As soon as I saw Ash Ngu’s photograph One Night, Danny, I was electrified with its pulsing portrayal of a simple yet undeniably intimate moment. It shows two men leaning together with foreheads touching and mouth open in anticipation. Since they are in silhouette against a lush neon red background, their individual features are indistinguishable. Instead, they are defined by the mere limits of their bodies and how these limits are being fused together. With this fusion and lack of emphasis on individual characteristics, these two men do not seem to be interested in each other simply as superficial bodily objects. Instead, they are two humans caught in a truthful moment of deeper connection.
The intimacy present in this piece reminds me of Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss. In this painting, a couple is embracing in bed, surrounded by an incredibly rich golden hue that is similar to the red lighting in this photo. When I saw the painting myself, I appreciated its aura of romance but didn’t have a visceral sense of the couple’s heterosexual connection. However, with One Night, Danny, I instantly felt a sense of liberation in seeing a work that captured a queer romantic experience with such intensity and truth. This reaction was a welcome relief to the representations of queer attraction that I often encounter that feel only skin-deep. When I come across portrayals that capture something deeper, I am relieved by their reminder that real queer romance does exist.
Image courtesy of Ash Ngu (ashngu.com).
This piece is currently on display at the Stanford Art Gallery as part of the 3rd Annual Undergraduate Juried Art Exhibition until December 4, 2016.
Scribbles is a series of student reactions to art at Stanford, the Bay Area, or the world at large. Originally conceived as a project responding to the Anderson Collection and modern art, our scope has broadened to conceive of our own writings as visceral scribbles to the visual realities we face daily. (Contact the visual arts editor for submissions!)