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October 28, 2019 | Theatre, Race and Equity,

The Official Triptych Crash Course

Triptych (Eyes of One on Another) is a monumental performance, celebrating the creative forces of Bryce Dessner, korde arrington tuttle, Patti Smith, Essex Hemphill, and Roomful of Teeth — just to name a few of the incredible collaborators involved. Rather than a traditionally structured retrospective of Robert Mapplethorpe’s iconic photography, Triptych is able to raise up important questions of race, queerness, and artistic license while honoring Mapplethorpe’s earth-shattering approach to the art form. In a recent Boston Globe article, director Kaneza Schaalm remarks, “There are so many ways to look at these images. None of us have a neutral gaze.”

Since we announced Triptych in May earlier this year, we’ve had the immense privilege of diving into the work of all these artists, as well as the history of Mapplethorpe right here in Boston.

“Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment” was toured around the United States in 1989-1990 to eight cities. The exhibit was met with controversy as museums throughout the country refused to show the photographs, claiming they were pornographic in nature. The last stop of the tour was Boston’s own Institute of Contemporary Art. Despite the upheaval of religious protestors pressuring the Mayor, Attorney General, and ICA to cancel the show, the ICA cemented itself as an advocate for artistic freedom and expression. The museum even saw a 50% rise in membership after the exhibit opened.

A few months before the exhibition opened in June of 1989, Mapplethorpe passed away from complications from HIV/AIDS at Boston’s Deaconess Hospital, now Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital. When he died, he was hardly a known figure in Boston. After the ICA showing, Mapplethorpe became a local icon.

This is just a sliver of Mapplethorpe’s incredible legacy. By bringing Triptych to ArtsEmerson, we hope to continue the conversations surrounding the artist’s work, as well as look deeply at our own experience looking at and participating in art.

We’ve compiled all the preview pieces and select blog posts for you to reference before coming to see the show. We hope you find these resources helpful and we are excited to discuss Triptych (Eyes Of One on Another) with you at the Cutler Majestic Theatre, OCT 30-NOV 03.


A lens on Robert Mapplethorpe in Bryce Dessner’s ‘Triptych’The Boston Globe
Anti-Biopic ‘Triptych’ Shows Us Robert Mapplethorpe’s Provoking Work In A New LightWBUR/The ARTery
‘Triptych’ sets Mapplethorpe to musicBoston Herald


Who is Robert Mapplethorpe
The Artists of Triptych
Roomful of Teeth’s Choral Revolution
The Story of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplthorpe: From Just Kids to Revolutionaries
How korde arrington tuttle Questioned “Cancel Culture” and Leaned Into the Discomfort of Robert Mapplethorpe’s Photographs

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