,500 years beginning ca. 1200 B.C. This roughly egg-shaped boulder was one of the most sacred objects in antiquity. Pilgrims came from all around the Mediterranean world to the annual festival of the goddess, where, in exchange for payment, they were given a lump of salt and a phallus—“the

  • Adrian Rifkin's Street Noises

    Adrian Rifkin, Street Noises: Parisian Pleasure 1900-40 (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1993), 221 pages. Illustrations.

    When I was a child my father took me up to the viewing platform above the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Pointing south he said “Look. There’s the top of the Eiffel Tower.” And there it was, barely visible, on the far horizon. Many years later I was up on the same platform once more, with a friend. “Look,” I said, “there’s the top of the Eiffel Tower.” “Don’t be so daft,” said my friend, “that’s the Crystal Palace radio transmitter for south

  • the Pet Shop Boys

    For more than a decade gay men have responded to the presence of HIV and AIDS in our personal lives in a wide variety of ways. At one end of the scale, some, sadly, have been terrified into celibacy or loveless monogamy; at the other, some evidently find Safer Sex difficult to sustain. Yet the great majority of gay men have found ways to feel confident about sex. Community-based HIV education has insisted that Safer Sex is an issue for all gay men, regardless of our HIV-antibody status, and a remarkable collective response has emerged that is intimately informed by our awareness of the epidemic

  • Outing

    Cultural identities come from somewhere, have histories. But, like everything which is historical, they undergo constant transformation. Far from being eternally fixed in some essentialised past, they are subject to the continuous “play” of history, culture and power.

    —Stuart Hall, 1990

    THE '90s HAVE ALREADY SEEN a remarkable upsurge in gay political and cultural activism all around the world, from New York to London, from Sydney to Vancouver. Powerful activist organizations such as Queer Nation in the U.S. and OutRage in Britain have emerged in response

  • Pseudologia Fantastica

    THE SPRING OF 1990 has seen the most serious prison riots in Britain this century. Throughout the early stages of the rioting, at Strangeways jail in Manchester, British press coverage was distinguished by lurid accounts of murders and acts of torture, including castrations, alleged to have been committed by rioting prisoners on an estimated 20 men housed in isolation under U.K. prison Rule 43, which segregates “sex offenders” from the rest of the prison population for their own protection. These “sex offenders” include HIV-positive men, who are considered vulnerable to physical violence, and