July 07, 2014
Perhaps Harvey—the man who, in 1874, was about to become the first-ever photographer of the giant squid—saw it as his duty to restore power to it, body and myth, myth and the body.
“It proved to be…gigantic,” Harvey continued.
July 07, 2014
Perhaps Harvey—the man who, in 1874, was about to become the first-ever photographer of the giant squid—saw it as his duty to restore power to it, body and myth, myth and the body.
“It proved to be…gigantic,” Harvey continued.
So, you just weathered a really difficult Upper Michigan winter. I mean, the icebergs just melted in Lake Superior, and all these eager bastards are swimming in it already. What did you do to inaugurate the summertime, symbolically or otherwise?
I drank from the hose.
On February 4, the Brooklyn Detention Complex (formerly the Brooklyn House of Detention) held an open house for 400 members of the local community. As visitors, we were instructed that cellphones, video cameras, and electronic devices were not permitted, and I complied. But here’s what I would’ve photographed had cameras been allowed:
I had the chance to kick Gregory Corso to the curb. Could you blame me for mistaking him for a homeless man who had wandered into the gallery that afternoon? He had on a more than well-loved down jacket, one side hopelessly stained with what I hoped was coffee, and beneath it the left pocket had been completely torn away, exposing the white stuffing inside. He had barely a tooth in his head by that time, and his hair was matted as if he had just woken from a Rip Van Winkle sleep. He appeared in my tiny office, mid-sentence. I didn’t hear “hello,” or “what’s your name?”; maybe the world “lunch” was in there somewhere. Standing, I hoped to encourage his departure. I had grown up in Brooklyn and had had my share of experiences with street people. No direct eye contact was an important dictum, one that applied equally to madmen as it did to babies and dogs. Be firm and say little. Shut it down, and fast.
In my interview with the late Dennis Hopper, he described his love affair with photography as an obsession. “I’m a compulsive shooter.”
I think the same thing can be said about the New York street photographer Matt Bialer (who is also a recognized watercolorist and published poet).
I made homemade fries tossed with truffle salt and truffle oil.Now I need to go work out. Again.
January 18, 2010
I first saw Matt Logue’s photographs in an email from Very Short List, (if you aren’t signed up to that service, you should). There isn’t a whole lot that can be done with photography anymore, now that digital imagery has taken hold of the process. I recently went back to a 35mm film camera after years working with digital. There’s sharpness with film that is somehow missing from digital, it’s hard to explain, and I’m not trying to be a snob here, just a realist.
Empty LA is a throw back to Ansel Adams. Like that master, Logue is venturing into unknown territory, the empty streets of Los Angeles. It sounds odd to discover a photographer that finds something new to see and say on the streets of earthquake city, where the sun never stops shinning, and it always feels like Friday afternoon. Logue’s images are large and sprawling, even though I’ve only see a digital book, through a link on his site. There aren’t any people in these pictures, or cars, in a city that is know for its horizontal mobility, it’s shocking to see the place as just landscape and buildings.
Mr. Logue works in the film business and his images of downtown and the cityscape remind me of Michael Mann. I’m convinced Logue has taken pictures from the locations of my favorite movie, Heat. There’s a chrome slickness to these places, a polished glaze, garbage free, and it seems like a town that has forgotten about pollution. Logue’s hottest pictures are of the city, and the long empty stretches of highway that we only know to be filled with long stretches of cars. But I think the real gems here are the long shot from the cover, of Los Angeles from above, tinted in blue, and the other smaller shots that pepper the collection.
He must have stopped on his way out of the office one day to photograph a lonely telephone sitting on a dark conference room table, surrounded by leather chairs. Light from near by window leaks in and throws the rest of the human free landscape into deep shadows, pictures of Hollywood, without its players.
I’ve seen the Los Angeles that is shown in movies, Beverly Hills, the palm trees and beaches, Logue only shows one beach here, and you’ll never forget it. These pictures remind me of the Parralax View, I know that movie was shot outside L.A., (and has people in it, this is more like a feeling, or a vibe) but it has that thumping pulsing tone, I expect to see Warren Beatty turn the corner at the edge of one of these pictures. Logue makes my mind wander, and creates inspiration in the viewer with these images. Not biblical inspiration, but he makes you want to go out and take pictures after you look at his work, which is the best compliment a photographer can get.
Check out this book, and buy it here.
My mother has a photography addiction. She just has to take pictures of her family, or, if we’re unavailable, other people’s families. It’s been going on all our lives. She says she takes so many pictures of us because she loves us so much that she just has to capture any moment in which we’re all together, and she takes pictures of other people’s families because they’re always happy when they get them from her afterward. But I think it’s more of a compulsion. Whenever her mind is allowed to rest, whenever she doesn’t have something pressing to do, she thinks, I must take a picture! I must capture this, whatever it is!
For almost thirty years, every December she managed to get my sisters, brother, and me to sit and stand and crouch and kneel in a hundred combinations, grinning like idiots while she clicked her way through dozens of shots. Then she’d agonize over them for a week before selecting the best one for the holiday card.
When we were little, it was cute.
But later, like for instance when puberty was totally fucking with my complexion and my features and I had braces and was asked to wear my sister as a backpack, it wasn’t so cute.
Over time, these yearly photo shoots engendered some hostility among the children. We would groan and protest, but she always wore us down, and we’d end up throwing our arms around each other (or hopping on each others’ backs, I guess) and smiling.
“Come on, a real smile, Jeremy!”
“How can I smile for real when I don’t feel like smiling? Any smile I give you is going to be fake.”
“Well, fake it better! One, two, three! One… two…”
“Mom — we don’t need the count.”
My mom’s 25-year streak of posed holiday photos was broken when my brother Michael and I were living in New York and were thus unavailable for the holiday photo session. She was forced to choose from vacation photos, and the process was so much less painful that we decided this was how we’d do it from now on. This also forced her to learn how to use Photoshop, to, I think, great effect:
In the summer of 2004, my mom and dad took all of us to Europe. My mom had recently gotten her first digital camera, and it was too much for her to handle. Without having to reload film, with the ability to take so many pictures so quickly, she lost all self-control. Every moment seemed ripe to her for a possible holiday card picture.
In Brussels she got us everywhere: waiting at the baggage claim, sitting in the taxi, lying on the hotel beds, eating, standing on cobblestones in front of old buildings, sprawled on the steps of old buildings, staring at paintings inside old buildings, posing tiredly (and to the annoyance of onlookers at left) in a beer garden.
“Michael, don’t make a face. And open your eyes. Both of them!”
“I have a lazy eyelid. And I’m sensitive about it, so thanks a lot for pointing it out.”
In Bruges she took pictures of us chewing waffles, glaring at her in front of the Belfort, walking away from her in front of some cathedral. (”We’re Jews, mom,” Rebecca said. “We don’t give a shit about churches.”) The pictures are a time-lapse study in the disintegration of patience.
Back then my mom still clung to these outdated ideas in her head of how we should look, and she hadn’t yet found a way to reconcile that with the sad fact of our actual appearance. On the platform waiting for the train to Amsterdam, she whipped out the camera. “Rebecca, take off your glasses. I want to see your face.”
“My glasses are part of my face. Deal with it.”
“Jennifer, why don’t you ever wear your hair down? Let it down. Michael, look at me.”
Michael looked at her for a second, and looked away before she was ready.
“Oh, come on!”
She took the picture anyway. She couldn’t resist.
At this point Jennifer was the only one who seemed to have any good will left. But she’d always been the sweetest of all of us. And the most willing to humor my mom:
Our first morning in Amsterdam, my mom took pictures of us outside of Anne Frank’s house. Fortunately it was so crowded inside that she didn’t try to get us to pose in front of the false bookcase or act like we were sneaking around the attic.
She took pictures of us at the Jewish Historical Museum, on canal bridges, at Rembrandt’s house, in front of the museum of film and television. By the afternoon, we kids were burnt out, and our highs from a quick coffeeshop visit had faded into dull headaches.
My mom and dad wanted to go on a canal-boat tour. It sounded nice to me. The guidebook said you hadn’t really seen Amsterdam until you’d seen it from the water. My sisters complained, but they didn’t know how to get back to the hotel their ow
n. Damrak, where you could catch the boats, didn’t look that far on the map, and we were too many for a taxi, so we walked as the sun came out from behind the clouds. We walked and walked.
By the Amstel River, my mom, who’d started to lag behind a little, shouted, “Wait, guys. I want to take a picture. Come on, get together.”
There were some scruffy backpackers sitting on a bench right behind my mother, and I didn’t feel like putting on a show for them. I tried to keep walking, but my mother just shouted louder, “Come on! Jeremy, where are you going? Come back!”
I made the mistake of looking over my shoulder. She was waving frantically at me. I despised her for a few seconds, and then I despised myself, for causing exactly the scene I didn’t want to cause. I walked back.
We stood near each other, but that wasn’t good enough. “Take your sunglasses off.” The sun was directly in our eyes, and there was grumbling, but we complied, squinting. “Come on, open your eyes!”
Now Michael started to walk away. Jennifer grabbed him by the shirt. He called her a bitch for stretching out his shirt. She told him he was an asshole. We stood together, but my mom couldn’t get the camera to work. The people on the bench stared at us like maybe we were street performers. We were so loud and petty and American, surely one of us was going to end up in the canal and then my brother was going to take off his hat and pass it around for donations.
Sweaty and exhausted, we finally made it to the canal-boat ticket window just as a boat was leaving. We had to wait in the sun for a half-hour, and a line of about a hundred people formed behind us. I was behind my brother and my dad, so I didn’t see what happened next.
According to Rebecca, one of the boat guys had finally lifted the rope to let people board, and she began walking forward behind my mom. Rebecca didn’t see the official photographer perched next to the gangway, and so when my mom stopped suddenly, saying, “Oh — a picture! Come on, let’s take a picture!” Rebecca accidentally bumped into her.
“I mean, who needs a fucking professional boarding shot for an hour boat ride?” she said later. “Does this moment need to be recorded?”
So she just sort of bumped my mom. And my mom, overheated, her legs shaky from hours of walking, stumbled. One of her legs slipped into the gap between the boat and the dock, and she went down. Then the boat swung closer to the dock, acting like a vice on her thigh. She screamed.
My dad and brother rushed forward to pull her up. The photographer and a deck hand pushed against the boat with their feet. They got her back onto the dock, where she sat, shaking and rubbing her leg. All of the people lined up to get on the boat had pushed forward and gathered around us so that they could get a look at the spectacle.
“What happened?” my dad asked.
My mom pointed up at Rebecca, “She pushed me!”
Rebecca shifted on the fly from concern to indignation. “I did not! You tripped! She tripped!”
“No!” My mom shouted as my dad helped her to her feet. She tested her leg and winced. “You pushed me! I just wanted to stop and take a picture and you pushed me!”
“Mom!” Jennifer hissed. “Why would she push you? She loves you. It was an accident.”
“No,” my mom insisted. “No. No. No.” She’d peered into the abyss, and it had terrified her.
“I’m sure it wasn’t on purpose,” my dad said. “Can you walk?”
I was still speechless, but I thought, Nobody died. Let’s get the hell out of here. Grab a couple taxis, go straight to the airport and get on the first plane. We can send for our luggage.
But no. My mom had paid for a boat ride and she had waited in line for a boat ride, and she was going on a goddamned boat ride. And now that she had suffered a near-death experience for it, there was no way we could abandon her. She hobbled onto the boat with my dad, and did they go to the back of the boat, or at least the middle, to hide among the crowd?
No. They took seats in the second row, because they have no shame. My sisters led the way to seats six rows behind them. I followed my siblings, hoping that maybe if we didn’t all sit together, people wouldn’t recognize us as That Family.
That hope was crushed by mom’s shouting over people’s heads at Rebecca, “I can’t believe you pushed me! And no one even asked me if I’m OK.”
That wasn’t totally true, but she’d forfeited a lot of sympathy. You just don’t accuse a family member of assault in public.
Rebecca’s face was ashen. “I didn’t push her,” she said. “Maybe I bumped her a little, but it was an accident.”
“Of course it was,” Jennifer said.
The other tourists stared at my mom and dad, and then at us, as they walked down the aisle. Then, as if trotted out by God expressly for our benefit, a group of blind teenagers boarded the boat. They smiled faintly as they took small, shuffling steps behind their guides.
I envied those blind kids. They never knew when people were staring at them, had no idea I was staring at them.
It turned out that the blind kids didn’t see much less on that boat than we did. The windows were so foggy and water-spotted that the gabled houses were just blurry shapes looming over us. A crackly recorded voice described what we were seeing in five languages. One might have been English, but the speakers were so poor I couldn’t tell. Meanwhile, the blind kids sat serene as Buddhist monks, their guileless faces turned up toward the sun, their badly cut hair blowing in the cool breeze that came off the water.
When we returned to the dock, my mom hobbled off the boat with my dad. By the time the rest of us made it onto the sidewalk, she was waiting, camera in hand.
“Well, that sucked,” she grinned and pulled her camera up to her face. “Come on, you guys. Get together!”
What photos have on words is speed.
Photos can be evocative, epiphanic and emblematic instantly, faster than the printed word.
They suck us in at the speed of sight. The speed of emotion.
Part of this is because we read slowly, averaging around 200 words per minute. The human brain can synthesize 4-6 times that fast, some experts estimate around 2,000 words per minute. So your mind actually has to slow down when you’re reading, which is why reading can make you tired. Schools should teach us to speed read.
Audio books are generally read at 160wpm.
Court reporters and other professional typists can do about 70 wpm.
Handwriting produces about 30 wpm.
On the back of this photo it says June, 1980 in an unfamiliar hand. Taken by Mr. Garber.
Difficult to recall Little Kippers, crooked pigtails, Mr. Garber or his sons who sandwich like white bread.
This photo captures a generically cute and utterly insignificant moment of my life. But it has the power to make me see beyond the present moment, the everydayness which blinds me to the possible. My mother sent it in a random care package with dish scrubbies, a handwritten note and some DrySol, and because its arrival coincided with my Generalized Life Dissatisfaction, I stuck it to the fridge as one would a postcard from some far away place.
I forget what I was like at that age. What I thought, how I acted. My mother remembers – loves to remember – but bias makes her an unreliable witness. Video cameras weren’t big back then. Toddlers didn’t have blogs. It was a less documented time. And so my childhood is an anthology of blurry memories like this one, moments that feel collective and half-real.
Photos are hair triggers for interior dialogue, catalysts for introspection, yardsticks of our evolution. Or, in some cases, stasis.
In the Power family albums, my radiant mother, impish father and sweet sister are apparent. But to me I seem a cipher.
I am you. You are not me yet.
By inevitable comparison, my once mutable identity has developed into something wooden. Like so many adults I’ve gone marking the limits of my intelligence and beauty and capability. The die’s been cast.
Over winter this photo adorned the fridge and later migrated to the bill holder, finally settling on a tower of Esquires which occupy the spare dining room chair. My shy smile, rosy cheeks, vacant eyes – attributes of toddlers everywhere – make me appear both adorable and impenetrable. Putty, possibility, enigma.
I examine myself at three, head like a clean attic and heart like a new car, and some interior fire alarm trips.
If I stepped into the frame and told the three year old me what she had to look forward to was working in an office and paying bills and getting drunk at happy hour and writing fuzz and many more hours holding hands with boys of equitable inconsequence, I am sure she would cry.
I think about how humiliating it would be to explain how I’ve ignored or dismissed most of her nascent dreams. She would ask why, as all children do, and then it would be my turn to cry.
“Too often for the sake of reason, people commit to the meaningless,” wrote Susan Sontag in her critical analysis On Photography.
Which is also a pithy summary of my personal situation for the past number of years.This is where I live. This is what I do. This is who I am. This is okay.
Photography invites us to dream.
Puts us in a meditative state.
Compels us to seek the truth.
In “The Engine of Visualization: Thinking Through Photography”, writer Patrick Maynard suggests that photography allows us “…to imagine seeing things…imagination trades in possibility, in questions about things or states of affairs that, while not currently realized, might prove realizable.”
Simulating the future and remembering share the same network of brain processes and regions, interestingly. Evidence suggests the brain sifts through fragments of memories, recombines them, then produces a picture of possible future events. In essence we clipart our possible selves from snippets of old mental photographs.
Which is why those with impaired memories, like amnesia patients, have difficulty speculating on their futures.
Some philosophers believe mental change is dependent on physical change. This theory is called supervenience.
So it would follow that the best way to reconfigure one’s interior is simply to pack up and move.
Maybe to a rocky island in the Atlantic where creative writing programs are easy to get into, somewhere quaint and historical, with good mass transportation.
Where a new self is entirely possible.
When I was ten, my parents sent me to summer camp for two weeks. They made the arrangements secretly, knowing a fit was inevitable the minute they broke the news. I was an explosive kid, coming as I did from a histrionic family, and my parents wanted me gone for a while so they could rage at each other without me around to upstage them.
“The best models are those you’ve slept with,” was a line from one of her teachers that Ulli liked to repeat. ‘Happy New Year’ is what she called the picture, and you could buy it as a postcard in souvenir shops and book stores around West Berlin. This was 1988, when the city was still surrounded by Communism. The Wall was still intact. So were my dreams of becoming an actor. I was 22.
Ulli was the worst of friends, and we loved her. She forgot about my best friend Ollie, my ex-girlfriend Maike and me for months at a time, until she once again needed unpaid models for a photo shoot. Ulli smelled of Nivea lotion, her whole car smelled of it, as though she had rubbed it into the seats. She was a wet dream, tall, with long, shiny hair and pouty lips and padding in all the right places. But when she opened her mouth, her Rhineland drawl cracked the image. She was given to whines and complaints, and all of us listened. It was better to listen. The one time I contradicted her complaints, she took off on me. In front of the out-of-the-way movie theater where she had driven us.
Ulli’s assignments always involved nudity, and just to please her and be near her, I readily exposed all my flings and girlfriends to the needs of her camera. She smeared us with black paint and feathered us. She poured Blue Curacao over our heads. I faked sex or had sex in front of Ulli’s lens.
Ollie had once slept with her and said she was a screamer. He had also slept with Maike, when she hadn’t been my ex-girlfriend yet, and she was pregnant now, from him, from me, or from her new lawyer boyfriend. All viable possibilities. But she wanted me to accompany her to the abortion clinic. Ulli knew all this, but there was an important deadline coming up, and she invited Ollie, pregnant Maike and me to pose together in the nude, and we did without a complaint.
One cold October afternoon, two weeks before the abortion, I abandoned two friends who had come to visit me in West Berlin, because Ulli called. She needed to take pictures and make some money. She needed me to come over, because her teacher and boyfriend had dumped her. I left my friends in a hurry and went over to Ulli’s apartment.
I knew what her call meant and I knew I might not have been the first one she called. I was hardly in the door when she grabbed me. Her face was wet, her nose running. Stroking her hair, I could feel the scar from the time her father had thrown her onto the bed, her head hitting the wall. Everyone knew this story about her dad in Düsseldorf, this one and many others.
“Why did he leave me?”
“I don’t know,” I said into her hair.
“He said I was immature,” she sobbed.
“No you’re not.”
She pulled me down onto the floor, took off my studded belt, wrestled the tight black pants off me. I had forgotten to bring condoms and worried. Ulli was promiscuous, AIDS was a possibility. And yet I didn’t protest when she sat down over me, stuffing me inside her the way you would stuff a croissant into your mouth after a long night out. Her eyes were red, her face puffy, but she was beautiful, and I wished to burn the image of naked Ulli into my brain. There was so much reality – it kept hitting my face, I could hardly see. And then she started screaming, and my ex-girlfriend Maike had been silent, always silent, and Ulli screamed as she was riding me. She screamed violently as though my body were a bag of knives.
I didn’t want to come too soon and had once read a story of a guy who was thinking of sledding in arctic forests to cool himself off. I imagined that sled, the cold, the frozen tracks in the deep snow, and that picture of the guy on his sled in the Nordic wilderness turned me on. So instead I thought of AIDS some more. Ulli screamed and I thought of going to get an AIDS test, which was free in a clinic half a mile away, and I imagined the grave face of the doctor who would give me the bad news. And it did cool me off, only not in the way I had hoped for.
Not to lose momentum and to show her what a great lover I was – after all, this was Ulli, wet dream Ulli, gorgeous, glamorous Ulli – I turned her around and thrust as hard as I could. I knew Ollie had never gotten over her, and I was already looking forward to telling him that yes, she was a screamer. It was a revelation, she seemed to really and ferociously enjoy herself. “I can’t anymore,” she finally said into the carpet.
The best, though, was the aftermath, the slightly awkward time we took to acknowledge what we had just done, with half-smiles and kisses. The resting on the carpet, her Rhineland drawl announcing that we needed to take those pictures. “The best models are those you’ve slept with,” Ulli said almost tenderly, and I grinned.
She told me not to get dressed and handed me two sparklers, which I was supposed to twirl around my butt. In front of a black background I lit them and twirled and burned myself and twirled some more. Then she gave me two sticks of Bengal sparklers, and their green flames shot up, thick smoke quickly filling the room. And I twirled again and Ulli’s shutter kept clicking and clacking away until the Bengal sparklers exploded, and the burning tips shot into the blue carpet and set it on fire.
Ulli dropped the camera and shrieked. I stood naked in all that smoke, staring at the smoldering carpet, and the still burning sticks in my hands. “Do something, do something,” Ulli shrieked and ran out of the room. I stomped with my heels on the carpet fire, then ran over to the window, opened it, and threw the lights down into the street. I stood naked by the window, two curious faces peeking out at me from a an apartment across the street, smoke escaping into the cold fall air. And for a strange moment – a moment in which Maike’s pregnancy, her cheating with Ollie, AIDS, Ulli’s teacher, my stinging feet, the smell of burned synthetics, Ulli’s screams from the kitchen, and my own future were whirling around me — I was happy.
In 1988 I was fourteen years old, five-foot-nine, skinny, flat-chested and at least four more years away from any proper evidence of puberty. To compound all of this luminous adolescent joy I was also morbidly shy and horrifically self-conscious. In short, I was a child. A bloody tall child, but a child nonetheless.
My hair was long and brown, my eyebrows heavy, my cheeks full. I was so thin, and so tormented by my thinness, that I ate as much as I could to try and gain weight. I ate all sorts of crap. Nothing happened. I remained, despite all efforts, a wisp of skin and bones, stumbling when I ran, blown hither and thither by gusts of strong wind and glances from strangers. The sad truth is that I come from a family of stick insects, and the physique I would later be grateful for was a thing of shame and sadness in my formative years. Victimized and scorned, I was teased mercilessly about my stature by other children. My nicknames were, amongst others: Olive Oyl, Bean Pole, Stick, Twig, and, my personal favorite, Inverted, a name given to me by the boys in my neighborhood in honor of my invisible breasts. Humiliated by my non-existent chest, I covered my body as much as I could and engaged, whenever possible, in the bust-increasing exercises I read about in Judy Bloom books.
These were not my glory days.
As an only child growing up without television I sought solace in books and art. I wrote and drew and ate up words and pictures with my heart and mind and soul. Aesthetics and language nourished me. I wanted to be an architect, an artist, a writer, a filmmaker, a designer of things. I had dreams and ambitions that most parents would be proud of, at least any parents with artistic persuasions.
But then something happened, something my mother had known was going to happen for some time, something she allowed but didn’t necessarily want, something my father had dreaded and detested, and something I would never have expected.
They came a-calling.
Model agents are a curious bunch—always on the lookout for young girls they can take on and “protect” and “nurture” while at the same time pushing them into a hyper-sexualized and shallow world where they will earn money for being blessed with good looks, without having to use their brains or their creativity, and where they will be rewarded for being a glorified clothes hanger who knows how to work a camera (and maybe, if they’re really good, a room).
These agents I speak of have eyes and instincts that can see beyond the shyness, the scrawny exterior and inverted bosom. They have minds that add the numbers, do the math, envision the war paint and see, through slitted eyes, the finished product.
Click. Whir. Click.
The photographer who shot my mother’s loft for a spread in Vogue Living requested to take a picture of me as I skulked in the corner in my ill-fitting, unflattering, blue-and-white checked school uniform, with ink stains on my fingertips, a snarl upon my youthful lips, and daggers in my diamond-eyes.
A vicious little virgin was I.
She took the photo and, when she left, took it with her, changing my life in an instant in ways I will never be able to digest without feeling a cocktail of conflicting emotions.
The phone rang.
Will you come down and see us?
My mother, reticent but loving, conversed with me as she would an adult. Her first mistake.
In a matter of hours we were sitting in an agency. This was nothing very new to my mother. As a designer and semi-retired fashion icon herself, she was clued in to the scene. But, as a disciplinarian, she was a tad… elastic. Either that or I was an uncontrollable hellion, given an inch and greedily taking a hundred miles.
Conversations were had. Things discussed and mulled over. The nice people who wanted to represent me were comfortable with the restrictions my mother placed on the arrangement.
I could only work on weekends, in Melbourne, and only, only, ONLY if it was a high-profile or high paying job. Considering that the majority of all modeling/fashion industry work in Australia stemmed out of Sydney this seemed like a perfectly tight arrangement. Enough to keep me quarantined while also allowing me to feel special—something a gangly girl in the art department with a funny, foreign accent had a hard time feeling in a school full of righteous upper-middle-class bitches with a knack for cruelty.
Unfortunately for my mother (and my ego), something else happened that changed the course of our lives.
I booked a job.
Two days after that first meeting we got the call.
Vogue magazine was flying their entire crew down from Sydney to work with me on an eight-page editorial. Over the weekend.
I was off and posing, and nothing in my world would ever be the same again. Over the next few years my grades would suffer, my ego would soar, my belligerence double. By 15, I would be living in Tokyo alone over the holidays; by 16, in Paris and Milan. I would leave school. I would be hit on by vile cretins, assuming me to be stupid or willing to advance my career with sexual favors. I would be punished with no work when I didn’t play the game. I would see strange things, do even stranger things and sometimes even do strangers. I would meet wonderful people and terrible assholes. I would make lots of money and spend it all. I would look like a young girl but live like a woman while I behaved like a princess and partied like a devil. I would move on and on, traveling for the better part of twelve years, never finding a home but always seeking one. Eventually I would find it in America in the least likely of places. But that’s another story. At this point my life was still a vague, uncertain, exciting future, and I was just a kid with dreams. And, two months later, when my first editorial in Vogue hit the stands, I looked like a prepubescent, innocent, wide-eyed virgin-child caught playing dress-ups in her mother’s most expensive evening gowns and stiletto-heeled shoes.
It’s an ugly reality that those pictures appeared in a magazine targeted towards 35-to-40-year-old women, and higher. This magazine became one of my regular clients and frequently used me to sell clothes, style and a physical ideal to middle-aged women more than twice my age. Even as a kid I thought this was weird and somehow inappropriate. I didn’t understand it but nor did I question it, and I still willingly danced with and followed the piper, for he played a most enticing and seductive tune.
It’s a strange, strange world, and we’re in it.
October 29, 2006
Yesterday I went to the opening of an exhibition at a small art gallery.
I love exhibitions. Especially when they’re small and quirky.
The invitation to the opening was nondescript and black, and gave no indication of what the art was going to be like, or even what medium it was going to presented in. All we could discern from such an oblique invite were the artists’ names, ksubi and Kane, and the title of the new collection.