Every year I look forward to getting the Vice photo issue. If I could describe the issue in one word, it would be fresh: full of imagery I’ve never seen from (many) photographers I’ve never heard of. We don’t miss much here at Feature Shoot, and Vice always keeps it interesting. This year, with new photo editor Matthew Leifheit at the helm, is no exception.
I asked Leifheit a few questions about nudity, Terry Richardson, fruit topiaries and the opening party this Thursday night in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
This is your first year as the photo editor at Vice. How did you approach the curation for the photo issue?
“I went through a lot of different ideas when I first started thinking about the issue early this spring. I would take long lunches at Kasia’s, the Polish diner on Bedford Ave down the street from our offices, and fill a legal pad with (mostly bad) ideas while I slowly ate pierogies. I would come up with a theme, and think about whose work might fit, then list some names. To be honest I’ve been collecting Vice photo issues for years, so I’ve been thinking about what I might do differently if it were up to me in some capacity for quite a while.”
CHANNELING FRANCIS BACON, ARTIST PAINTS OVER THE GRAPHIC IMAGES OF TERRY RICHARDSON’S ‘TERRYWORLD’
For Photodissolutions, self-taught artist Kuinexs marries the photographic with the painterly, chemically altering images found in Terry Richardson’s monograph Terryworld, published by TASCHEN. After applying paint solvents to break down the surface of photographs, he uses the dissolved pigment as paint, distorting the human body in seductive ways. Inspired by the legendary Francis Bacon, he transforms the figures of Richardson’s photographs into fleshy deconstructions. Mysteriously blurred and decomposed, the nudes appear all the more elicit and alluring.
Approaching these taboo, observably pornographic images with his signature method, Kuinexs is able to imbue the sexual with an enigmatic sense of anxiety and fear. As the body dissolves into thick brushstrokes of red and black, the individual self is annihilated in service of a strange and sadomasochistic fusion with the other – both the lover and the observer. Disrupting the photographic elements of which it is composed, the figure bleeds wildly out of the frame and into its’ clean white boarders. Here, the object of our desires is a mutilated form both grotesque and alluring, a monster that mirrors our own unnamable guilt and yearning.
Dynamic Nude Self Portraits Depict One Woman’s Changing Body Over Seven Years
Over the duration of seven years, London based photographer Polly Penrose created a series of dynamic self portraits that examine a woman’s changing body and it’s emotional reaction to a physical space. The series, titled Body of Work, began in a purely organic way, stemming from her desire to capture eccentric nude portraits, while aware she could more accurately dictate concepts and ideas using herself as a subject rather than a model.
UK-based photographer Rachel Graves links the “domination and exploitation” of women to that of animals in her series of self-portraits entitled Menagerie. Grave’s diptychs are meant to illustrate the similar objectification of women and animals that she says ranges from “the mass media fantasy images of impossibly proportioned women and happy cartoon cows and chickens, to the animal names and insults directed toward women.” She points out that while women are called foxes, bitches, birds, lambs—domestic and game animals—men are most often compared to animals of strength and power—wolves, bears, stallions.
In her ongoing project The Typology, Zlatanovski presents inspired collections of objects in artfully placed, eye-pleasing arrangements we can’t help but love. There is much to be learned by an object, both by itself and collectively, Zlatanovski says. “Objects are wrapped in stories and meaning, as a curator you learn how to unravel those, to make objects speak. A tale of similarities and contrasts, sometimes vast sometimes subtle. Only through studying collections do patterns, both visual and intellectual, resonate and reveal themselves. What first appears identical reveals itself to be anything but. And the closer you look, the more you see.”
Alison Zavos of Feature Shoot was nice enough to interview me about What You Want, the show I curated as part of CCNY’s Guest Curators program.
AZ: Tell us a bit about this exhibition.
ML: “This is a show about desire. Desire not only on behalf of the audience for the photographs, but desire on behalf of the artist for his subject. It is desire that begets desire. The title stems from all this wanting.“