“I don’t know why these pictures pull at me so, but they have for more than a quarter of a century now, and they are pulling at me still. At times I find them touching or ;any or incredibly heartbreak ing, and always, always, all too human: Bill Witliff takes the artful hand of the curator to make the objects “surpass their makers’ limited intentions “Why then do many of the portraits of the women seem so conceptual? Take, for example, two shots I call “The Pair of Pairs.” Here we see two working girls in full plumage leaning against a car fender in one, those same two totally naked in another. And what about another pair of portraits, of a single woman who wears different wigs and makeup while she stands, on separate occasions, before the same blank white wall? These recall Richard Avedon’s show “In the American West,” where a similarly heightened realism works to make its “marginal” subjects even more strange and alien to their audience than they might be in real life. quote by Bill Wittliff in the program guide/ printed version of “Boystown” says, “I don’t know why these pictures pull at me so, but they have for more than a quarter of a century now, and they are pulling at me still. At times I find them touching or funny or incred ibly heartbreaking, and always, always, all too human.” It’s an apt description I suppose, and it hints at my own unset tling ambivalence toward the images. In so many of these the general atmos phere of beer, ash-trays spilling ciga rette butts, los labios and painted, dead actress eyes of even the most woebe gone whores, is weirdly inviting. Collected together these pictures begin to hint at my kind of party. The best of these surpass the simple false advertis ing of the rest and beckon the viewer toward a tawdry Shangri-La of the mind. When I think of the subjectmatter realistically it fades, grows ugly. But when I allow it to blur into something a little closer to my ideal, I start dreaming of some debauched paradise in the desert. Some of the pleasure of viewing this show, and the myth it reinforces, lies in getting suckered into believing in Shangri-La. Plus you get the added bonus of being able to soak up the sight of these cowboys, mariachis, pachucas and putas, lost now in time, without any of the hungover regret and self-loathing deflation that usually follows a real night in Boystown.Yet both the art and the life seem to share at least one thing in common. Whether you experience Boystown in three dimensions or whether you play the role of le voyeur sexotique in an art gallery, the element of exploitation seems to remain intact. Bob Pomeroy has written for the NewYork Press and other publications. 8/17/01 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 27 Im mi
You May Also Like
The documentary in Falfurrias is sinister and spiritual.