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A Space to Appear, A Space to Tarry

Opening Reception: 

Thursday, June 8th, 6-9pm 

Gallery Hours: 

Saturdays 12-5pm and by appointment

June 8, 2023 - July 8, 2023

Show Catalog

𝐀 𝐒𝐩𝐚𝐜𝐞 t𝐨 𝐀𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐫, 𝐀 𝐒𝐩𝐚𝐜𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐓𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐲 offers an immersive engagement with work from the photographic series “Black Nightclubs of Chicago’s South Side” by the late artist Michael Abramson.


For nearly three consecutive years (1974 - 1977), the photographer Michael Abramson amassed hundreds of images of beer-happy barflies, sharply-dressed couples, and jaunty performers who assembled every night in Black disco nightclubs on the South Side of Chicago. One such club was called Pepper’s Hideout.

Small, square-shaped mirrors were installed on the floral patterned walls of Pepper’s Hideout, which allowed patrons to encounter throughout the night their own reflections/appearances and those of the other club-goers. The establishment’s name—Pepper’s Hideout—prompts us to consider what types of visibility were desired and accessed in a place intended to conceal.

This exhibition considers how the club-goers in Pepper’s Hideout used the mirrors to place themselves in, as scholar Krista Thompson describes, “alternative modes of visibility,” where their bodies linger in this Ellisonian threshold of “hypervisibility and disappearance.” The mirrors in Pepper’s Hideout activated the nightclub as both a space to appear and a space to tarry.


A Space To Appear, A Space To Tarry is curated by Tamir Williams.

Generous support for this exhibition is provided by The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation, University of Pennsylvania.

Tamir Williams (they/them) is a Philadelphia-based independent curator and PhD candidate in the Department of History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania. Their research engages issues of wayward time and temporalities, embodiment, race, gender, sexuality, trans studies, crip theory, and disability studies within contemporary art and American Art (mid 19th c. to early 20th c.). Previously, they have held fellowships, internships, and positions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Research in Feminist, Queer, and Transgender Studies; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; and Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). They hold an MA in History of Art from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BA in American Studies and French from Middlebury College.

Michael Abramson (1948 -2011) was an American photographer best known for his black and white photographs that documented the vibrant nightclubs found on Chicago's South Side during the mid-1970s. Abramson earned an MS in Photography from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and a BA from the Wharton School of Business. His work can be found in the permanent collections of several institutions, such as the Art Institute of Chicago; the Milwaukee Art Museum; Madison Museum of Contemporary Art; the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago; and the California Museum of Photography.

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