Ryan McGinley, Danni & Orrin, 2020, C-print, 72 × 48".

Ryan McGinley, Danni & Orrin, 2020, C-print, 72 × 48".

Ryan McGinley


The old utopias are of little use anymore—those storied havens of self-sufficient living, unbroken meditation cycles, serenity in absentia. In this new era, streets burn. Our voices crack, our heads and our hearts. Glimpsed through our contemporary disquiet, such outworn freedom narratives show themselves to be little more than escapist indulgence dressed as countercultural dissent. Where is your utopia now? Where is your fantasy?

“My world is all fantasy,” Ryan McGinley once said before closing the circle this way: “Within my world of fantasy I am searching for moments that seem like reality.” Whether fantasy or reality (or, indeed, fantasy under the auspices of reality), McGinley’s pictorial world reads as a prelapsarian wonderland. In his recent exhibition “Pretty Free,” the photographer mused on a time of free love and freer spirits, of tripping in the many acceptable senses of the

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