philadelphia

Brian Weil, Untitled self-portrait (sex), ca. 1980–82, gelatin silver print, 31 3/4 x 33 1/4".

Brian Weil

ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia

Brian Weil, Untitled self-portrait (sex), ca. 1980–82, gelatin silver print, 31 3/4 x 33 1/4".

Coordinating “deviant” sexual assignations in the pre-Internet era was no easy matter; doing so required magazine subscriptions, stealth, postage, and patience. This was how it was in 1980, when photographer Brian Weil began placing ads in fetish periodicals seeking participants for a project titled “Sex,” 1980–82. The result was a haunting series of some two dozen photographs of alt-erotic revelry: We see a couple fucking atop a pair of taxidermied deer, a man (or a woman?) getting fisted from behind, another man receiving aquatic fellatio from a carp—and so on. In a rare self-portrait, Weil stands alone, naked and aroused, his head hooded by a bondage mask, as if to demonstrate that his relationship to this subject matter was only partly journalistic (Untitled self-portrait [sex], ca. 1980–82).

Fittingly, this image of the artist greeted viewers at the entryway of his

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