Gabriel Martinez is the second of five Philadelphia artists to take over ICA’s Instagram during ICA@50. From March 12–21, he posted images inspired by our Street Sights exhibition (1980 and 1981) and his archival research into gay Philadelphia.
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Martinez shares his thoughts on the project…
It actually turned into a very emotional project for me, researching and then posting twice a day. The morning posts—news clippings—come directly from my research at the John J. Wilcox Jr. Archives of Philadelphia and specifically from the years 1980/1981—that was very important to me. I wanted a mix of contexts and images, from the alarming to the totally superficial. I wanted to capture something about the madness of the early eighties: the political climate, the very beginnings of the AIDS epidemic. Most of the images were from the Philadelphia Gay News, as I wanted those posts to have a local perspective. I also researched publications like The Advocate, The Washington Blade, New York Native, and Fag Rag.
The evening posts are images I created, which were mostly captured around Center City Philadelphia with emphasis on the “Gayborhood.” I asked myself certain questions, for example: “What was it like for a young person to come out during the early eighties?” “How would things be different if current modes of social media, including Instagram and Twitter, had existed back then?” I consciously chose black and white with an emphasis on street photography, not only to stay focused on an early eighties vibe, but also in reference to the graphic appeal of the images created by the artists included in ICA’s Street Sights exhibition.
I looked carefully at the Street Sights catalogues kept in ICA’s reference library. The photographic works of Becky Young, Ray Metzker, William Larson, and Laurence Salzmann, who participated in ICA In Transit, stood out. The Window component of Street Sights was also important for me—the storefront installations created by Eleanor Hubbard, Lynn Hershman, and Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt. One Instagram post places my young queer protagonist directly in front of the very storefront window (The John Wanamaker Building, Juniper and Market) that housed the Street Sights installations back in 1980 and 1981.
This Instagram project is evolving into a whole new body of work for me. I am grateful for the opportunity.
Gabriel Martinez, a Cuban-American native of Miami, Florida, works largely with photography, performance and installation. Martinez’s practice is primarily based in Philadelphia, PA, as well as Miami and New York. Martinez was a Pew Fellowship in the Arts recipient in 2001 and was a Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship recipient in 2003. He has created performance-oriented events and installations for various venues including The Fabric Workshop & Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, White Columns, and Franklin Furnace.
To view Martinez’s whole project via Instagram, start here and click the left hand arrow to see more images.
Find out more about ICA’s @ICAPhiladelphia Instagram project and connect with us online.
@ICAPhiladelphia: an ICA@50 Instagram carousel by artist Micah DangesStreet Sights 2Street SightsICA@50: Pleasing Artists And Publics Since 1963@ICAPhiladelphia / Street Sights (1980 and 1981)