Art writer and curator Shana Nys Dambrot covers Gary Baseman’s latest projects, highlighting Nine Lives currently on view in Beijing at Wrong Gallery and the book Nightmares of Halloween Past.
Read the article HERE
Baseman’s collection of vintage photographs of people in masks and costumes, says Dambrot, is a “sharp prism through which to witness American culture and its evolution; many of these images are not only eerie but outright disturbing. Halloween costuming can be a real epicenter of racism, sexism, and cultural appropriation – even to this day – and some of that is in the book, too. Actually that’s how it lost its first publisher, over concerns about those problematic aspects of the discourse, and despite the presence of a good deal of thoughtful personal and scholarly writings [by Phyllis Galembo and Catherine Zuromskis] throughout the hefty, almost 300-page volume.”
Dambrot ends the piece: “Taken together, across the book and the show, what emerges is a more complex portrait of the artist as a young man who lived much of his life anchored in a rich fantasy world of costumes, characters, fantasies, heroic exploits, role play, and a level of mischievous curiosity that instead of killing the cat, gave it life – nine lives, actually.”