Jason Eskenazi’s Latest Project: “The Black Garden”

Jason Eskenazi, author of one of my (and many other peoples’) favorite photography books of all time Wonderland: A Fairy Tale of the Soviet Monolith, is working on a new project and is asking for our support via Kickstarter. As usual there are a number of rewards for helping to fund the project, including signed copies of the hard-to-find Wonderland at the $100 level.

I want to understand the contemporary dilemmas of our civilization by seeking modern equivalents to the East/West dichotomy. From the mythic Trojan War, to the split of the Roman Empire, to Islamic control over Western Europe, to today’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to the revolutions in Egypt and Libya, human history has been plagued by successive waves of both territorial and cultural conquest across the Eurasian divide over the course of 3000 years. This ancient world spanned the same locales where many of the world’s crises are now taking place.

I will do this by creating a companion to my published book Wonderland: A Fairy Tale of the Soviet Monolith (recently reviewed on National Public Radio and winner of Best Photography Book by POYi) where I interpreted the former Soviet Union as a story about childhood maturation – from childhood fairy tales to adult mythology. And like mythology, this new story, The Black Garden, centers on the nature of duality. Does it arise from out of our imagination or does it have a physical geographical basis? I will investigate the influence of ancient Greek ideals and myths, as well as eastern views, in our modern time by photographing today’s current events within our the vast geographical and mythical world known to ancient Greece: from Southern Italy to the Indus River in India in order to see contemporary dilemmas within a historical, journalistic, and artistic light.

Eskenazi has a great proposal (I think we could even study it as a good example of how to write our own) and already has an interesting set of photographs (and a book dummy) to kick this off. I hope it reaches full funding and that we can all see the results of the new project soon. I’m looking forward to having the new book on my shelf.

SW!PE Magazine

SW!PE Magazine is created by and features the work of former and active guards at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Favorite Jason Eskenazi is one of the founders of the project and gives word that The New York Times has published an article about the magazine’s first issue and opening exhibition. Check out the article for more background and a nice gallery of various works that are featured in the magazine. You can buy a copy of the first issue “Guards’ Matter”, which sold out at the opening, through their website.

“In September, the Robert Frank photography exhibit “The Americans” came to the museum and Mr. Eskenazi requested a transfer to its gallery. “Being inside that maze of photos was like a meditation,” he said, adding “but a torture knowing that I should not be here guarding art but making it. ” In November, he left to concentrate on his art.”

Another great example of artists (and workers, as they point out) taking matters in to their own hands and getting their work out there and in the form they want. Congrats to everyone involved in this project, I hope to see a copy of the magazine sometime soon.

And speaking of Eskenazi you should have a look at this gallery of his work and writing at globalpost.com if you haven’t already.