The Soft Fence
June 6–30, 2019
Artist talk: Saturday, June 8, 3:00 PM
“When I hear Black men say they don’t cry, is this genuine? Has hardness forced the tears from them permanently? Are they able?... How many men in our community are flailing beneath the weight of their performances, and what are the real life consequences?”
In The Soft Fence, Gioncarlo Valentine explores what is beyond the wall of performative hypermasculinity within Black culture. Having grown up queer and femme-presenting, Valentine’s work is influenced by his desire to understand the experiences of straight men in his community and the standards of masculinity imposed on them. These photographs are “a series of questions about access, performance, proximity, Black manhood, and Black brotherhood,” in which Valentine asks viewers to question where the performance begins and ends, and what preconceived ideas they may have about his subjects.
Gioncarlo Valentine (b. 1990) is an American documentary/portraiture photographer and writer currently based in New York. Valentine hails from Baltimore City and attended Towson University in Maryland. His work focuses on issues faced by marginalized populations, most often focusing his lens on the experiences of Black/LGBTQIA+ communities. Valentine was named a 2018 En Foco Photography Fellow and was a member of the 2018 class of Skowhegan's School of Painting and Sculpture. He is a contributing photographer for The New York Times and has had his work published in Propublica, The Fader, Essence, THEM, Harpers Bazaar, and Newsweek, among other publications.