Exhibition

John Stezaker. The Voyeur: Photoroman Collages, 1976–1979

10 Nov 2017 – 6 Jan 2018

Petzel Gallery Uptown

New York
New York, United States

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Petzel Gallery is pleased to announce a solo exhibition by London-based artist John Stezaker. This is the artist’s fifth solo exhibition with the gallery and his first at our Upper East Side location.

About

Stezaker first came across photoromans on a trip to Italy in 1973. Attracted by their modern, colorful aesthetic he began collecting them, but it was not until he discovered the Spanish iterations that Stezaker’s collages took off. The female-orientated romantic plots of the black and white Spanish photoromans were similar to their Italian counterparts, but where the Iberian ones differed, was in their slight bent toward soft porn; seemingly with a male audience in mind. Titillating shower scenes and other narrative intrusions often culminated in violence. As the male invaded the female domain, either accidentally or secretly as a voyeur, the intrusion was often mirrored by a visual disruption of the vertical grid of frames on the page. “Sex and love,” Stezaker writes, “seemed incompatible in these claustrophobic boxed narratives”. This unsettlingly and alluring dichotomy became the driving force for the photoroman collages Stezaker produced in the latter part of the 1970s.

The kiss—central to the photoroman narrative, and also as Stezaker notes, “cinema’s most ubiquitous still image of itself”—dominates these collages. As a euphemism for sexual consummation, the kiss simultaneously represents sex and is part of it. “I thought of this as a kind of leak between the simulacral and the real,” Stezaker explains, “a realization that in order to enact a kiss, the actors must kiss, converting a stereotypical trope into an object of voyeurism…Where cinema promises a space in which reality and illusion seamlessly dissolve, the photoroman was an opportunity for me to explore the seams.”

Exhibiting artists

John Stezaker

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