Last night, Isa Brito had Milk Gallery oozing with nostalgia. Brito began her excavation of New York’s underground club scene in 1984 when she moved to New York City from Brazil. Her black and white photographs, combined with the thumping grooves provided by Justin Strauss and Justin Miller at the opening, transported attendees to the gritty dance parties at the Tunnel or Limelight. Her photographic style is improvisational and impulsive, finding equal importance in the desolate waterfront at North 6th Street in Williamsburg and 1989’s famed Love Ball.
Regardless of the alterations in the scene, the strength in Brito’s imagery comes from what she extracts from her subjects. She captures the natural charm of two drag queens waiting in line for the bathroom as effortlessly as she does Woody Allen’s awkwardness at a fundraising event. Her effervescent personality unlocks the oyster shell that encases the essence of her subjects, a pearl that is both extreme, concentrated, and usually bedazzled or sequined. Her subjects are in their element and own it.
Dancers, transsexuals, and drag queens are empowered rather than discarded. Many subjects peer directly into her lens, providing silent disclosure translated by one who respects and admires them. Comically enough, the rare glimpse of the “normal” worker-bees in the city are completely disorienting. In the midst of transit or an unnamed meeting at a hotel, these individuals are drones: alien, absurd, and aimless. Brito’s photographs, conceived out of pure passion and a love for the scene, connected her with innumerable interplanetary souls. The opening surged with good vibes, coy grins, and the joy of unexpected comedy to be found on every street corner. The style, attitude, and sense of community are testaments to the strength of Brito’s capabilities and the New York City of yesteryear.
We’d like to thank our friends at Six Point for providing the amazing refreshments.
Photos by: Masha Maltsava
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