June 28, 2019 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, an event widely considered to have sparked the beginning of the gay rights movement. That night in 1969 when police crashed through the doors of the Stonewall Inn in New York, the lesbians, gays, transgender people, and drag queens refused to go quietly, literally fighting back and imprisoning the police within the bar they had come to shut down. This rebellion against long-standing oppression and authority began to shine a light on the queer community, initiating a shift towards visibility and liberation. In this exhibition Jonah Samson has printed a collection of black-and-white negatives discovered on eBay. These intimate photographs of a group of gay men together at a beach house from the pre-Stonewall era were likely never intended to be seen: hidden away for years and badly damaged. Encased in red boxes, as if in their own private darkroom, these images are now able to shine like jewels.
“What is not certain, absolutely certain, that night prevents what day permits, for those who know how to go about it, who have the will to go about it, and the strength, the strength to try again. Yes, it will be night, the mist will clear.” —Samuel Beckett