Introducing the VICE Photo Issue 2014
A disclaimer: Nothing in this year’s VICE photo issue is as it appears to be. Each page of the magazine is actually a piece of paper that been decorated with ink by our printer in Sussex, Wisconsin, in collaboration with our team here at VICE, so that it looks like something it is not. To further illustrate my point: The image below is not a blue sky dotted with perfect clouds, seen through the gauzy curtains of a dream window; it’s actually pixels on your computer screen changing color, or some shit.
Photo by Roxana Azar
But you knew that already. I’m just trying to say that photographs are never reality—they’re always the subjective opinion of someone who is releasing the shutter of a camera at a certain moment. It’s more or less a 1/8th-second crop of the photographer’s reality, or whatever reality he or she wants you to think existed. Photographs are unreliable. Clearly, pictures lie to millions of people every day in more ways than we could list here. Even so, some images have the power to rally entire generations to a cause, move any one of us to tears in their presence, allow the dead to live forever, and more.
It’s from this slippery and uncertain vantage that VICE’s 2014 photo issue takes its perspective. Curated along an expanding of the term trompe l’oeil, this year’s edition is a showcase of smoke and mirrors, featuring photographic illusions and transformations of all kinds. The issue includes a wide range of visual tricks, deceptions, and transformations by some of the greatest artists working today. Contributions from venerated photographers whose images have changed the world—such as Weegee, Cindy Sherman, and Laurie Simmons—share pages with the visionaries of tomorrow. Here are just a few of the issue’s highlights:
The magazine has a double cover by Michael Bühler-Rose—there’s an eyeball with a hole punched through it you can rip off, and the reverse has instructions for a ceremony to remove the evil eye.
Hiroshi Sugimoto: Ohio Theater, Ohio, 1980, gelatin silver print, 47 x 58-3/4” (119.4 x 149.2 cm), edition of five. Photograph courtesy the artist and Pace Gallery
This Hiroshi Sugimoto photograph accompanies the issue’s foreword, an essay by Bob Nickastitled “Trompe l’Oeil.”
(L) Laurie Simmons: How We See/Look 1/Daria, 2014, pigment print, 70 x 48 inches, 178 x 122 cm. (R) Jimmy DeSana: Red Boy in the Woods, circa 1978, C-print, 50 x 34 inches, 127 x 86.5 cm. Photos courtesy of Laurie Simmons and Salon 94, New York
There’s a spread by Laurie Simmons and her dear friend and mentor, punk art photographerJimmy DeSana.
Jaimie Warren created a nativity scene out of characters from horror movies from the issue. Read Joseph Keckler’s text about Jaimie’s work, and watch a video of one of her recent performances.
Cindy Sherman: Cover Girl (Vogue), 1975/2011, three gelatin silver prints, 10.5 x 8 inches, 26.7 x 20.3 cm (each image size), 19.125 x 16.625 inches, 48.6 x 42.2 cm (each frame size), edition of three. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York
There’s a three-page foldout by Cindy Sherman—an early work made when she was in art school.
One of my favorite new photographers, Michael Marcelle, made a new portfolio of work for the issue, titled Third Skin.
Kevin Zucker contributed sunsets photographed on color Polaroid film, though he removed most of the color by shooting them through gray plastic.
My friend and collaborator Cynthia Talmadge and I contributed a couple of our new painted positive/negative still lifes.
There’s even a piece of photojournalism by Contact Press Images, which goes behind the scenes of a Syrian Ramadan soap opera.
While photographs are never reality, I will admit they depict some kind of absolute. The camera is, after all, a mechanical device: The lens records whatever appears before it with a cold yet democratically unflinching eye. And that fickle kind of truth is an extremely powerful force, if you can harness it. So I urge readers to greet the 2014 photo issue with skepticism. Look closely and never take its pages at face value. But find comfort in the uncertainty of not knowing what happened before of after the shutter fell—in that hazy, brief window, the very essence of human existence can be crystalized, forever.
An exhibition of work from the VICE photo issue 2014 will open at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn on July 31st and remain on view through August 10th.
See more of the photo issue’s content here.
Download the iPad edition here.
Sarah Shoenfeld Makes Art by Dropping Drugs onto Film Negatives
That big photo in the middle is a sample of speed. It was mixed with water and then dropped from a pipette onto an exposed film negative. It was then allowed to react with the light sensitive silver halide particles to create a visual impression of its own chemical make-up. These almost photos were made by the Berlin artist Sarah Schoenfeld, who says she’s been interested in depicting the undepictable since she was a child. “First I wanted to be a musician,” she told me over the phone. “But then I became more interested in how things look. Now I’m always looking for ways to make the internal, visual.”
These are lofty words, but then how do you render a narcotic event visually, without resorting to tacky drawings? Looking at it this way, her drug series All You Can Feel, nails the line between artistic depiction and scientific analysis, while somehow capturing something of the drug’s psychological effect. So I called Sarah up to say well done, and ask how she got the feelings so right.
VICE: Hi Sarah, that image of speed somehow looks the way speed feels. How did you do that?
Sarah Shoenfeld: Well, I didn’t think that when I first produced the work, but after I published the book (also called All You Can Feel) a lot of people said yes, this is how it feels. And what was really interesting is that I got a call from a drug rehabilitation center and they said that they had run their own little experiment. Without explaining the images, they had shown the book to their patients and asked them to pick a favorite. Every single one of them chose their drug of dependence, with 100 percent accuracy. Even the secretary who only ever drank coffee chose caffeine.
Wow. So how do you explain that?
Well if I had to say, maybe it’s that our understanding of reality is already shaped by our technology. We have these feelings, but don’t realize that they’re created by the things around us. So we think our feelings are our own, but here we recognize where those feelings came from. But I don’t know. I also like the idea that it’s not explainable.
Do you get asked to explain that a lot? Your answer felt suspiciously accurate.
No, most media people just ask where I got the drugs. And it’s like come on. I live in Berlin, I just buy them. Do we need to talk about it? Because you know, LSD was legal until everyone started talking about it.
Garry Winogrand’s American Epic
Winogrand was a photographer of people, from rodeo performers in Texas to socialites in Manhattan to the regulars at Venice Beach. Humanity—or perhaps American humanity—in all its iterations and range of expression, was his subject matter.
Surveying Garry Winogrand’s American Epic
Garry Winogrand (American, 1928–1984). Coney Island, New York, ca. 1952. Gelatin silver print. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase and gift of Barbara Schwartz in memory of Eugene M. Schwartz. © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
In order to enter the Garry Winogrand retrospective that opened last month at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you exit the main auditorium into the south wing, where you are greeted by a long corridor of Greek art from the sixth through fourth centuries BC. It mostly consists of statues in various poses—some at war, some lost in thought, some proclaiming, some brooding. By the time you reach the Winogrand show on the second floor and begin to survey the work, it may occur to you that the Greek gallery provided something of an anachronistic prologue. Known for his routine of tirelessly walking the streets candidly photographing city life, Winogrand was a photographer of people, from rodeo performers in Texas to socialites in Manhattan to the regulars at Venice Beach. Humanity—or perhaps American humanity—in all its iterations and range of expression, was his subject matter.
Garry Winogrand (American, 1928–1984). New York, 1950. Gelatin silver print. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Fractional and promised gift of Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein. © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
The Met is the third stop of the exhibition’s tour, originating at San Francisco MoMA. The project began when gallerist Jeffrey Fraenkel asked photographer Leo Rubinfien to help compile a large retrospective book of Winogrand’s work. Rubinfien agreed, but in his own words, “it was immediately clear you needed a museum.” So Rubinfien approached San Francisco MoMA Curator of Photography Sandy Phillips, who jumped at the idea of doing an exhibition, in which Rubinfien, who is not a curator by trade, would act as such. This iteration at the Met was reduced from the original SF MoMA show by Jeff Rosenheim, curator in charge of the Department of Photographs at the Met. It is the first Winogrand retrospective in 25 years, a virtual eternity for an artist of Winogrand’s renown, let alone an artist no longer living.
Watch Michael Shannon Fuck a Corpse in James Franco’s Short Film ‘Herbert White’
Because my film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s book, Child of God, will be released this August, I thought I would share one of my previous attempts at transforming literature into film. When I was at NYU, I made a short based on Frank Bidart’s poem ”Herbert White,” which you can watch here.
A Dozen Roses: Robert Melee on Photographing His Mother
As the exhibition title suggests, a dozen Roses
, on view at Higher Pictures through August 1st, features twelve images of Melee’s mother, Rose. In these photographs, chosen from an extensive series the artist completed between 1993 and 2004, we encounter the subject engaged in an array of peculiar scenes. In one arresting photograph, she stands naked in a snowy forest wearing thick eyeliner, with her lips blackened and face powdered white. In another, she is dolled up like a drag queen, whooping it up in the passenger seat of a convertible, on a joyride through the cemetery. We also witness her posing on all fours, stationed atop a kitchen table in a slutty negligee with some pots, pans, and a teakettle piled on her back.
I spoke with Robert about the genesis of this work, what it’s like to return to it, and how he got his mother to cooperate in the first place.
Dustin Yellin: From Hijacking Golf Carts to Building Brooklyn’s Art Utopia
"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function." —F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Crack-Up)
One evening in 1999, he used a camcorder to document himself committing three acts of trespassing: First he wandered onto the Forbes family yacht claiming he owned it (“I think this is my boat”), then he hijacked the golf-ball-collecting cart at the Chelsea Piers driving range (“We’re going to have fun tonight.”), and then things came to an end when he got arrested for breaking into Belvedere Castle in Central Park (“I climbed up the wall because I’m going to talk to someone in the tower that I’m in love with.”).
Yellin pretty casually refers to the whole thing as a “psychotic breakdown,” but his behavior during the episode isn’t really all that bad, and maybe not even all that psychotic. Sure, he says some stuff that sounds fueled by a potent brew, equal parts confusion and clarity, that has you wonder if this whole adventure began with a tab of acid or two. But, pretty soon into the video, the mystery of what Yellin might be “on,” a mystery we sort of perfunctorily find ourselves trying to solve, feels unimportant.
Instead, what becomes engrossing are the characters who are forced to deal with Yellin. And what becomes fascinating are the reconciliation processes that take place when a guy who has cracked up encounters security guards, managers, and other minions of capital-OOrder—you know, nice folks really just trying to do their jobs. If this video clip is, in fact, a piece of art, then its artistry lies in that it reveals the incredible anatomical complexity of situations where two opposed ideas—Yellin’s seemingly ruleless reality vs. the reality where you can’t just fucking steal a golf cart—are forced to reconcile.
See, it’s reconciliation and the tiny miracle inherent in the very meaning of that word that Fitzgerald is talking about in the The Crack-Up
, the 1936 essay that Yellin asks the guy on the driving range if he’s ever read, mid-hijacking. It’s reconciliation and the liminal space between two totally contradictory notions that characterizes Dustin Yellin, both his art andPioneer Works Center for Art and Innovation
, the wildly ambitious project that has become his Magnum Opus and pretty much consumed his entire life.
Photographer Peter Funch’s Last Flight is a investigative portrait of life in Atchison, Kansas, at the moment of an explosion. Working with a local photojournalism school, Funch planted 15 cameras at different locations in the small town to record what was going on at the exact moment of the implosion of Amelia Earhart Bridge, a recently condemned structure named for the town’s long disappeared favorite daughter.
Megg, Mogg, & Owl Part 10: Megg’s Therapy II – By Simon Hanselmann
Click here for last week’s episode.
(Source: Vice Magazine)