“When Studio 54 opened in April [of 1977], there were always throngs waiting and wanting in. To stand out from the crowd, we’d design flamboyant costumes for Judith – a different one every night. We’d sashay up and she’d call out to the doorman, “Marc! Marc!” Then, as if by magic, the red velvet rope would part the crowd, and in we’d go to dance and photograph the night away,” explains photographer Meryl Meisler about her wild days of the 1970’s. Widely known in Bushwick for her amazing and historically invaluable photography of post-Blackout Bushwick, her photography of the decadent disco era days of 1970s New York City will surely surprise you.
“Flash forward several decades and Bushwick is flourishing, with a booming art and nightlife scene. The ‘Bridge and Tunnel folk’ once barred from those velvet ropes and disco doors are now the hip crowd. Still there is a dichotomy, a tale of two cities, with great disparities of income and opportunity in New York, and Bushwick itself,” continues Meryl.
Her disco images have never been shown before, and especially not in juxtaposition with her iconic images of looted Bushwick.
On May 30, 2014, just in time for Bushwick Open Studios, Bizarre’s Black Box gallery will present a photography exhibition and photography book launch titled Meryl Meisler’s Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick.
“Meryl did amazing pictures in all the clubs in Manhattan in the 70’s, in contrast with the destroyed Bushwick in the 80’s. We are really proud to release this book, it’s gonna be great,” Jean-Stephane Sauvaire, one of Bizarre’s co-owners, said via email. Bizarre will also present a big disco night party for the book release, with DJs spinning disco, performers on stage in an homage to the era of Studio 54, Grace Jones, and Andy Warhol. Naturally there will be a drag queen performance, a circus show, burlesque, screenings and more. “We will have disco ball, lights and disco music for the exhibition. The idea is not to just stare at photographs on white walls,” added Jean-Stephane.
If you guys didn’t already know, Bizarre is fearlessly growing. Today, the place is not only a unique Bushwick meets French night club meets disco era bar (and a really good restaurant for that matter), it is also a ground floor gallery space, Black Box and Bizarre Publishing, which specializes in photography art books. Meryl Meisler’s book will be their second release. The first one was Modern Lovers by Stéphane Gizard; to be followed by All About Love by Jean-Christain Bourcart with a preface by Nan Goldin, planned for September 2014. It will feature photography of S&M clubs in Paris and New York.
Meryl Meisler’s Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick photography exhibition and a book launch is planned on May 30, 2014 at Bizarre’s Black Box gallery.