I Love New York

Sorry for the lack of posting on my end, especially of things that aren’t all about me, I’ve been a bit busy on the road. I’m still in New York City, trying to stay warm and get through the gauntlet of editor meetings, and will head out for Belgrade on 2/4. I’ve had a tremendous time here so far, and am giddy to be able to hit up all my favorite restaurants, bars and bookstores. I love this city so much.
Today, for example, I had a meeting in midtown where I was treated to a good conversation and great feedback on my work all the while with a wonderful 27th-floor Manhattan view, then I headed downtown and had some Shanghai Soup Dumplings in Chinatown, a food I’ve been wanting to try for months, then off for a walk through Tribeca to my friend Alan Chin’s exhibition at Sasha Wolf Gallery, then walked up town a bit to make my pilgrimage to Dashwood Books. Where else can you do all of this in a couple of hours?

This is just one afternoon, since I’ve been back in the city since the Inauguration (gallery now on my website) I’ve also had the fortune to see the wonderful William Eggleston retrospective at the Whitney Museum, and it was really beautiful and engaging. (And a great compliment to the Robert Frank’s The Americans exhibition which I saw in DC). On Monday I also (accidentally) found myself in the middle of the Chinese New Years celebrations in Chinatown, and those are the pictures illustrating this post. I’m sure M. Scott will post some of his (wholly cooler) pictures soon.
So like I said the main reason I’m here in New York is to make connections with editors, publications and other photographers. So far, this has been a great experience and have learned a lot (about my work, about the ‘industry’), and I think it will lead to work and opportunities soon. The biggest stress has come, not surprisingly, from the production of my print portfolio. Between making one edit, getting prints made, finding out they looked like crap, then having another meeting with Alan Chin and the amazing Jason Eskenazi who encouraged me to reedit things in some drastic ways, then having the new prints take forever (and missing my complete book for my first two meetings). I am very proud of the result, I think this is my most personal portfolio to date (it includes more of ‘my’ pictures than edits for other people). As you can see below, I have come to 20 pictures from my Kosovo stories and 10 from I See A Darkness, and I am bringing along my laptop to show a slideshow of my Inauguration pictures. It was a tough decision, to leave out my Homeless in Seattle story and any singles or recent work (it was tough to leave out pictures like this). On one hand this features some of my strongest work that is related to my ‘pitch’ about living in this region, on the other it doesn’t speak to the diversity in my larger portfolio. This became an issue today when an editor thought my work was lacking a strong story; she liked I was trying to find a way to illustrate a ‘big idea’ (of ‘New York’, or ‘Kosovo’) but wanted to see me tackle a more singular issue. Absolutely this is something I need to focus on, but other pictures or stories would have shown my work on this kind of piece. Ultimately, there is no way to please everyone and yourself at the same time or to cover all possible bases. When I said this was a learning process for me, this is at the heart of it.

I mentioned that I made my trip to photo book mecca Dashwood Books and I wanted to report back on some of the wonderful things I found there. I was ecstatic to find a number of books that I have been waiting for (and searching for at all lesser bookstores), including my first encounter with an Antoine D’Agata book (Situations), Eugene Richards’ The Blue Room (which I thought was beautifully sparse and an incredible, post-silent-apocalypse vision of America. Remarkable that these pictures are from this photographer, I think it speaks a lot to his soul. M Scott wrote about this book on dva a few months ago too). I also got to see Boogie’s two new books, Belgrade Belongs To Me and Sao Paolo. His Belgrade work, as I wrote here before with mini-interview and with my big book wish-list, is my favorite work from him… great to see an ‘exile/refugee’ photographer returning home (I’m thinking Antonin Kratochvil and Josef Koudelka especially, who both happen to be from Czechoslovakia. This would be a great post … Hope I remember to write it). Great surprises too were Beaufort West by Mikhail Subotzky, which was fantastic, and last year’s European Publishers Award winning book I, Tokyo by the Danish photographer Jacob Aue Sobel, who I met in Oslo last year and was very excited to see his new work in finished form. Incredible, visceral work (like usual for him) that draws immediate connections to the iconic Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama, who happens to be a specialty of Dashwood. They even had a wonderful new, rare edition called Hokkaido. Finally, I was able to reconnect with a very important and influential book for me, Gilles Peress’ terrible masterpiece Farewell to Bosnia. As I wrote awhile ago the title alone says so much about Peress and his understanding of Bosnia: the dream of a multi-ethnic and tolerant state evaporated with the war, and his work there is evidence of this disintegration.

Now I’m off to that cauldron to see where things have progressed and what remains in ten years of post-war reconstruction. I will, if you have patience, continue to update my story here; and I promise to finally get to that ‘explaining what the heck I’m doing’ post soon. I think it would be helpful, because I have to explain the story ten times a day to friends and editors who are rather befuddled when I tell them I’m moving to Belgrade indefinitely 🙂 Before then though I have a few more meetings and hope to make it to a couple of more exhibitions (if you’re reading this and have suggestions, please send them my way!) including maybe the opening of the latest Hey Hot Shot! edition that features friend and Dva-interviewee Donald Weber. That, and trying to repack all of my stuff into my few bags. Too many books, I just couldn’t cut back. The only thing keeping me from going even further overboard, what with the deals at Strand, is the painful memory of hauling this stuff from JFK to the Upper West Side and the muscle memory that I’ll have to do it again real soon. Think I’ve got to get to Chinatown for a massage…

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