Gabriel Martinez

Life Dates
born 1967

Martinez’s work features historical photographs of gay couples from the 1970s and 1980s, and a world of places that have changed in radical ways: a disco, a protest march, a bar scene. When they were created, these photographs did not circulate outside of gay publications. Martinez discusses his work:

"During my research at the John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives at the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia, I discovered a few boxes containing a collection of gelatin silver prints by the late Harry Eberlin. He documented the LGBTQ movement in Philadelphia during the 1970s and was the first staff photographer for the Philadelphia Gay News. I respectfully handled these photos as I documented them within the various spaces of the archives. I then printed them and sealed the surface of the original Eberlin image with lightly hand-tinted archival film and tape. I was interested in the allusion to mending and healing. These original Eberlin photographs are an important document of our history and their preservation is imperative. Lately, I’ve been specifically focused on queer history, particularly the time between the Stonewall riots and the beginning of the AIDS crisis in 1981. I’m thinking about this specific period in queer culture—the need for community and the need for camaraderie, a time of sexual liberation and experimentation, a time of activism. I look back at the ’70s with a great sense of admiration and empathy. It was a time of intense struggle, but also of outrageous courage and creativity."

Martinez works largely with photography, performance, and installation. He has been awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship, and two individual artist grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He has created performance-oriented events and installations for numerous venues in Philadelphia, New York, and Miami. Martinez is represented by Samson in Boston.

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