Helen Molesworth, the Barbara Lee chief curator of ICA/Boston, selects photographs from ‘Peter Hujar: Love & Lust’ for Document's Spring/Summer 2014 issue.
Most of us armor up for the camera by acting natural. Peter Hujar wasn’t particularly interested in that. But to say that he was able to get people to relax in front of his camera, that he put his sitters at ease, wouldn’t be right at all. I don’t think he was interested in those easy forms of the self. These pictures feel to me like the work of self-abnegation rather than self-affirmation. What Hujar captures is the moment of the ego’s suspension, in pleasure, through eros, via love. His pictures are filled with eyes that look into the lens of the camera, and out from the picture, and say something ineffable like: “I am not me. I am not a proper name. I am not my parent’s child. I am a form of energy currently made possible, made visible, by this encounter, right now, with you.”
‘Peter Hujar: Love & Lust,’ published by Fraenkel Gallery and distributed by DAP, is available now.
This article originally appeared in Document’s Spring/Summer 2014 issue.