About this project
The series of photographs I'm about to describe, "Dancing In the Dragon's Jaws", was made in San Francisco's gay community between 1985 and 1988, just as the first wave of HIV and AIDS was suddenly and unexpectedly crashing onto the Castro. This body of work---53 very big black-and-white prints---will have its debut exhibition at the Jewett Gallery, in the Main Branch of San Francisco's Public Library, on December 1, 2012.
The $9000 in funding I'm seeking will cover the scanning, printing, mounting and shipping of the 53 big black and white prints, as well as the construction of heavy-duty boxes for their transportation to future non-profit venues.
Here's my story:
I began freelancing as a photographer for San Francisco’s local gay press in early 1986, shortly after the death of Rock Hudson brought overnight attention to the scope of the AIDS epidemic. Rather than stalking the stark documentary images of individual carnage that the "straight press" suddenly pursued, the publications I worked for chose to focus on the experience of the gay community at large, because their readers were already too well-aware of bedside vigils and funeral arrangements; they didn’t need their “hometown” weekly to recapitulate that dreary, daily horror.
I spent three years in the Castro District, in the heart of San Francisco's gay community, making photographs of parties, protests, and parades. I covered elections and sit-ins; leather festivals, seances, quilting bees and all-night disco cavalcades, one after the next. I shot black-and-white film in great bulk, and processed negatives in my kitchen sink and made prints in a darkroom on the back porch, holding back the daylight with curtains of felt and ribbons of duct tape. And then I threw those negatives into folders and drawers, wiped the slate clean, and raced away down Mission Street to deliver my pictures to editors and designers, waiting anxiously.
Twenty-five years later, I've finally rehabilitated that menagerie of celluloid, which has long lived in banker's boxes and fruit cartons and moved with me from apartment to house to garage a dozen times. In early 2008 I began searching-out and organizing those rolls of film from my mid-80s sojourn in San Francisco; I started making electronic contact sheets on a flatbed scanner that summer and fall, and edited throughout the winter of 2009. That April I started scanning what I thought were the best of those pictures, and once a year since then I've revisited those contacts to cull what I might've missed the last time. Just this past June, in fact, I found three really great frames that I'd somehow overlooked on all those other editing forays.
Early this year, Joan Jasper and her staff at the San Francisco Public Library's Central Branch invited me to show a large selection of those archival photographs in their flagship exhibition hall, the Jewett Gallery. It's a huge room---in excess of 1400 square feet!---and I expect to get between 50 and 55 pictures onto those walls. The sizes of my prints will range from17x22" to 40x50", with most of them being 24x32".
This whole project can be viewed on my website, http://www.allemanphoto.com
Risks and challenges
The challenge before me is apparent, as is the great opportunity: this historic body of work will soon make it's debut in a room that's large enough to display it in real depth, with big, cool prints that can be really smashing and dramatic. But all that grooviness---the size and beauty of the prints, the sheer number of them, the necessity to present them in a way that befits the elegant environs---makes this undertaking a very pricey one for a single individual to mount on his own.
Which is where you-all come in, of course. Printing, preparing, transporting and presenting these 50-plus big-ass prints will cost $9000. There's very little guesswork or risk involved in the prospects for this project's success; I'm not asking for you to bless a long-shot with your donations, or fund my pie-in-the-sky. Indeed, this project has nearly completed it's journey, and I'm moving full-speed-ahead with my plans for this exhibition, because the clock is ticking, for sure. But I firmly believe that my faith in the great promise of this project, and in the generosity of you Kickstarters, is well-placed, and that "Dancing In The Dragon's Jaws" will look like a million bucks when it's debut moment arrives on December First at the Jewett Gallery in San Francisco. Hope to see you there!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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