Date of Submission

Spring 2019

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Art History

Project Advisor 1

Laurie Dahlberg

Abstract/Artist's Statement

My senior thesis is an analysis of gay space from the late 1970s to 1980s New York, and I’m questioning how themes of private vs. public, accessibility, race, and economic status dictated where one searched for gay self-expression and community in the built environment. In order to understand how queer spaces functioned architecturally and socially, I’ve chosen to research two opposites: The Saint and the west side piers. The former was a private club in New York City from 1980-1988 and was considered to be the “Vatican of Disco” with a planetarium that could hold over a thousand men, two bars, and top of the line sound and lighting systems. As a result of its architectural and technological advancements, the Saint was able to blur reality and manufacture a new dimension of interaction where society's rules didn’t exist at least for a select crowd of wealthy white men. On the other hand, the piers, the democratic ruins of the west side, were open to all: gay, straight, black, white, and they were frequented for sex, drugs, and artistic intervention. The piers weren’t about escaping reality, rather it was a space where one could explore gay identity in the crumbling outskirts of New York by anonymously cruising or sunbathing with friends on the concrete beach. Ultimately, by analyzing these two spaces, I plan to explore the various meanings and forms gay space takes, and consider how spaces like these have been both memorialized and forgotten over time.

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