boston

Stephen Barker

Bernard Toale Gallery

Beginning with “Night Swimming,” 1999, a series of grainy photographs documenting the murky corners of Manhattan’s gay sex clubs, Stephen Barker has focused his camera on the eroticism of anonymous desire. His latest project, “The Archivist’s Wig,” 2007–2008, a layered combination of found and fabricated photographs, wallpaper, and sculpture, takes as its subject the life and times of the notorious gay cold war double agent Guy Burgess (1911–1963), a British diplomat turned Soviet spy and defector. An array of ink-jet prints made from scanned negatives of Barker’s own new still lifes and beefcake shots, shown alongside cold war–era porn, relevant news clippings, and declassified FBI records, loosely narrate Burgess’s political and sexual crimes.

The files acquired by Barker were made after Burgess’s 1951 defection; Barker also borrowed images of the exteriors of ’50s gay bars from the

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