New York

Stephen Barker

Morris Healy Gallery

The twenty-two untitled photographs in “Selections from Nightswimming, NYC, 1993–4,” the first solo exhibition of Stephen Barker’s work, depict men either having or looking for sex. These dark images—selenium-toned gelatin-silver prints—have a formal beauty that stems from their velvety blackness; this, and their regular spacing around the room, made the show resemble a repetitive installation of dark Minimalist canvases, severe and imposing. So uniformly dark are these pictures that only by lingering and squinting could one eventually begin to make out the human forms captured within them. The grainy outlines have a painterly quality that approximates Alfred Stieglitz’s achievements in photogravure, but the dark sfumato effects come solely from the long exposure time required by the circumstances; the photographer recorded these images in darkened gay sex clubs and porn theaters. The

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