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John Waters: Indecent Exposure

It has been more than 50 years since John Waters (American, b. 1946) filmed his first short, Hag in a Black Leather Jacket. The set was the roof of his parents’ Baltimore home, and the action, shot on stock stolen by a friend, involved an interracial marriage. Over the following decades, Waters’ reputation as an uncompromising cultural force has grown not only in the cinematic field, but also through his visual artwork, writing, and performances. This major retrospective organized by the BMA examines the artist’s influential career through more than 160 photographs, sculpture, soundworks, and video he has made since the early 1990s. These works deploy Waters’ renegade humor to reveal the ways that mass media and celebrity embody cultural attitudes, moral codes, and shared tragedy.


Exhibition highlights include a photographic installation in which Waters explores the auras and absurdities of famous films and a suite of photographs and sculptures that propose humor as a way to humanize dark moments in history from the Kennedy assassination to 9/11. Waters also manipulates images of less-than-sacred, low-brow cultural references—Elizabeth Taylor’s hairstyles, Justin Bieber’s preening poses, his own self-portraits—and pictures of individuals brought into the limelight through his films, including his counterculture muse, Divine. Other themes explored in the exhibition include the artist’s childhood and identity, a satirical consideration of the contemporary art world, and the transgressive power of images. The exhibition concludes with a gallery of ephemera and examples of Waters’ earliest films, presented in peep-show format. The exhibition catalogue, co-published by University of California Press, features essays by BMA Senior Curator of Contemporary Art Kristen Hileman; art historian and activist Jonathan David Katz; and critic, curator, and artist Robert Storr; as well as an interview with Waters by artist Wolfgang Tillmans.

Sunday, January 6 at 10:00am to 5:00pm

Baltimore Museum of Art
10 Art Museum Dr, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA

Event Type

Arts & Culture




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