Infographics dot the interior of Not Another Second, an exhibition dedicated to the tales of 12 LGBTQ+ seniors, centered around riveting portraits shot by German photographer Karsten Thormaehlen. Among the images and information at the ticketed and socially distanced installation, visitors will find the statistic that roughly three million seniors identify as LGBTQ+. This number is expected to double by 2030. And yet, we rarely hear such stories from the mouths of seniors themselves. Through the use of augmented reality, powered by Kaleida Studio, Thormaehlen’s images come to life and the subjects speak of their years of tragedy, triumph and pride. Open now within The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights (a senior community), the exhibition informs, entertains and uplifts.
“LGBT+ seniors have opened many doors for the younger LGBTQ generation like myself,” Andrea Erali, Art Director at RXM Creative, tells us. RXM Creative brought the exhibition to life with the help of elderly LGBTQ+ advocacy non-profit SAGE USA and nAscent Art. As the title implies, the exhibition embraces the time many of these queer individuals weren’t able to openly love someone because it was either illegal or dangerous.
“We wanted to give LGBT+ seniors the visibility they deserve and acknowledge the years they lost not being able to live as their authentic selves,” Erali says. “When we were looking for a photographer, we found the work of Karsten Thormaehlen, who created the award-winning series Happy at Hundred featuring centenarians from all over the world. We loved his personal, humorous approach, so we reached out.”
Thormaehlen’s portraits—some framed, some installed directly onto the wall—celebrate their subjects. They are direct, honest and inviting. They build a familiarity with the viewer. If guests to the exhibit download the free Kaleida Studio app, open it up and point it at Thormaehlen’s photos, each comes to life and allows the subject to speak for themselves. Though select printed quotes do accompany images, there’s nothing like hearing these individuals’ voices.
None of the seniors featured shy away from the depths of their tribulations. But heartbreaking stories of isolation, secrecy and fear do yield to empowering experiences of freedom, romance and longterm love. Ultimately, resilience is the defining note—and it’s one of respect.
The exhibition will likely run through March in The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights before touring other Watermark communities. Timed tickets for Not Another Second can be booked for free online. Attendance is very limited, guests are required to check in and out, and their temperature is taken at both steps. This installation also coincides with a national awareness campaign, also entitled Not Another Second.
Images courtesy of RXM Creative