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Poignant Photos of Uninhibited Gay Sunbathers in 1980s Chicago

When Doug Ischar captured gay male sunbathers on Chicago’s Belmont Rocks beach, now a defunct social hot spot, he wanted to push the boundaries of “gay photography” out of the studio setting and instill a social context. Marginal Waters was shot during the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, when visibility amongst the gay community was under threat, and the specter of the disease surrounded Ischar’s tan subjects. The works reveal a beautiful, uninhibited intimacy shared between men as Ischar’s lingering lens contemplates the poetics of loss. The nearly 30-year-old images feel surprisingly contemporary. Their context continues to be explored through Ischar’s experimental films and installations — and in a recent survey of Ischar’s career at Gallery 44 in Toronto. See more of Ischar’s sunbathers, courtesy of Golden Gallery, below.

Courtesy of the artist and Golden Gallery, Inc.

Courtesy of the artist and Golden Gallery, Inc.

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