The photographer moved effortlessly between scenes: No Wave music, performance, queer subcultures, downtown nightlife, the Pictures Generation and mail art.
A list of things Jimmy DeSana photographed — shoes, sofas, legs and butts — misses his true subject, which was a sensibility. He regarded the body as a playground, gender as an ongoing invention, and domestic interiors as surreal constructions. He had a queer take on life.
A familiar presence on the downtown New York scene, DeSana has been largely overlooked since his death in 1990, at 40, of AIDS-related illnesses. Aiming to rectify that, “Submission,” opening Nov. 11 at the Brooklyn Museum, is the first solo museum exhibition of his photographs. A show at PPOW gallery in Manhattan will follow in February.
“Because Jimmy was really shy, he acted like he was in on some joke,” said Laurie Simmons, the artist and filmmaker, who was one of his closest friends, his frequent model and the executor of his estate. “He was very Warholian in certain ways. He knew the combination of being shy and mysterious would work well for him. He could have a twinkle in his eye and say less. He would make some people uncomfortable. ”
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