Beginning in the early 1970s—as underrepresented groups were demanding new forms of visibility following the emergence of political movements such as Black Power and the Stonewall Rebellion—a handful of British and American photo-driven alternative magazines came on the scene.
The Face, i-D, Rags, Out/Look, and other new publications amplified marginalized voices, especially those of queer makers and makers of color, and made room for those makers to question who and what was accepted as mainstream. These publications introduced a hybrid model within the magazine industry: combining the high production standards and engagement with fashion of “powerhouse” publications such as Vogue and Life with the use of collage in zines and the text/image provocations of underground newspapers. In the end, these alternative magazines transformed their industry.
This exhibition brings together over 130 magazines as well as photographs and time-based media works that evidence how these publications, by prizing formal experimentation and generating new affiliations across identities, challenged mainstream definitions of culture and belonging. Jamel Shabazz’s photographs of Black and Latinx communities and Nicola Tyson’s images of a London gay and lesbian club demonstrate how artistic practices, including the practice of circulation, evolved into photographic genres in magazines such as The Source and Blitz. Bill Cunningham’s work in early Details and Picture Newspaper and Peter Hujar’s street photography celebrated styles born on the street, rather than defined by the fashion industry.
Art Institute Chicago
Michigan Avenue Entrance
111 South Michigan Avenue
Modern Wing Entrance
159 East Monroe Street
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