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Culled from vintage analog photographs, Nocturnal explores the human condition and vulnerability during the early political unrest of the AIDS crisis.
NOTE: This exhibit features nudity.
Enjoy award-winning photographer and educator Joe Ziolkowski’s Nocturnal, a retrospective spanning three decades, capitalizing on the ability of photography to record time, capture space. Culled from thousands of vintage black and white silver gelatin prints, the work focuses on images drawn from exhibitions including The Numbered, Silence, and Pressure.
From Silence emerges a soliloquy on communication. In looking at these photographs, we see our own history, or witness the history of others and consider the ever present emotional response to any given situation. “All judgement is loss, and at a decisive moment, we become vulnerable to all the elements.” When addressing difficult situations wearing blinders and traveling through time and space in silence, through metaphor and image, Ziolkowski asks “What makes an individual?” This question is explored through staged scenes, objects and opportunities
In The Numbered series, over 100 people were photographed in the ‘floating’ state created during the time people, gay and straight, waited for H.I.V. virus test results. At the beginning of the series, in 1988, Illinois mandated all couples to take an H.I.V. test before they could be issued a marriage license. Those tested were given a number to ensure anonymity. Many friends reported experiencing trauma as they awaited results. In ArtForum, James Yood states that Ziolkowski “managed to blur individuality emphasizing instead a kind of psychic abandon.” Yood notes that the photographs show humans “[a]bandoned to an extreme physical state and a personal and self-induced intoxication, these figures convey a heady sensuality that makes distinctions of race, age or even gender secondary.”
Pressure, captures the state of mind and body experienced when forces collide. In looking at the moment of pressure, for some there is pleasure, and others devastation. Ziolkowski says, “The deconstructive nature on the physical and emotional nature of each individual cannot be measured. But we do share a common factor of internalizing those events, and either allow decay, or build on the events to create a more positive attitude.”
Ziolkowski’s study and celebration of the human form details the magnificence, of which Yood says “the dictates of the body even when—especially when—its psyche is absent or confused.” The suspended bodies, arrested in mid-whirl “suggest an unexpected path toward a strange, personal freedom.”