PRINT March 1996


THE LATEST INSTALLATION by Iranian-born artist Y. Z. Kami centers on a wall of portraits—18 faces of anonymous young men with melancholy eyes and full, unsmiling lips, all painted in light earth-tones on linen. On seeing a photograph of this ensemble, a friend asked if these were memorials for people who had died of AIDS. They are not. As far as I’m aware the majority of Kami’s subjects are alive and well (though some of them are in jail). But the question is not entirely off the mark. My first thought on seeing this wall of paintings (which bears some distant relation to a Byzantine iconostasis) was that it would make a perfect illustration for the work of the great Alexandrian poet C. P. Cavafy. I was thinking in particular of his elegies for beautiful young men who have died, or grown old, or simply moved away—poems of infinite regret and frank eroticism that also manage to evoke

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