Time Travelers: Famed for Bringing the Gay Past Alive in Their Art, Partners David MacDermott and Peter MacGough Tackle 20th-Century Territory as Well as the Homoerotic Imagery of Hitler. (Art)

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While time marches relentlessly forward for most of us, artists David MacDermott and Peter MacGough have been moving the other way. "Why compete with the modern world when there's so much information about the past?" says MacGough. After meeting in 1980 and discovering their mutual fascination with days gone by, the pair--partners in work and life--ignored the looming 21st century and stepped back to the turn of the 20th. Their studios, houses, and work use no modern amenities: no plastics, no contemporary clothing, and often no electricity. At one point they "time-traveled" among three homes: one 1920s-style; another recalling 1880; and a third harking back to the 18th century. Their art has mined the past as well, focusing on love between men before our "openly gay" age.

But with "The Lust That Comes From Nothing," their new show on display at Manhattan's P.H.A.G Inc. gallery until December 15, MacDermott and MacGough have taken one step forward, into a historical period that's bound to cause a stir. Their first nongroup show in New York since 1990, "Lust" (like the controversial book The Hidden Hitler) revisits the malignant homoeroticism of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.

"Hitler's whole aesthetic was gay," says MacGough. "The parades, the parties, the uniforms, the marching, the youths--it was beautiful. …