Synopses & Reviews
Gerard H. Gaskin's radiant color and black-and-white photographs take us inside the culture of house balls, underground events where gay and transgender men and women, mostly African American and Latino, come together to see and be seen. At balls, high-spirited late-night pageants, members of particular andquot;housesandquot;andmdash;the House of Blahnik, the House of Xtravaganzaandmdash;andquot;walk,andquot; competing for trophies in categories based on costume, attitude, dance moves, and andquot;realness.andquot; In this exuberant world of artistry and self-fashioning, people often marginalized for being who they are can flaunt and celebrate their most vibrant, spectacular selves.
From the quiet backstage, to the shimmering energies of the runway. to the electricity of the crowd, Gaskin's photographs take us to the ball. Legendary, comprised of photos taken at events in the New York city area, Philadelphia, Richmond, and Washington, D.C., is a collaboration between Gaskin, a camera-laden outsider who has been attending balls for twenty years, and the house members who let him enter the intimate world of ball culture. In addition to an introduction by Deborah Willis, Legendary includes an essay, andquot;The Queer Undercommons,andquot; by Frank Roberts.
andldquo;Tens across the board! Photographer Gerard H. Gaskinand#39;s new book Legendary provides a vivid pictorial examination of contemporary ball culture.andrdquo;
andldquo;A lovingly devised coffee table book, winner of a now well established photography prize, Legendary, welcomes you into a fabulous world. This hall of mirrors is akin to the dazzling Emerald City of andlsquo;some where over the rainbowandrsquo; fame.andrdquo;
andldquo;Photographer Gerard H. Gaskin has put on a gorgeous show in his impressive new photo book. . . . Gaskinand#39;s collection of portraits of the primarily African-American and Latino queer competitive drag scene is both a work of art and of history, documenting drag andlsquo;housesandrsquo; (or families) in New York and across the country as they strive for the most andlsquo;realnessandrsquo; in categories ranging from butch to femme and beyond.andrdquo;
is a beautiful, lavish portrayal of underground house ball culture . . . . For the ball walkers, who are limited in how they can express themselves in their everyday lives, Legendary honors the possibility of a truer self, performed.andrdquo;
andquot;Gaskinand#39;s awareness of the effect the performers have on the audience is a crucial aspect of his vision. Through his lens, he conveys the showmanship these actors and artists exude, their knowingness of the spectacle created by their flair. . . . He shows us the power the performers have to reveal themselves through spectacle, to challenge viewers to recognize this display of selfhood. Regardless of our walks of life, we are all looking for safe spaces to express ourselves. Legendary allows us to bear witness to a group of people who are courageous enough to create their safe space.andquot;
Legendaryy features Gerard H. Gaskin's radiant color and black-and-white photographs of house balls, underground pageants where gay and transgender men and women, mostly African American and Latino, come together to see and be seen.
About the Author
Gerard H. Gaskin, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, earned a B.A. from Hunter College in 1994 and is now a freelance photographer based in the greater New York City area. His photos have appeared in the New York Times, Newsday, Black Enterprise, OneWorld, Teen People, Caribbean Beat, and DownBeat. Among his other clients are the record companies Island, Sony, Def Jam, and Mercury. Gaskin's photographs have been featured in solo and group exhibitions across the United States and abroad, and his work is held in the collections of such institutions as the Museum of the City of New York and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.