Brooklyn Museum

Studio54 Night Magic

Gastbeitrag aus New York

Meryl Meisler is sharing thoughts about »Man Carries Judi Jupiter (Film Dress by Meryl), 1978«:

When my friend Judi Jupiter and I frequented Studio 54, I often helped create her fashion attire for the evening. I’d usually bring my medium format camera and  take photos while dancing the night away. The next day I would develop the B&W film in my makeshift darkroom. If my camera was in repair, I would bring a 35mm with color slide film and send the film out to be processed. The negatives were put in pages and labeled with location, month, year and names of some characters and parties. The slides were kept in their boxes and labeled similarly. I didn’t look back, edit or show the disco and other large bodies of work for decades. In retrospect, I realize I’ve been keeping a private visual diary. 

One night in July 1978 I created Judi’s dress using discarded backing paper that protected the B&W film when it was still on the rolls. My medium format camera must have been jammed, so I took the 35mm. The photo is a bit off focus, but the memory is clear as can be. 

March 11, 2020 was the artists and patrons’ reception for Studio54 Night Magic. The place was packed and the energy high. News of 52 people in NYC becoming sick with Covid 19 inspired air kisses and elbow bumps rather than handshakes, hugs and kisses on the cheek. I brought along the same medium format camera, flash and film I used in the ’70s to document some of the attendees who truly followed the suggested dress code: fabulous. There was a DJ, and I stayed until the song »Last Dance« signaled the last dance of the evening. I sensed this would be the last big opening reception for quite a while.

March 12th, the Brooklyn Museum and most other cultural institutions around NYC announced they were closing on March 13th, the day this exhibit was scheduled to open to the public. Studio54 Night Magic, a ground breaking exhibition about the bygone era before the AIDS epidemic is now frozen in time because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

When it is safe, the Brooklyn Museum and other cultural institutions and galleries will re-open. When the darkroom I use reopens, I’ll develop my film from opening night. Until then, time stands still. We all have to do our part by staying home and using social distancing to stop the virus spread. The arts and humanities help us get through these days of isolation. May the world’s scientists and medical experts work together and guide our governments to lead us through these difficult times for the health and safety of all humanity. 

Meryl Meisler

Exhibition Studio54 Night Magic, Brooklyn Museum, New York
Originally scheduled March 13, 2020 – July 5, 2020

Studio 54 Night Magic is curated and designed by Matthew Yokobosky, Senior Curator of Fashion and Material Culture, Brooklyn Museum.

Meryl Meisler (American, born South Bronx, 1951), photographer
Man Carries Judi Jupiter (Film Dress by Meryl), 1978 (printed 2019), Archival color pigment print about Meryl Meisler’s Disco Photos

Meryl Meisler is represented in NY by CLAMPART