Featured Review: Memories of Fire Island

Featured Review: Memories of Fire Island Anonymous, sun-bronzed male specimens, reduced to the homoerotic semiotics of beefcake torsos and bare limbs, languish in these images like exquisitely overripe perishables. The moment is the late '70s. The place, Fire Island, the flamboyant Hamptons beach community that served as an Edenic gay reprieve to the day's reigning and closeted conservatism. Photographer Tom Bianchi, who covertly captured several thousand Polaroids of this lost summer bacchanal, may not have known what an eye for compositional complexity or radiant color he had. Rather, his aesthetic sophistication in this series comes unwittingly, and only by desire's default. Beyond the saturated blue of pools, sky and tossed-off swim trunks, it's a sense of sincere artlessness — and possibly a perverse glee in being witness to this subculture of unabated pleasure — that makes these photographs resonate. There's so little indication that any of the young men, in their brazen revelry, is aware of their co-authorship of an elegiac archive. Through August 15 at phd gallery, 2300 Cherokee Street; 314-664-6644 or phdstl.com. Hours: noon-4 p.m. Thu.-Sun.

From Memories of Fire Island at phd gallery.
Tom Bianchi
From Memories of Fire Island at phd gallery.

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