“It’s just five letters, and the word just means so many different things to so many people. I don’t want to say it’s controversial, but it’s a word that has so many people asking, “What the hell is [Chris] going to be showing?”
The word which photographer Christopher Makos is alluding to is Dirty, the title he gave to his forthcoming exhibition at Daniel Cooney Fine Art. In the age of Covid-19, adjectives such as “dirty,” “filthy,” or “contaminated,” often correlate to a negative connotation, especially in a germy city like New York. Yet when it came to figuring out what to call his latest show, the word “dirty” presented itself to Makos as an ingenious marketing opportunity, like a drop of Purell in the palm of his hand. “It was effective in the way that I wanted it to be effective,” he says.
Despite its polarizing namesake, the former Interview staffer is tickled with anticipation at the prospect of bringing patrons together to view his latest exhibition in a safe and soundly manner starting Friday, September 17. Makos, along with Daniel Cooney, the gallery’s owner and the curator of the show, will welcome guests in small groups of 8-10 people at a time at the West 26th Street hub. Reservations will be required and so are face masks. “I like the idea [of smaller viewings] because in the past, a hundred people show up [at exhibitions] and it’s chaotic and you don’t actually get to speak to anyone,” he says. “It’s brand new territory for all of us, but I’m confident it will be great. If you’re here in [New York City], everybody’s so polite. We all care for each other. It’s baked into the cake as New Yorkers. We’ve had to live in tight quarters with each other forever, so this is just an extension of what’s already part of us.”
The close encounters gallery-goers will experience will certainly parallel the intimacy presented within the artworks in the show. After months of social-distancing, some visitors may even consider the collection positively claustrophobic. With its survey of shots featuring stolen kisses and tight embraces between the likes of Liza Minelli and John Lennon, it’s evident that Cooney wanted to create an air of affection in his curation. After all, isn’t that we’ve all been craving for? In a city shuttering its doors left and right, Dirty is a reminder that there was once glamour and grit, and a closeness amongst friends and strangers in New York, and beyond. With Makos still walking these streets, perhaps Dirty is also a glimmer that these things will be attainable once again and the photographer will be there to capture our future moments of tenderness. Until then, the artist shares some exclusive anecdotes on his works from the exhibition below.