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June 13 - June 30

Howl! Happening
6 East 1st Street
New York City, NY 10003 + Google Map

THURSDAY, JUNE 27, 2024, 6:30–7:30PM — FREE

Opening Thursday, June 13, 5–8 PM

Photographers Lola Flash and Alice O’Malley are both veterans of women’s clubs and AIDS activism in 1990s New York. Howl! Happening is pleased to present their individually curated slide shows, primarily featuring images from that indelible decade, displayed on opposite walls of the gallery.

By 1990, photo slide shows had become a nearly instant, affordable way to celebrate queer beauty and militant eroticism within our clubhouses. Group empowerment and reflecting our unity were crucial during those heady years. We railed against censorship and queer phobia, while AIDS ravaged friends, family, and lovers, because we had no effective medicines to suppress it and a government that vilified us. These photographs gave us visibility and strength. Come see.

In addition, the exhibition will feature a constellation of prints from Alice O’Malley’s slide show, along with Lola Flash’s vibrant metal portraits of downtown New York LEGENDS and a trio of images from her surmise series.

Lola Flash, a New Jersey native and longtime figure in New York’s downtown scene, is an activist who documents themes of race, age, and gender. Flash was an active member of ACT UP during the AIDS epidemic in New York City and was notably featured in the 1989 “Kissing Doesn’t Kill” poster. Their art and activism are deeply connected, fueling a lifelong commitment to visibility and preserving the legacy of LGBTQIA+ communities and communities of color worldwide.

Flash has worked as a practicing artist and teacher in the US and UK, with numerous international exhibitions and commissions over the past several decades. Their work is included in significant public collections such as the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, MoMA, the Whitney, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, inviting audiences to not only look but truly see.

Alice O’Malley worked as a coat checker at the Clit Club in the early ’90s, a renowned BIPOC-centered lesbian nightclub in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. Unaware of the club’s no-camera policy, she photographed patrons using high-speed black-and-white film, often in the corridors of the club’s basement rooms.

Over the next decade, O’Malley documented live performances on late-night stages at venues such as the Pyramid, Jackie 60, Squeezebox, Club Casanova, and other downtown parties. This explosion of queer nightlife occurred against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis, which devastated the community and claimed the lives of many close friends and creatives. Comrades from the previous night’s parties would find each other in the daylight, rallying against the government’s failed response to the crisis, chanting in the streets, “ACT UP! Fight Back! Fight AIDS!”

O’Malley is an image maker best known for her portraits of New York’s queer demimonde. Her photographs are exhibited and published widely, and she teaches at the International Center of Photography.

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