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Indepth Arts News:

"Gary Lee Boas: Starstruck"
2001-04-12 until 2001-05-26
Photographer's Gallery
London, , UK

Gary Lee Boas' candid snapshots offer us an intriguing view of celebrities between 1966 and 1980. From his teens, sometimes with his mother, other times with fellow autograph hunters, he would travel to New York and wait for hours outside TV talk shows, media events and stage doors, hoping to meet his favourite celebrity. This was the era before John Lennon was shot by a fan and the film star Ronald Reagan became President. Boas lives in the unremarkable blue collar town Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and has spent all his spare time gathering his formidable collection of star paraphernalia. The 550 photographs on show here reveal but a small sample of his 50,000 collection that lie uncatalogued in his home, including letters sent to Boas by the stars, signed newspaper cuttings and other personalised memorabilia.

Through his work, which inhabits an area between fantasy and reality, we can start to examine our fascination with fame. His subject is the complete spectrum of popular media celebrity from porn stars and pageant queens to politicians and actors. Boas - a shy character - talks in an almost predatory way about his ability to catch shots of the stars. From his plethora of anecdotes he has clearly built relationships with the likes of Katharine Hepburn and was even invited to Richard Nixon's funeral; obviously the stars basked in the attention he showered on them. This reciprocal relationship between adoring fan and stars is perfectly illustrated in Boas' shot of himself stood next to Julie Christie - we see a temporary uncanny resemblance - they adopt a similar pose and hairstyles with Boas appearing at ease next to his heroine.

The archival quality of his prints, which are not all in pristine condition lend his photographs an authentic appeal. Today we live in a culture where the democratisation of the star system has all but collapsed the gap between celebrity and normal life. We now crave the glitz and glamour that surrounded Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis and Ingrid Bergman. We have also seen the virtual demise of the traditional autograph hunter replaced by amateur paparazzi keen to sell intrusive glimpses of the famous. Boas' gift is that his work brings back to us an age of innocence that seems now to be lost.

Camilla Jackson
Programme Organiser

IMAGE:
Gary Lee Boas
Bianca Jagger and Andy Warhol
New York City
n.d.


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