This book offers the first career retrospective of Brian Weil (1954–1996), an artist whose photographs pushed viewers into a deeply unsteadying engagement with insular communities and subcultures. A younger contemporary of such participant-observer photographers as Larry Clark and Nan Goldin, Weil took photographs that foreground the complex relationships between photographer and subject, and between photograph and viewer.
Weil was a member of ACT UP and the founder of New York City’s first needle exchange, and his photographs became inextricably tied to his activist practice. His late work, an extensive series of portraits whose subjects bear witness to the emerging AIDS pandemic, is included here, along with selections from several earlier and concurrent projects: Sex (underground sex and bondage participants), Miami Crime (homicide scenes investigated by the Miami Police Department), Hasidim (populations of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn and the Catskills), and an extensive video project with members of nascent transgender support groups.
This book commemorates a 2013 exhibition of Brian Weil’s work at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania and includes in-depth essays on Weil by Stamatina Gregory and Jennifer Burris, an interiew with the artist by Claudia Gould, and reprints of archival edited notes discussing crime and photographic evidence based on a series of interviews conducted by Sylvère Lotringer with filmmaker George Diaz in the 1980s.