Entertainment » Fine Arts

Robert Zash Exhibits Erotic Photography on Valentine’s Day

by Steve Weinstein
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Feb 12, 2013

The name Robert Zash may or may not ring any bells. But if you have attended the Black Party, you have undoubtedly seen his impromptu studio downstairs at Roseland Ballroom, opposite the coat check. There, amidst the mayhem, Zash and his assistants diligently take portraits of attendees who want to preserve the moment (as well as those outrageously sexy outfits).

The other 364 days of the years, Zash works as a professional photographer whose black-and-white works illustrate the beauty of the human body (especially the male variety).

On the night of Valentine's Day, from 7 p.m. until midnight, Zash is putting the best of his works on display at the Darren Wallace Studio, 155 W. 29th St., between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, Third Floor. The reason for the exhibit is a sad one: to help Zash fund the emergency restoration and preservation of his immense digital-image library.

Zash is in a desperate race to save over 350,000 images from certain destruction. On Jan. 24, without warning, one of his file server's eight hard drives stopped responding. Luckily, the failed drive was the least populated of the cluster; yet still an estimated 20,000 (!) digital files disappeared.

Professional data recovery is extremely expensive but must be done in order to save the images. Has Robert ever made a photo of someone you know? Its digital original may have been on this drive! Almost a decade old, all of the hard drives in his file server as well as the server itself must be replaced immediately; failure of the rest of the system is imminent.

By the time he was 19, Zash had already participated in four group photography shows and had three solo gallery exhibitions in Connecticut and Westchester County, where he grew up. Zash attended the School of Visual Arts; one year later, he established the annual Black Party Portrait Studio. To date, he has made over as astonishing 5,000 portraits of attendees.

In 2003, he opened his own studio. He is currently working on several large projects for publication and exhibition.

Zash sees the human body as a simple form or a complex arrangement of shadow and light, reminiscent of a landscape, or abstracted beyond familiarity. For him, "images of the body can express limitless emotion and personality."

Photographs of individuals, couples, and groups are both romantic and frank. The images are explorations of representation and celebration of real sex that challenge the boundary between fine art and pornography.

One of the highlights of the show will be "Urban Jungle." The only non-erotic image in the show, it's 12 feet long and is the largest such print Zash has ever made.

For more information on this one-night-only event, go to http://www.facebook.com/events/465184340201301/. Note that, because of the explicit content of some of the photos, admission is limited to those 21 or over.

Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early '80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).


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