Sheldon Nadelman: Terminal Portraits, 1972-1982

A solo exhibition of New York photographer Sheldon Nadelman’s Terminal Bar portraits. Staged at The Old Science Museum, Birmingham, July 23 – August 7, 2010..
Curated by Morgan Quaintance

From 1972-1982 Sheldon Nadelman shot over 2,500 photographs during his stint as a tender in New York’s Terminal Bar: one of the toughest dives on Manhattan’s 8th street. Using his 35mm Pentax camera, set to 1600 ASA, Nadelman utilised the natural light available to capture the clientele who frequented the bar. In the ten-year duration of Nadelman’s undertaking, a steady stream of Irish Longshoremen, Pimps, Drag Queens, and African American gay males came through Terminal’s Doors. Nadelman made a point of photographing everybody, without discrimination. Some subjects would return while other, more dangerous or tragic figures, would only wander in for the one sitting.

Nadelman managed to capture a kind of guileless truth within his portraiture. It is a result that is seldom seen amongst contemporary subjects, all to aware of the power of projection. No instruction was given to the people who sat for portraits, allowing for their own particular types of subjectivity to shine through. The steely-eyed glare of a pimp in one is swiftly followed by a tender look in the eyes of another: drag queens stare out in defiant poise. There is no uniformity to typology, no conformity to stereotype, no uncomfortable exploitation of exoticism. What is present in Nadelman’s portraiture are all the contradictions of human nature frozen in time.

For the first time in the UK TROVE, in association with curator Morgan Quaintance, will be showing 810 Nadelman portraits, alongside interview footage, in which Nadelman delves into the particular histories of certain photographs and their subjects.

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