If Throwback Thursday was a room… It would look something like Beulah Land, the just-opened installation imagined by legendary 1980s New York club scene photographer Paige Powell inside London’s Dover Street Market. Its biblical name is synonymous with a wonderful place somewhere close to heaven – and that’s what the nightlife of the time is today remembered as. This is a space where joy, freedom and indulgence lead the way. And what better time to bring back those notions than right now? In partnership with Gucci, Powell and her team covered (literally) every inch of what was previously the jewellery room on the ground floor with around 3000 photographs of NYC art scene nightlife from 1984 when the installation was originally set up. Turn right after entering and you’ll see Keith Haring and David Hockney living their best lives; squat down and it’s Marc Jacobs dancing away. Look up and there he is – Andy Warhol in a Comme des Garçons lab coat. This room is a time capsule of a feeling a lot of us still yearn for, even if we never had a chance to live through it the first time round.
‘Andy Warhol modeling his new Comme des Garçons jacket at the Con Edison building, New York’ by Paige Powell (1985)
And while you can’t stay in Dover Street Market past its opening times, you can indeed take a piece of heaven with you. Postcards and polaroids of Paige Powell’s most iconic imagery are free to pick up in the room, like a souvenir of a party you’ve never been to. And if you’re in need of a complete vision of the space in your everyday life, there’s Powell’s quadriptych of books released in collaboration with Gucci. Originally published in April, the four limited-edition Dashwood coffee-table wonders tell a story of this nostalgic society and everything that was happening in New York during the 1980s – from Harlem to the East Village and SoHo.
‘Paige Powell at The Volney 23 East 74th Street getting ready for Alba Clemente’s birthday bash New York’ (1991)
“I knew that my wonderful friend Paige was legendary, but I now know she is more. These books are more than just observations, memorabilia, or photographs from a woman who never really sought fame for herself. They document a scene filled with countless brilliant talents who pretty much invented pop culture,” said Kim Hastreiter, the editor of Powell’s eponymous retrospective set. Each of the books focus on a different aspect of the photographer’s work – Animalssee Hockney’s dogs humping, while Artists Eating does what it says on the tin.
It doesn’t really matter if you’re a nostalgic soul or a futuristic freak, Paige Powell’s rich photography opus provides you with memories of a good night out. Memories even the people in the photographs probably don’t even have because, well… Those were the fun times. Just skip on the rounds of vodka-sodas this weekend and come live through some unadulterated disco dreams – a rotating mirror ball comes included.
by Dino Bonacic
Paige Powell’s installation in collaboration with Gucci ‘Beulah Land’ will be opened at Dover Street Market until November 21st.