Published on www.newyorkcool.com
“Club 57, where are you?” Harvey Wang's Photographs of the Legendary East Village Club 1979-1983
By Christina M. Hinke
New York Cool
“Club 57, where are you?” depicts a zeitgeist of the East Village through the lens of Harvey Wang. More than 20 years have passed since he hung out at Club 57 with the likes of Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, John Sex, and Klaus Nomi and he wants to share that world with the New Yorkers of today, whose “free spiritedness is lost,” Wang longingly says.
In Williamsburg, Brooklyn down a street laden with broken buildings and weed-filled, cracked sidewalks, a glimpse into the New Wave era of artists and imagination is on show at the Riviera Gallery. Steamy like a subway vent in the middle of summer, the modest room is packed with young and old, excited to view Wang’s photos at the opening reception and maybe hoping to transport themselves back in time.
By chance, April Palmieri and Deb O’Nair are taken to a moment in time when they partied at the now defunct club. Having no idea they were captured by Wang’s lens, here they are seeing their younger selves in print. In "Playboy Bunny Lounge Night": Barbie and the Heftones perform at the Mudd Club, 1980, April Palmieri dances with the World Trade Center on her head and “Felipe Petite” balancing on his tight rope in-between. Larger-than-life in the poster-size image, Ann Magnuson and Deb O'Nair, "Lady Wrestling Night," 1980, musician, Deb O'Nair smiles alongside the club’s hostess and DJ, Ann Magnuson. Coincidentally, tonight Deb wears a psychedelic pink dress matching the color on the poster's border. It’s just all a bit strange, but seems quite the norm sharing a space with these surreal images.
On display alongside the club scenes are fourteen 11x14 inch silver gelatin prints of the city’s life outside of the party - Son of Sam, Reagan, CBGB’s, a depressed East Village, among them.
Entertaining and inviting, this showing of Harvey Wang’s earlier works represents a subculture that differentiated themselves through style and music. Like the countercultures of Bohemianism and the Beat Generation, this New Wave group of artists, musicians, performers and fashion designers were seeking out a place to express their non-conforming lifestyle of the social norm. Wang captured a Club 57 (and the Mudd Club) where East Villagers went to laugh, forget their cares, live-it-up, and create dreams. Their lifestyle seems lost in today’s world of designer labels, blackberries and it’s-all-about-who-you-know attitude.
Harvey Wang’s 30-plus year career as a photographer focuses on portraiture with 4 books published and one in the works. He chooses people as his subject, because as he says, “it’s a passport to other lives.”
On display at:
July 9-31, 2005
Thursdays, Saturdays, & Sundays from 12-6 pm
103 Metropolitan Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
A special performance by surprise guests from the Club 57 scene is on Thursday, July 28 at 8:00 p.m.
© Copyright Christina M. Hinke 2005. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.