philadelphia

Stuart Netsky

ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia

In a series of black and white photographs, “What Should I Wear?,” 1993, Stuart Netsky changes his pose as often as his dress, creating coy, honest, then decidedly camp self-portraits. It was as if the artist were watching us watching him press against the cultural boundaries of gender identity. Seen before the installation, Time Flies, 1993, the portraits served as a prelude to the extended dialogue of that piece.

The installation was like a bizarre salon, museumlike in its considered arrangements, but illumined by a garish, violet glare borrowed from after-hours clubs. Unfolding around a large sod carpet imprinted with a double image of hearts made from dried rose petals, a series of tableaux shifted the focus away from the artist’s sexual identity to the more general issues of vanity and mortality and, specifically, the reality of AIDS. Netsky’s camp sensibility was operating at a feverish

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