Eric Robinson’s “Leathermen” at QIY: Queer It Yourself – Big Gay Art Show

Eric Robinson and "Leathermen" at Las Manos Gallery in Chicago

Eric Robinson’s wet-plate ambrotypes will be showing as part of QIY: Queer It Yourself, which opens Saturday at SOMArts. The exhibit presents alternative, queer, do-it-yourself processes and projects, collaborations, zines, posters, green architecture, activist interventions and recuperations of low-tech media. Robinson took his 19th century kit (big awkard camera, portable darkroom, an array of chemicals, beakers and trays…) to the Dore “Up Your Alley” Fair in 2010, supplementing a series of portraits of Leathermen that he began the previous year. Images from that series will be on exhibit. More on Robinson here, here, here and here.

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Robinson at work making wet-plate ambrotypes. These one-of-a-kind photographs on glass were common during the mid 19th century. As it disappears into the digital realm, this work reminds us of the physical, chemical and optical origins of photography. At the same time, generic conventions suggest that “fetish” photography should be slick and polished, suitable for publication in magazines, and “straight” in the photographic sense. These images kick that cliche, their hand-hewn aesthetic underscoring the sense that we are looking into not only the history of photography, but that of Leather. Old Guard all around…

QIY is part of the National Queer Arts Festival. This year’s theme is A Sustainable Queer Planet. More on the festival here and more soon. QIY opens Saturday, June 4th with a reception from 1pm until 4pm. SOMArts is located at 934 Brannan at 8th St. in San Francisco. The gallery is tucked under the freeway, just to the east of the Trader Joe’s complex.

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