Jack Pierson, Grease Monkey, 1990. Courtesy the artist and Cheim & Read, New York.
This October, Damiani will release The Hungry Years, a collection of photographs from the eighties by the artist Jack Pierson. The images, taken during the height of the AIDS epidemic and featuring many of his friends, are striking for their dreamy introspection, their melancholy, and their celebratory homoeroticism. Pierson has worked in many forms, including sculpture, word sculpture, bookmaking, drawing, painting, and photography. (The Paris Review published a portfolio of his word pieces in our Summer 1992 issue.) Eileen Myles, a friend of Jack’s, wrote the introduction to The Hungry Years, which we’ve published below, along with a selection of Jack’s photographs. —C.L.
Last year we were in my apartment and Jack was talking about going on a trip to Florida in the eighties and I’m of course thinking that Florida means something particular to someone (like Jack) who is from New England because New England sadly has about as much past as America has got—it’s branded by that New and of course New England is anything but new. Really it just wants to be old and it isn’t so you see those of us from New England just traveling around the world, shaking off those chains of the sharp quickening weather and that sad desire to be classy or old usually betrayed by our quaint speech—wicked or our loafers, or deliberately well-worn clothes in New England’s endless imitation of “real,” which is a copy of those who we think know about something older—we think they own stuff, Harvard and the Swan Boats and that Swan Boat accident and all that cold-weather food. So when this person goes south and not because he’s training for the Red Sox and not old but maybe he’s running away from something, hitching a ride on somebody else’s vacation, their buddy’s family owns something down there, maybe a deal of some kind is going on, or their parent’s place on the beach is empty for a while anyhow they go. According to Jack he took some pictures in response to I’m guessing the lightness, the eeriness of the bright buildings and the palms and the Florida tendency to be another America, professing to be new not old and failing at it. And explaining himself about that first burst he took he said, “and I kept using the camera there.” Read More