22 Feb 2017 – 1 Apr 2017

PNI, London

Hal Fischer

Gay Semiotics

Installation view: Gay Semiotics

Installation view: Gay Semiotics

Installation view: Gay Semiotics

Installation view: Gay Semiotics

Gay Semiotics
1977, printed 2014
Carbon pigment print; 24 prints in handmade case with denim covering
Each print:: 20 × 16 inches (50.80 × 40.64 cm)
Edition of 45

Installation view: Gay Semiotics

Installation view: Gay Semiotics

Installation view: Gay Semiotics

Gay Semiotics
1977, printed 2014
Carbon pigment print; 24 prints in handmade case with denim covering
Each print:: 20 × 16 inches (50.80 × 40.64 cm)
Edition of 45

Installation view: Gay Semiotics

Installation view: Gay Semiotics

Boy-Friends
1979, printed 2016
Carbon pigment print; 10 print pairs in handmade case with denim covering
Each print:: 8 × 10 inches (20.32 × 25.40 cm)
Edition of 45

Boy-Friends
1979, printed 2016
Carbon pigment print; 10 print pairs in handmade case with denim covering
Each print:: 8 × 10 inches (20.32 × 25.40 cm)
Edition of 45

 

It’s about personal desire; it’s a lexicon of attraction. And there’s a huge amount of artifice, which was also very deliberate.

--Hal Fischer in conversation with Julia Bryan-Wilson, “Gay Semiotics Revisited,” Aperture (January 2014) pp. 32-39.

 

Project Native Informant presents three seminal bodies of work by artist and critic Hal Fischer (b. 1950). First exhibited at San Francisco’s Lawson de Celle Gallery, Gay Semiotics (1977) is one of the first conceptual works to bring the language of structuralism and linguistics into photographic practice: the series of 24 photographs with embedded texts presents deconstructions of various “hanky codes”—discreet signals of sexual subjectivity and identification—and archetypal media images of gay men in the 1970s. Taken directly from Fischer’s personal experiences living in the vibrant gay communities of San Francisco’s Castro and Haight-Ashbury districts, Gay Semiotics can be read as an analysis of a gay historical vernacular as much as a tongue in cheek appropriation of the theories of Roland Barthes and Claude Levi-Strauss. Boy-Friends (1979) consists of 10 photo text diptychs, pictures of men the artist met: the “flower child/space cadet” who he ziplessly picked up one evening and the “punk poet” with whom he shared a “Rimbaud/Verlaine rapport”. Both series mark Fischer’s insistence on the visual equivalence of word and image and connects the artist to the loose Photography and Language group that originated with Lew Thomas and included Lutz Bacher, Donna-Lee Phillips, and others working in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In addition, Project Native Informant will exhibit A Salesman (1979). Originally commissioned through a National Endowment for the Arts-funded exhibition organized by the Eyes and Ears Foundation, the billboard appeared on Market Street in San Francisco’s Castro district. A Salesman was, and remains, intentionally ambiguous about its role as an advertisement, offering the juxtaposition of a reclining male nude and a cryptic phone number in lieu of commercial content. Fischer’s images are “deliberately banal”, connecting him to current contemporary artists such as the collective DIS or Roe Etheridge, who appropriate commercial photography to address personal and political concerns.

On 17 February 2017 18:30 – 19:30 a discussion between the artist and Oliver Basciano, International Editor of ArtReview and ArtReview Asia, will take place at the gallery. Admission is free and open to the public. Seating will be limited and on a first come, first served basis.

This exhibition is presented in collaboration with Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles. The gallery thanks Philip Martin for his generous assistance.

 

PRESS / REVIEWS

7 Jun 2017

HFI :: Review of Hal Fischer, Gay Semiotics in Artforum


10 May 2017

HFI :: Don’t Rely on the Tate to Define ‘Queer Art’ – Get Out There and Discover it For Yourself, Swap the dead, white, male Queer British Art for emerging LGBTQ artists


4 Mar 2017

HFI :: CONVERSATIONS Hal Fischer interviewed by Francesco Tenaglia


9 Mar 2017

HFI :: Photographs that Pick Apart Gay Archetypes of the 1970s


4 Mar 2017

HFI :: Sex symbols: what does a blue hankie in your left back pocket mean?


10 Mar 2017

HFI :: Gallery Hopping: Hal Fischer’s Portrait of Gay 1970s San Francisco at Project Native Informant