"From the Margins" Press Release

Silhouetted man with red bag.
Image from "From the Margins" at Gallery 102
September 16, 2019

WASHINGTON DC - 2019 marks thirty years since the cancellation of The Perfect Moment: Photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. And in this new perfect moment, this appealing anniversary wrapped neatly in black and white, it is easy to draw a line directly from the present back to one point in the past. However, when time is compressed as such, what happens to the in-between? From the Margins aims to examine the foreclosure presented by Mapplethorpe’s legacy by pivoting towards Glenn Ligon’s response to Mapplethorpe. In this way, Ligon’s Notes On the Margins of the Black Book serves as a guide to generating critique.


In Ligon’s incisive work, photographs from Mapplethorpe’s infamous Black Book are paired with texts taken from writers such as Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Zora Neale Hurston, as well as quotes from everyday patrons to New York City bars and clubs. In his response to Mapplethorpe, Ligon reveals the inextricability of identity, race, sex, history and politics. From the Margins views Ligon’s work as critique, but more specifically critique as care. Works on view such as Naima Green’s Pur·suit updates Catherine Opie’s Dyke Deck to better reflect the lived queer experience of today, with 54 card-sized portraits of queer womxn, trans, non-binary and gender nonconforming people. Stanley Stellar, whose acclaimed photographs of New York City men spanning over four decades, continues to capture vulnerability and sensuality in all their endless manifestations.


From the Margins speaks to the function of critique, the authority of public reception, and the spectacularization of an artist into a mythos. Critique is presented without the condemnation of finality but rather as a form of care and collaboration. How can we better understand the history of representation when we re-examine Mapplethorpe’s position? The artists in the show both take up and refuse Mapplethorpe’s ethos in the service of making space. The exhibition considers the importance of filling in the gaps in our visual vocabulary, challenging the viewer to reconsider the legacy of representing those on the margins and the role of critique.


In addition to the sixteen artists on view, From the Margins includes a resource library and a fully illustrated catalog with over ten contributors.


Exhibiting Artists: Peter Clough, John Edmonds, Benjamin Fredrickson, Naima Green, Florian Hetz, Sara Lusitano, Carlos Motta, Matthew Papa, John Paradiso, Luis Alberto Rodriguez, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Stanley Stellar, Matt Storm, Gerardo Vizmanos, Shen Wei and Shikeith.


Resource Library: Raw Meat Collective, GenderFail, Kink Magazine, Aperture, Original Plumbing, Camilo Godoy/Amigxs and Cakeboy Magazine. 


Catalog Contributors: Andy Johnson, Caitlin Chan, James Huckenpahler, Megan L. Weikel, Jessica Layton, Terence Washington, Che Gossett, Josh T Franco, Adriana Monsalve of Homie House Press, Aubrey T.A. Maslen, Martina Dodd and Ravon Ruffin.


For more information on the exhibiting artists, resource library and catalog contributors, view the full press release here



Join Us for the Opening Reception:

Friday September 20, 2019 // 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. - Join us for the opening reception of From the Margins. Light refreshments will be served. The gallery is ADA accessible; the event is free and open to the public; all are welcome to attend. To RSVP, click here.



Contact Gallery 102

[email protected]
Hours: Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.


801 22nd St NW
Washington, D.C. 20052