July 31, 2014
On the cover of Gitta Seiler’s About Girls (Kehrer Verlag) is a beautiful teenager carefully applying mascara to her lashes as she gazes in a compact. Her skin glows with the porcelain finish that youth possesses in droves, and she reclines comfortably as she makes herself beautiful. This image, one of pure repose, is soon revealed in a chapter headed by a single word: Aborted.
It is in this chapter that Seiler visits an abortion clinic for underage women, taking casually composed photographs that belie the pathos of the moment. There is something horrific about these images in that they are understated glimpses into a moment the turning point in many a girl’s life. We may debate the idea that pregnancy is ever unplanned, we may consider that every boy and girl knows the consequences for their actions and are tempting Fate for reasons we cannot understand, but we can consider this: once conception occurs, all preconceived notions are meaningless in the face of this decision. Life or death is controlled for the first time by women, very young women.
Seiler writes, “…I wait with mothers at bed who comfort, and concerned father. I wait for girlfriends who accompany their girlfriends. I wait for a very small ray of happiness. And there: The only boy on the bench serves the hopes of all. There are still people like this, if you’re lucky, people who stay, people who come with you, people who are there. I am stuck in the girl’s soul and I weep. I wipe away my tears and look in them mirror. Like the laughing girl in the mirror who says: it’s over, it’s better than yesterday, things will go on, things will happen. It is a passing misfortune.”
But is it?
Seiler’s photographs are distinctly unsentimental, quiet yet emotionally charged challenges to our assumptions about and understanding of girls. This challenge is issued to both men and women, for in looking at her photographs I find myself reconsidering everything.
Jailed is the single word of another chapter. Seiler takes what has become a fetish and shows us the dirty underbelly; reform school girls are not sexy. Skin is littered with self-inflicted cuts, with self-made tattoos, ad aged by stress. Does it matter what they did to get here, or should we consider who failed them first and led them to act out crimes as a way to release their pain?
There is something taboo about females committing crimes, if only because most shut down and quietly punish themselves. But here we see the girls whose aggression is so extreme, they decided to punish society instead. Like the girls in the abortion clinic, we can never know what lurks deep within their heart, what remorse they may feel (if any) for betraying themselves in this way.
Prison is a lonely place, a place where one is not just locked away from the world, but locked within themselves, forced to deal with or avoid the real issue. That recidivism is high is understandable; nothing about this space creates a feeling of trust, respect, or human potential.
Unwanted is a terror, a living nightmare. It is the story of some girls who did not have the abortion. It begs the question that we can never know; is it better to take a life or to bring it into this world under these conditions? I would hazard to say, there is no answer to this question, for no matter how you try to slice it, abortion is a horrific act. But so to is bringing a child into this world that you deeply resent.
And yet it is all too common for people to just this, not stopping to consider that not one person on this earth ever asked to be born. How it has come to pass that sex has become a thing that we so easily disrespect, so much so that lives can be destroyed by one of Nature’s greatest gifts is evidenced in Seiler’s photographs. There is no love; there is resentment and disgust, there is despair and despondency, there is a much bigger problem waiting to grow up and act out these emotions, emotions passed from by a dark spirit across generations.
Lastly, there is Ran Away, the first chapter of the book. Maybe these girls were unwanted, unloved once. Like all of Seiler’s photographs, it is impossible to know what has brought these girls to this point, what it takes to break them down into nothing but crumbs. About Girls is one of the most powerful and provocative portrait of girls that I have ever seen, taking on some of the darkest aspects of humanity without offering reprieve. But more than that it offers no answers at all but it offers a question mark, a call to rethink what we know.
First Published 28 October 2011
Le Journal de la Photographie
Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo are Brooklyn Street Art (BSA), one of the most successful and influential websites dedicated to the underground ART scene that has taken the world by storm. Since 2008, BSA has been documenting the creative energies that take root and flourish in the street, like an insistent flower spouting through slabs of concrete.
Street Art is public art, usually unsanctioned work, which is executed outside of traditional art venues. Because much of it is posted illegally, it exists as a conversation between artist and audience independent of traditional realms for making, selling, and displaying art. With Street Art, there is no product. There is simply the idea made visual and expressed in physical form for all the world to observe.
Today, artists who choose the streets as their gallery are sharing their work in every corner of the globe, which makes BSA one of the most important hubs in the publishing world. BSA documents the trends in Street Art, covering the new hybrids, new techniques, and new mediums as they continue to expand our understanding of public art, speaking at length with The Click about the way in which photography and publishing preserve what is amongst the most ephemeral of all the arts.
Mr. Harrington and Mr. Rojo recall, “BSA started as an abbreviation for our first book Brooklyn Street Art (Prestel/Random House) and a way for people to quickly refer to us. The site initially was a simply page to give people an online location to learn more about the book with additional information about the scene on the street. We didn’t have any idea that it would grow into a clearinghouse for a global scene—in fact our first month we got 53 visits.”
Read the Full Story at THE CLICK.
July 18, 2014
For the past three decades, Ziggi Golding has set the bar for a standard of originality and creativity in the fine art and commercial photography worlds. She is devoted to cultivating talent and style within her roster of artists. As she notes, “I’m an enabler. I like to help people develop and realize their dreams.”
Since first becoming an agent in 1983, Ms. Golding has developed the careers of many of the top talents in the art, photographic, fashion, film, and music industries today. She sits down with The Click to discuss a life in photography.
Ms. Golding remembers, “Growing up in Jamaica, my mom always had a Roliflex. It was the one you looked down in. It was unusual then. It’s interesting that photography wasn’t my love. It was painting and drawing, art in its trues form. But I got interested in photography when I fell int modelling at the end of the 70s.
“As a job, I didn’t find modeling that interesting. I was more into the process of photography itself. After about six years in the industry, I started my own agency, the Z Agency. I wanted to protect models, as they were young and put in compromising positions. I also thought modeling was what you do when you didn’t know what to do with your life.
“I chose interesting people with a good look, amazingly talented people, and I started representing photographers early on like Andrew McPherson, and Geoff Stern, who had made the film, ‘Underground.’ It was part of my role to make things happen on a bigger level. For the ‘Underground’ I helped make a deal with Palace Pictures and Collin Callender, who went on to be the President of HBO Films. I made an early point of generating original work, in addition to booking people.
“With i-D and The Face, all through the 80s, two thirds of the content was connected with Z Agency, whether it was the photographers, models, stylists, make-up or hair. However I was not fulfilled by the modeling side of the industry. I was more interested in being the master of the project.”
Read the full story at THE CLICK.
July 15, 2014
Freddie Leiba is the embodiment of elegance. He is at once both very cool, and warm. His lyrical voice soothes and charms. Once seated in his resplendent abode in midtown Manhattan, Mr. Leiba begins to reflect on the early days, and how they laid the path to a life in fashion, photography, and style that is undeniably glamorous. His vision has been seen on some of the most beautiful women of our time, from Iman to Beyonce, Meryl Streep to Sandra Bullock. He recounts his humble beginnings, and the path he took, back and forth across the Atlantic, though our story begins in the Caribbean.
Mr. Leiba recounts, “I was born in Trinidad and left at the end of the 1950s to go to England. When I grew up, there was no TV. Instead you joined the library and hopefully, you for a good book. I remember as a young boy, my mother took me for a walk one Sunday, as we often did, and we saw Rita Hayworth filming ‘Fire Down Below.’ I had never seen anyone like that in life. I was fascinated by this woman who looked like a goddess on a Caribbean island.
“I would go to the library and research books, then to the movies where it would cost twenty-five cents to see a double feature. I felt at home in this world, but it still felt untouchable. I didn’t think there was any way I would ever be a part of a world like this.
“When I went to London, I really found my place. I just fell into the right group of people. I was attending the Royal College of Art, the most prestigious, most respected art school in the world. I drew incessantly. I drew women in dresses. I was obsessed.
“My mother was broad-minded and had no problems with me doing dress design. She sewed for a living, and taught herself how to sew, and how to play the piano. She worked and worked and worked—and never complained about anything. Everything starts at home, no matter how rich or poor you are. She was a single mother. She did everything to make everything possible for me. I will never forget that. I wouldn’t ever disappoint her even though she’d dead now. She worked so hard to get me to the place I am. I still feel I have to shine. I just have to do it.”
Read the full story at THE CHIC.
July 11, 2014
The world is a ghetto. We of the first world forget this but it is everywhere, more common than not, people living below the poverty line in conditions too raw for us to fully comprehend. When we do consider it, we vilify or romanticize; we imagine it not as it is, for rarely do we venture into the world of the underclass. Yet artists venture forth, exploring lands unexamined and unexplored, discovering stories waiting to be told. Douglas Mayhew does just this in his first monograph, Inside the Favelas: Rio de Janeiro (Glitterati Incorporated).
Mr. Mayhew observes, “The World Cup is a diversion driven by politics to keep people in line. Just like soap operas and Carnaval, they are a form of control—powerful tools the government has always used to take people’s minds off their problems and those of the country. And so, the climate of public dissidence that occurred prior to the start of the games is remarkable. Given the country’s colonial origins, public demonstrations as a form of social protest are shocking and the government hasn’t a clue of how to deal with angry citizens who are rising up, crossing class barriers, and fomenting against one of the basic tenants of Brazilian culture – corruption. The government’s reaction has been to increase police presence on the streets, ease regulatory restraints on the use of force, use increasingly confrontational forms of crowd control, and to restrict, in an informal way, access by journalists and photo journalists to protest events. Once the games are over, the elation of winning the right to host the games will quickly fade in light of their cost.”
Douglas Mayhew speaks with THE CLICK, taking us inside the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Read the full story at THE CLICK.
July 8, 2014
Photographer and subject have a distinct relationship that is based on the sharing of ideas in mutual exploration of that which does not yet exist until the two come together to bring forth the work, the image that holds the wall or rests, nestled inside the book. The photograph is the space where two become one and what we see is the way in which they create something the world has never seen before.
“Every hat I have ever made has begun in my mind as a photograph. I can see it on the model, at the right angle, before I even begin. I can see what the girl’s going to look like and how it’s going to be worn. But it’s something that’s just for me,” writes celebrated milliner Philip Treacy at the introduction to Philip Treacy by Kevin Davies (Phaidon), an intimate and breathtaking retrospective of Mr. Treacy and Mt. Davies’ two decade-long partnership.
Mr. Treacy continues, “Photography, like design, is an obsession: an obsession with the final image. And most photographers, like most designers, are control freaks, because they care so much that it all looks incredible in the end. We believe in it. Whether you’re a make-up artist, stylist, designer, architect, photographer or anyone working in the creative industries, your work is a point of view. It’s your point of view.”
Mr. Treacy’s hats recall nothing so much as a time long gone, a time when men and women dressed head-to-toe before stepping out of the house. Hats are the last hurrah of a bygone era, a time when attention to detail was as important as expression of self. Mr. Treacy’s hats remind us that glamour is a state of mind, for to carry off one of his superb chapeaus one must have presence, power, and fearlessness.
Kevin Davies’ photographs of the hats themselves are a spectacle of the simplest effect. Set upon a faceless mannequin head, set against a white backdrop, there is nothing to see except the hats themselves. Photography is a comfortable reminder that this is likely as close as we shall ever get, but this closeness will set your heart aflame. That the hats can be worn seems almost too grand. To simply gaze upon their eloquent and effortless form would be enough.
Mr. Davies speaks with THE CHIC about his partnership with Philip Treacy as it developed throughout the years. Read the full story at THE CHIC.
July 3, 2014
W.M. Hunt is renovating his Upper Westside apartment. We stroll through the rooms, perusing the collection of art that exists in two dimensions and in three. Everything appears to be as he describes a photography collection to be: “I like pictures that are incredibly orderly and incredibly chaotic.” This effect is echoed in the renovations going on outside a humble room filled with gens. Flat photographs laid out, stacked, rolled, stored, safe and secure. The photographs represent Mr. Hunt’s two collections: Blind Pirate and Dancing Bear.
From these collections, primarily the former, an exhibition will reveal itself, an exhibition like no other that opens Monday, July 7 at the Rencontres D’Arles in the South of France. Mr. Hunt returns to his old stomping grounds with “Foule: Hunt’s Three Ring Circus” which will run through September 21, 2014. “Foule” features more than 250 works dated from the late 19 century through 1950, in large banquet or panorama style, several of which are more than two meters in length.
Mr. Hunt reveals, “I collected pictures in which you cannot see the person’s eyes. That first collection began forty years ago at an auction. It was a portrait of a veiled woman. It went for $325. I went and bought another one in a gallery. When it was pure instinct, I never made a mistake. Knowledge became the great stumbling block.”
“It took awhile in my own collecting to have the confidence in my own ‘eye’ to be image driven as opposed to being caught up in the reputation of the artist. A long time ago, I taught some classes about collecting. People seemed to burden themselves with knowledge. You ought to have some connoisseurship to collect but the best thing to bring to it is nerve. A little knowledge goes far. Educated decisions are not as instructive. The hardest thing is to get back to reacting to what’s immediate, to walk in and be present and have it hit you. Everyone is going to insist everything is great—but it ain’t. If you see a couple of really good photographs a year, celebrate that. Dance around with it. Whatever the neurosis is about collecting, I worked my way through it. The picture that makes you fart lightning… Who knew your nipples could see?”
Indeed. Not we, that is, until Mr. Hunt sat down with us to speak about photography. Read the full interview at THE CLICK.
Valentina Ilardi Martin is the Editor in Chief of GREY Magazine, a sumptuous compendium of fashion photography, fiction and poetry that has been published in a hardcover periodical every spring and every fall since 2009 featuring photographs by Nobuyoshi Araki, William Eggleston, Nan Goldin, Sarah Moon, Martin Parr, Robert Polidori, and Ellen von Unwerth among many more.
The photograph comes first for Ms. Ilardi Martin, whose native Roman passion for the grandeur of everyday beauty belies each story produced in the book. She is nothing if not a womanist by nature, honoring the power and influence of the female mind, body, and heart.
GREY maintains a structural integrity to the construction of the photographs, collaborating in the creation of a shared reality that integrates the clothing into the photograph as though it were not so much a matter of fashion as it were the architecture of the life of the body. How we sheath and clothe, hide and seek, play dress up, how we dress to express, to impress, to pretend, to reveal who we see ourselves as.
Ms. Ilardi Martin recalls, “When I was young, I was illustrating, then I decided to become a painter. My parents were both more structured people; they woke up every morning at 7 a.m. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to be an artist because I thought they could do whatever they want, whenever they want.
“Then I moved forward. (Laughs). I followed my parents’ advice and went to business school. Then I had a really big accident with a motorbike. I was in a coma for two days. When I came out of it, I said to my father, ‘I’m leaving business school and I am going to art school instead.’ They said yes.”
“I have always had a visual life. I feed myself with my eyes. When I am in places where I cannot feed my eyes, I feel really sick. I would not be able to work in an office which does not have a view,” Ms. Ilardi Martin mentions as the breeze wafts through the window of her ninth-floor home.
Read the Full Story at THE CHIC.
June 30, 2014
Poetry isn’t as much an art as it is an act. It is a way of being, a way of seeing, a way of feeling life. It is respiration. Breath drawn in, words expelled. Words that float through the mind and burst upon the lips, fingertips, the pen to paper or the stroke to key, and with each and every moment, the rhythm hits me, then you, then we. Poetry, it is it’s own means, but there is no end, but rather a flow along which we go, should we wish to share the experience.
Daria Ann-Martineau publishes her poem, “Mine” at Narrative today. A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Miss Martineau recently received her MFA in Poetry from New York University. We met at a reading, where she looked resplendent in a wispy peach shift, something like a Bellini, crisp and sparkling. She takes a moment today to chat about the place of poetry in her life…
Miss Rosen: It is evident from the moment anyone lays eyes upon you that you are meant to be a muse as well as a poet alike. Your energy is deliciously elegant while also cutting edge. Please speak about the early period, when you discovered the word and the way in which it could be used as a pillow—or a sword.
Daria-Ann Martineau: First of all, thank you for that incredible compliment. It is a lot to live up to. I do not know that there was a specific moment of discovery for me. The way poetry found me was more gradual and cumulative—almost like a poem: there are lots of tiny details (teachers, books, performances) that build to this bigger idea.
I grew up with two lawyers for parents and I think complex, nuanced language was almost revered in my house. My mother collects dictionaries. I think I inherited a craving from her for the depth and meaning of language. I wrote a lot of bad “secret diary” kind of poems growing up. Nothing serious but I started taking Creative Writing at university and by my senior year, I was ready to dedicate my life.
As for the pillow/ sword thing: I think the night I saw Patricia Smith perform “Skinhead” on television was a moment I saw what crazy things a poem could do. I was about ten when that happened. I didn’t understand the moment’s gravity until much later.
How do poems arrive ? I ask as I have heard verse. Like one time I was making the bed and a voice was like, “Stop. Now write this down.” It doesn’t always happen like that, but when I am in the flow it is as if I can hear words being said. And when I read certain people’s verse, I feel that same intuitive rhythm. Do poems come to you ? Do you go to them ? Do you meet in the park by the big oak ? Or over a cone of ice cream ?
Some poems come quite naturally. Some I chase them and hunt them down. I think my most successful poems usually start off with a perceived connection between two seemingly disparate things. This idea, this association of them sits in my brain like a seed, often for months or years, before I finally get a poem from it. The poem “Mine” started when I saw the word “canary” one day and I thought about it as a colour and a bird: how to link its purpose in either context. I had just one line for months and months and that never even made it into the poem. Then one day, I sat down and wrote it in minutes.
What is the experience for you of reading your poems aloud ? How important is it to liberate them from the page ?
I hadn’t thought about it with my poems too much. Yusef Komunyakaa says the ear is the best editor and of course I will read a line over to make sure it “sounds right.” I think, though, when I read my whole poems aloud they sound more or less as I have predicted they would. There are exceptions of course, like the time I burst into tears while sharing a piece I’d written without much thought.
I love the communal feeling of sharing my work and listening to others share theirs. It’s quite thrilling. I think I get more from hearing other people’s work. When I read a Komunyakaa poem for example, I can see and feel the music without ever opening my mouth. He’s so known for that. But when I read it out loud I hear it even more and when he reads his poems out loud, it’s almost quaking. This year I’ve also been lucky enough to perform with Pop-Up-Poets, memorizing and performing famous poems. It’s this great, expansive, bodily experience. The best way for me to understand the depth of a poem is to memorize it. Recite it like a prayer.
Read “Mine” at Narrative Magazine
June 27, 2014
When I began my career as a book publicist, Calvin Reid was the first journalist I met in person. His warmth and wit, his disarming charm, and his knowledge of the book publishing industry cannot be underestimated. As Senior News Editor of Publishers Weekly, the premier trade publication, Mr. Reid has been at the forefront of the major changes in book publishing for the past thirty years.
More than a reporter, Mr. Reid is a businessman. He understands the nature of the medium to the point that he has been a central figure in the rise and success of graphic novels as a genre of publishing. But more than that Mr. Reid is an artist himself, which came as a wonderful surprise to me as we spoke at length for The Click.
Mr. Reid observes, “I always loved books as a kid. As a job, it was a pure accident. They used to call book publishing, ‘The Accidental Profession.’ A lot of people entered the profession from very disparate fields. Often they started in business, and couldn’t bear it any longer. They made career turns and lucked into publishing. I came about it the same way.
“My background is as an artist. I have a BFA in Art Education with a minor in Photography from Howard University, and an MFA in Printmaking from the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. I came to New York to be an artist. I arrived June 7, 1981. I continued to produce etchings and lithographs as well as drawings after I moved to New York and I have exhibited widely in New York and in shows around the country. Moving to New York and meeting and marrying my wife were the two best decisions of my life. My plan was to find a way to work and to do the artist thing. I got a job as a temp; I was a “Kelly Girl” (laughs). I worked for Kelly Services in different places including Matthew Bender, which is a legal publisher. Later I switched jobs and became a typist at Library Journal, which eventually led to me becoming a journalist.”
Read the Full Story at THE CLICK.
June 23, 2014
Janette Beckman and I meet Dapper Dan in his brownstone in Harlem on a sunny day in April. We are in the sitting room; the wood is dark, the ceilings are tall, the art is African. On a bench laid before us is a child’s suit in red and white leather, boasting the name ERIKA. Beside it, red and gold cap is perched, with the double FF logo of the great Italian fashion house Fendi prominently displayed. The cap is an inverted trapezoid, in the style made famous by 80s emcee Just-Ice. The gold F shines bright, catching my eye over and over again, until Dapper Dan enters the room and commands my full attention. Dap wears a long sleeve shirt, vest, and slacks with spats all in shades of cream and brown; against a skin of rich mahogany, Dap carries the look effortlessly, befitting a man of his stature and renown.
For those in the know, Dapper Dan is a name of distinction. It stands for quality and style. It stands for a way of living that is equal parts art and business. It is the name that defined the sartorial style of uptown in the 1980s. Dapper Dan is Harlem, from his cap to his spats to the way he stands straight. Dapper Dan is the man who Africanized Europe’s luxury brands. Gucci. MCM. Louis Vuitton. These were the logos and insignias he silkscreened on skins in the studio above his shop, which was open 24/7 on 125 Street for ten years.
After printing the skins himself, Dapper Dan employed a team of Senegalese to create custom apparel for the body, as well as for the car. A haberdasher to the stars of Harlem World, everyone from the streets came calling, whether hustlers, gangsters, Hip Hop artists, athletes, or simply those with an eye for the flyest, freshest, most cutting-edge styles. Dapper Dan’s work was worn by everyone from Mike Tyson, Run-DMC, and Bobby Brown to LL Cool J, Salt N’ Pepa, and Eric B. & Rakim. Paid in Full, indeed, ‘cause Dap gave no discounts whatsoever on the merchandise.
Dapper Dan’s pieces were as original as his techniques. His most famous piece, a parka known as the Alpo Coat, was made for Alberto Martinez, one of the most famous drug dealers of the era. It featured double pockets in the front, all the better to hide or dispose of something, like a gun. Violent crime in New York was skyrocketing, with the murder rate hitting an all-time high in 1991. Crack was the nexus between money and murder in those days, and as a result, some customers had special needs. Kevlar lining was added to the lining of coats at a client’s request.
As Fat Joe recalled in The New Yorker, “I remember going to a club in Manhattan and walking in with my Dapper Dan suit, the red-and-white Gucci, with my jewelry. They were looking at me, like, ‘Who is this? He gotta be somebody.’ And I wasn’t famous—I was just a nigga with a Dapper Dan suit. And that suit made me famous.”
Mark Twain memorably said, “Clothes make the man,” and if there was one man who defined the styles of the times, that man was Dapper Dan. I asked Dap about how Twain’s words made him feel, to which he replied with great heart, “Yo! That’s my thing. You hit it right on the head now! To make people. They knew that. To create something that’s going to make you. You see it every day in Hollywood. They looking for that thing that’s going to make them. You see that Busta Rhymes come here, and Puff Daddy come here, and they say, “I want that 80s look!’ They are looking for that sensation, that crack. They are looking for that crack. I want to give them that crack and they feel like, ‘Whoa, I am here.” Like that Cadillac.”….
The full story appears in the Summer 2014 issue of Jocks & Nerds.
October 23, 2013
The photography book occupies its own realm in modern life. It is both an object of art as well as a repository of knowledge, of spirit, and feeling. It is a record of the world as it is seen through the lens. It is a telling of tales real and surreal, documents of our time and place that are captured in inks lavished in images spreads across the page. The photography book delights in a world of mass production, in the way that it is at once the world of an artisan and a machine, of a world of reproduction in the grandest scheme. All to tell a story, to record a moment in time that accumulates in images that bring us far and wide.
Prestel Publishing understands this. As leader in the industry, they have developed a photography list that is brilliantly situated among a larger program that includes art, architecture, design, fashion, and children’s books produced with an eye for the extraordinary. They understand the book as an object of contemplation and study, and the way in which the medium it showcases defines the parameters of its presentation. This is a tribute to a refined vision of publishing that meets market needs. Featuring a list that includes monographs by Roger Ballen, Pieter Hugo, and Horst Friedrichs, as well as collections of work by Robert Mapplethrope, David Seymour (Chim), and Magnum Photos, Prestel’s list is a distinctive mix of the classic and the cutting-edge, brought together by a commitment to high-production values, elegant design, and consumer demand.
Founded in 1924 with over 500 English titles, Prestel is based in Munich, where it is a division of Random House Germany. Yet the company maintains an international flair, with offices in New York and London, and international distribution for their list. The success of the photography list can be attributed to the work of Curt Holtz, Commissioning Editor for Photography and Architecture Books. Holtz’s understanding of the artist as author, and the story that is to be told as it is laid across the pages of each book allows him to explore fascinating subjects that command the interest of the photography world, and beyond. The appeal of the monographs on the Prestel list is their ability to transgress cultural boundaries and to bring us inside new worlds.
Holtz observes, “It comes from a gut-level response when looking at the images, at the book dummy, meeting someone, you know, there’s something here. This can work. You understand the work in its context. You know if it will fly in London and New York, and how much can move on a local level. Perhaps it is niche but it has a universal appeal. You look at how this can translate, and what makes it have popular appeal. Of course there is the materiality, the paper, the inks, the production values, but there are many beautiful books that do not move. The spirit needs to be there, in the pictures.”
Consider the works of Pieter Hugo, which as distinct as they are extraordinary. From The Hyena and Other Men and Nollywood to Permanent Error, Hugo’s monographs sweep us in a whirlwind of the foreign and the familiar. His images heighten our senses, sharpen our eyes, make our hearts beat fast then slow then gasp. It’s flow, page after page after page. The elegance of their construction adds to the intensity of the photographs, as the physical weight of the book holds together the world inside Pandora’s Box, and what we are left after we close the covers is the feeling of magic which is the photography book.
It is this feeling for books that allows Prestel to execute the exquisite precision necessary to publish the work of Elinor Carucci. Mother, which is set for release in October 2013 and was edited by Karen Levine, Prestel’s New York-based Executive Editor, follows the birth of the artist’s twins. She photographed them as babies, as toddlers, as children, exploring the complexity of the relationship between mother and child. Such a tender, sensitive, highly personal and nuanced series such as this requires a delicacy of touch and of vision, as well as an inner strength. As Holtz describes the process of the creation of this book, the very metaphor of motherhood comes into its own.
There is a passion and an understanding that allows great books to be born, stories that peel back the layers of our daily lives, stories that take us into spaces we would never otherwise be and allow us to join in as witness and audience to a wide array of themes. “We’re in a bit of a privileged position,” Holtz notes of photography and book publishing. “This is a fantastic, small community who care about producing books, who care very deeply about making work that matters.”
September 24, 2013
Man and Woman. Husband and Wife. Artist and Muse. It’s a path few travel because it demands. A kind of commitment to creativity unparalleled, as standard of excellence, an ability to balance the personal and the professional, the private and the public, a kind of elasticity and mutability that comes from years past, experiences shared, mysteries unfolding, new opportunities revealed, the moment made eternal. The photograph, the space where the two meet, where time stops and what once was shall now and forever be.
Fat Girl by Carlos Batts (Barnacle Books) is a love story. It is a story of love that begins with a knowledge of self, a fearless acceptance of truth, of a way of being that is deeply one’s own, so FTW if they complain. April Flores found her happiness in the body voluptuous, the body scorned by society as this, that, and the third thing because they won’t let a woman live.
April Flores does not just live. She flourishes. She is not but a flower but a field, a meadow, a deep luscious jungle, for she is not merely muse and model, she is a feminist porn icon to (knee-high) boot. This is her body—and this is her world. And it began with her first encounter with Batts, when he suggested she put on a bikini, and after a moment’s hesitation, Flores freed herself, and she stepped before the camera, and the love affair began.
Fat Girl is a tribute to the beauty of woman as she is, as she discovers herself in all her glory, as goddess, siren, and beauty. The photograph is the space where artist and muse meet, each enchanted with the other in the self, enacting Nature’s math of one plus one equals three. The photograph lives in our world, now a thing to contemplate as a reflection of both Flores and Batts and the space in between, where all are invited to meet.
The book is an invitation into their world, and a celebration of all the spirit made flesh, manifest in each photograph, for Miss Flores is an energy, radiating fire, light, flame. She changes her image but never her identity, like a diamond revealing facets of herself, as she grows, blossoming like the flora for which her name stands.
Flores writes, “It is hard for women of all sizes to feel confident because, from the time we are young girls, we are bombarded with messages and images in the media and other places that make us feel like we can never be too thin, too young, or too successful. It is even harder for plus size women to feel good about themselves because rarely are plus sized women represented in a completely positive way. The book is my answer to that problem. This book is an exhibition of my confidence and happiness as a plus size woman.”
Indeed it is, a beautifully, thoughtfully, tastefully curated collection of Batts’ deliciously vivid celebration of his wife, the yin to his yang, the fusion of seeming opposites. Through his photographs, we come to see his vision of a world where women are creatures of completeness, knowing themselves better than anyone else. No longer do we ask, “What do women want?” so much as we say, “Yes, more please.”
Flores is more than a sex symbol, she is a symbol of the sex that inspires the act of creation, be it in life and in art, in the way that the book becomes a treasure chest to be perused at leisure. Fat Girl is one woman’s path through this world, one that is exquisitely pleasurable, risqué and erotic, an adventure in art and style, a tongue planted firmly in chic. Batts’ photographs of Flores naked but for red stilettos and a Miss Piggy mask, remind us that the truest icon of womanhood begins with the Venus of Willendorf.
Fat Girl is deeply personal, yet splendidly friendly, just like Flores and Batts themselves, their lives an open book, a collaboration of kindred spirits now pressed in inks on paper and tucked between the covers. Fat Girl reminds us that she is we and we are she is beauty is deep. It is of the skin, muscle, flesh, bone, soul, and spirit. We are lucky to witness and share it.
September 22, 2013
Many people see their lives as worthy of books, of stories and histories, of memories repeating themselves over and over again with every turn of the page, memories of a time and a place that was once not too long ago but with every passing moment it slips further away. It is the ether to which we return and we hold to its shores, as the river sweeps through. We see and we smile and we think and we know that it comes and it goes.
The book then sets forth to stop time, time capsule, treasure chest of a world that will live on. In ink printed on pages in images and in words and the book speaks to us from the past in the present for the future and we hold it close. We clasp it in our hands, we cradle it to our chest, and our eyes feast upon its contents, devouring every last bit. This is life in print.
And so it is to the book that we return to celebrate the great Gigi Giannuzzi. Trolleyology: The First Ten Years of Trolley Books is a delightfully bright mango number, all board debossed with the simplest boldface, and I’m thinking of that Classic A B C D F U C K t-shirt from back in the days. I love it, this little brick of a book, a marvel of engineering that needs no refinement whatsoever. Form follows function, like Le Corbusier said, and it is here that Trolleyology sets forth.
“Trolley is ten. We would like to thank, from the bottom of our hearts, all those that have helped us reach this milestone, the artists and the people that always believed in us, from our resolute supporters to our very patient printers. Glimpsing at the world as it appears now we little anticipated then, at the outset of this journey, what we have witnessed in those ten years. Wars waged on the precepts of lies, the dramatic effects of collateral damage on millions of innocent people, Geneva Convention rules ignored by ‘First World’ countries, the resurrection and proliferation of torture as a normal means to obtain information. Above all, we have witnessed the rise of fear, the emergence of a new breed of global authoritarianism and corresponding brutal methods of repression, from Burma to the UK, from France to Zimbabwe. At the same time there has been a dramatic fall in the sales of informative books. At Trolley we still believe in the power of information and the people’s undeniable right to know what is happening in their name. We shall continue to promote and support our authors in the next ten years, as we have done since Trolley first began a decade ago.”
Gigi penned these words, before his death. And like Biggie Smalls said, this is Life After Death, for in the circle spinning around in full, a revolution has been completed. Gigi stands for revolution, for things coming around again, and the legacy of Trolley can be found in all that have stood at his side, aligning themselves with Truth, Justice, and the Integrity of the Soul.
Trolleyology reveals it as this, and so it is here that we set forth, looking to what was done, how it was built by the mind of a most swashbuckling lunatic, who possessed a passion that could not be denied. It is a passion for speaking truth to power, for creating art, for using the book as the medium to bring us together, to marry the sacred and the profane, the book is art in the age of mass reproduction and it lives and it breathes in a new milennia where it has a new kind of weight. The book exists. It cannot be erased. And it is the job of the publisher to tell stories worthy of the ages. Stories that command attention and respect, stories that force us out of our comfort zones, into the world outside the known, to a place that calls to our deepest humanity and asks us to be the change we want to see in the world.
Trolleyology offers up chapters from The Book of Life, each chapter dedicated to telling the story of a book on the Trolley list. Consider just a few and you’ll understand the depth, breadth, courage, and strength it takes to publish stories of this caliber:
Chernobyl: The Hidden Legacy by Pierpaolo Mittica
Purple Hearts: Back from Iraq by Nina Berman
Open Wound: Chechnya 1994-2003 by Stanley Greene
A Million Shillings: Escape from Somalia by Alixandra Fazzina
Say Yes to a Rosy Future: Nicolas Righetti
Double Blund: War in Lebanon 2006 by Paolo Pellgrin
Crosses: Portraits of Clergy Abuse by Carmine Gallasso
Taliban: Thomas Dworzak
The list goes on and on, each chapter a rabbit hole into another world, each book a portal into a truth on earth. Gigi’s gift was his passion, and it was this passion that he brought where ever he went, and it was this passion that changed our lives, with each and every book. It is this passion that we see in the pictures and read in the words, in the stories of how each book came to be, and the lives Gigi touched with love.
Trolleyology sits behind my desk on a narrow ledge, a shelf that is home to the books that shape my inner and outer worlds, from The Rumi Collection and The Way of Chuang Tzu to I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp by Richard Hell. And it is that image of the tramp that stays with me, the tramp whose heart is huge, whose spirit is luminous, and whose legend lives on in eternity. It is that trap that is Gigi and his trolley of books, his curiosity lit like a fire, like a flame, whose soul radiates with each and every turn of the page.
The book is the mirror into which we look, not just at ourselves, but a reflection of those who bring it into existence. The book as object, idea, invention, inspiration. The book that calls to a higher self. The book as created by Gigi Giannuzzi. Visionary. Activist. Artist. Emissary. Gentleman. Madman. Publisher. God Bless.
September 19, 2013
Joie Iacono is a diamond, polished to shine, reflecting, refracting, and bending light at she desires. A photographer, painter, designer, director, stylist, actor, DJ, and collaborator, Iacono is a many-faceted gem who best embodies the phrase, “I am every woman.” She first picked up a camera at the age of eight and turned the lens upon herself, becoming both artist and model in each frame.
“My work is diaristic; I am always pulling elements from what is going on in my life, to re-enact and perform these moments for the camera. I am an artist, a business woman, a wife, a homemaker, and a world traveler—yet I’ve been an outsider all of my life. As humans, we are such chameleons. I believe in making the world what I want it to be. My birthday is December 31; according to astrocartography, that’s the Day of the Joker. The Joker is no card and yet it is all the cards in the deck at the same time. I experience nothing and everything. In my art I am capturing the experiences I am having from a tertiary place. I am observing the changes and allowing the process to take place. My mantra for the last couple of years has been to let experiences pass through myself, rather than carry them with me. I am being a receptor, a channel, a path for these ideas.”
It is through these channels that Iacono’s imagery travels, finding its form as it makes its way through time and space. In 2003, Iacono debuted her photographs in “To Drown a Rose,” a solo exhibition in New York’s Chelsea Gallery District. Her work was met with great acclaim. She recalls, “After my success, I got shy about being so open with my life. It took me a long time to begin working intuitively again. I could hear the voices of critics in my head, or wondered what buzz words gallerists might use to pigeonhole my work, and that made me scared of success. Working on commissions for other artists such as Antony and the Johnsons helped. I could put things forward for other people, and explore where my vision and their vision would intersect. That really helped on a personal level. It got me back to myself. My work became about exploring insecurities, narcissism, vanity, beauty, self hatred and self love.”
It is now, ten years later that Iacono returns to the world stage in “J.O.I.E.”, a collaboration with Cédrix Crespel opening September 19 at AD Galerie in Montpellier. The exhibition, which features Crespel’s paintings of Iacono’s photographs, runs through October 19. Crespel’s press materials describe an admiration that borders on idolatry, a love and affection that elevates Iacono to kitten on a pedestal status. The text notes, “From this exchange emanate the grandiose portraits of J.O.I.E., with their fluorescent lipstick traces that illuminate the penetrating and piercing tints, their fluttering black satin sheaths and their cracking garters. The artist does not center sexuality in the glimpse of a thigh, an erect nipple or a moist mouth, but in these stretched forms, gloved in black, playing striptease with the arms and the hands of the model. Joie is depicted as dressed, and her finery, though light, seems like a substitutive virginity. She is passionate about her role, and she photographs herself in the poses the artist will later reproduce in paint.”
Iacono embraces all of the luxuriousness a sex kitten promises. “These works show how I see myself, and then how Cédrix sees me. They place importance on the object and this gives me the opportunity to perform, to act, to be Bardot. I didn’t have to overthink a thing. I just put on a little make up, locked myself in, and I took pictures of myself. It was a great way to blow off some steam!”
Iacono then references a Buddha quote: “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Her portraiture reflects her profound respect for her being, and the photograph becomes a marriage of inside and out, of soul and visage, of director and star, of bridges across seemingly opposite sides of life, each image Iacono creates is a collaboration between artist and muse. Two equals one in this duet that celebrates the feminine, the goddess, the siren song that calls to all in the mortal realm.
“Being human you can affect change. I’d much rather be a dolphin but they can’t effect change in the same way. That’s part of the burden. The human condition is heaven and hell. The cycles of beginning and ending, light and dark, spring and fall, death and rebirth, they are universal principles. This is a space of discovery, and of meditation. Think of crying and laughing; the place where they meet is rapturous. When we love ourselves as much as we love others, we allow ourselves to be open and let it pass through you. That’s a huge driving force in my work right now.” Which makes Iacono ripe, vibrant, and alive, her vision of self is strong and passionate enough to capture Crespel’s imagination this Fall.