Monday, October 21, 2019
KQED ARTS (SAN FRANCISCO) -- Arriving in San Francisco in 1975 to pursue a master’s in photography at SF State, Hal Fischer experienced more than just a change of scenery. “After a few months in San Francisco, and a memorable Halloween with a young Marlon Brando look-alike, I gave up any pretense of bisexuality,” he writes. “I was gay and loving it.” The occasion of Fischer’s delightful look back on the evolution of San Francisco’s gay culture is the publication of “Hal Fischer: The Gay Seventies,” a monograph of Fischer’s photo-text works published by Gallery 16. The book opens with Fischer’s landmark series Gay Semiotics (annotated photographs dissecting gay signifiers, “archetypal media images,” fetishes and street fashion). Part anthropological study, part lampooning of the “Castro clones,” and rigorously yet delightfully conceptual, Gay Semiotics remains as exciting to look at in 2019 as it must have been when Fischer first presented the images in 1977.