May 27, 2005
Harvey Wang, Photographer
CLUB 57 WHERE ARE YOU?
Harvey Wang's Photographs of the Legendary East Village Club 1979-1983
July 9-31, 2005
Thursdays, Saturdays, & Sundays from 12-6 pm
103 Metropolitan Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
NEW YORK, MAY 27, 2005 - On display for the first time, this selection of photographs gives 21st century New Yorkers a glimpse of an artistic and cultural watershed moment in the city's storied past: the East Village New Wave scene of the 1980's. Club 57 was one of the venues at the epicenter of that scene, which now takes on a certain mystique due to the virtual extinction of true counter-culture in New York City today. At Club 57, an eclectic mix of artists, performers, fashion designers, musicians, and eccentrics celebrated absurdity and pure creativity within a completely non-commercial and uninhibited social milieu that was unique in the city's history.
Harvey Wang, just 23 when he began to photograph Club 57, frequented the club regularly and documented many of the events and personalities unique to it. As part of the stable of Club 57 regulars, Wang unofficially played the role of 'official photographer.' Included in the exhibition are photographs taken on "Lady Wrestling Night," "Elvis Memorial Night," "Playboy Bunny Lounge Night," and "Putt-Putt Reggae Night," among others, often showing Club 57 founder and 'artistic director' Ann Magnuson in her role as performer/hostess. Countless others were regulars, including co-founders Tom Scully and Susan Hannaford, Keith Haring, Klaus Nomi, John Sex, Wendy Wild, Kenny Scharf, Joey Arias, Tseng Kwong Chi, Tom Rubnitz, David McDermott, Peter McGough, and Fab Five Freddy. To illustrate the club's habitat, the exhibition also includes a number of Wang's photographs from throughout the city - a New York that was economically depressed and crime-ridden at the dawn of the Reagan era.
Wang's photographs provide a stark, dramatic record of nights at Club 57 that many remember only dimly. Wang was remarkably prescient. As he documented the scene, he had a sense that the club was an incubator of ideas that would ultimately have far-reaching significance. Indeed, Club 57 continues to influence club culture, fashion, music, art, and literature. The entire East Village New Wave scene has been mythologized and romanticized, and, like Woodstock, people wish they could say they were 'there,' in one of those blink-and-you-miss-it moments of American history that changes the course of mainstream culture. This exhibition of Harvey Wang's photographs gives us an intimate view of one of those tipping points, in its heyday, before AIDS began to decimate the ranks of the scene's most creative people, and before many of Club 57's regulars began to go their separate ways and enjoy commercial and economic success.
The exhibition will be on view at the Riviera Gallery in Brooklyn, New York. Gallery hours are from noon to 6 p.m. every Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from July 9-31. The opening reception will be held on Thursday, July 14 from 8-11 p.m., and there will be a special performance on Thursday, July 28 at 8 p.m. by surprise guests from the Club 57 scene. For more information, visit www.seeyouattheriviera.com.