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After The Moment Reflections on Robert Mapplethorpe

Presented by Contemporary Arts Center at Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati OH

After The Moment Reflections on Robert Mapplethorpe

2015 will mark the 25th anniversary of the CAC’s landmark presentation of Robert Mapplethorpe’s survey exhibition The Perfect Moment in Cincinnati. And while 25 years have passed, this event continues to reverberate as much for the artwork on display as for the reactions it inspired, and the historic controversy that ensued. Amidst the ripples, then CAC Director Dennis Barrie was acquitted on charges of obscenity, first amendment laws were shaken and galvanized, the HIV crisis and gay rights movement took on added visibility and revealing light was cast upon the polarizing politics of what is seen and by whom. In an aftermath that has yet to fully settle or cease, the CAC will consider the legacy of this artist (and the events surrounding The Perfect Moment) through the lens of artists working today. Seven curators from across the tri-state region (Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana) will each select 5 artists who will present new work that measures how Mapplethorpe’s photos, exhibition and censorship shaped the artistic landscape they navigate today.

A special subsection of After the Moment curated by William Messer gathers five photographers connected to Cincinnati’s historic Images Center for Photography around the time of the Mapplethorpe controversy: Sally Mann, Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Rosalind Solomon, Joel-Peter Witkin and Messer, the curator who brought those four artists’ exhibitions to Cincinnati. Within this group, Mann and Minkkinen self-censored their Cincinnati exhibitions, while the Witkin exhibition was withdrawn by the artist’s gallery in New York and Solomon’s replaced it. The photographs selected by their makers as their contemporary responses to this historic anniversary include a never before published or exhibited 1989 homage to Mapplethorpe, a photograph exhibited at Images in 1990 which had earlier caused the entire exhibition to be cancelled at a university gallery, and other images with various histories of censorship, all but one to be exhibited for the first time in the US.

Co-Curated by Matt Distel, Dennis Harrington, William Messer, Steven Matijcio, Maria Seda-Reeder, Yasmeen Siddiqui and Elizabeth Stirratt

Additionally, the CAC wishes to see the legacy of Robert Mapplethorpe (and the events surroundingThe Perfect Moment) through the lens of artists working today, and has begun an open submission of related work from tri-state artists. One work will be selected to be displayed in the fall exhibition – the deadline to apply is August 28th.

Self Portrait, 1980 © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission.


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