Doug Ischar- Marginal Waters

Ischar’s body of photographs from 1985, never before seen in its entirety, were taken on the now defunct Belmont Rocks in the city of Chicago, one of the most visible urban gay beaches in North America during the height of the AIDS crisis.  A new single-channel video work, Forget Him, will act as a counterpoint to the twenty-five year old photos.

In 2009 my boyfriend and I went with some older gay friends to see this exhibit.  They told us it would be “educational”…and it was.  I’ll never forget overhearing so many men reminiscing about the period of time these pics are from.  Seeing them point to a photo and say “there’s so and so”  “he died from it.”  “I miss him.”  Men crying.  Men laughing.  Hugging.  Lustfully remembering the sense of freedom they felt when they were unburdened by the weight of AIDS. Recalling the horror that so many people they knew were dropping dead around them.  Many of them that were there had been living with the disease themselves for decades.  I remember how relatable yet distant all their comments felt.  I didn’t know anybody in my personal life that had HIV/AIDS.  The only time I came in contact with anybody who did was when I was at events like this…which I rarely went to gay things outside my little bubble of bars and parties, I was in college.  On the way home I found out two of the guys that took us were HIV+.  I’m glad I went.  It was very educational.

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