INTERVIEW // Ken Schles on ‘Invisible City’, ‘Night Walk’ and Existential Impulses

“For generations the Lower East Side was a churning cauldron of activity. Site of immigrants (my own family passed through there more than a century ago), it already had a long history of renewal and decay.”

Alex Bocchetto: With Invisible City you narrated New York’s East Village and Alphabet City from a very personal point of view. Can you tell us your experience in shooting for the project back then?

Ken Schles: Even after all these years it still feels a little alien to me to hear Invisible City referred to as a “project.” I guess we can call it a project. I was responding to what I was seeing and feeling at the time—where I found myself. Invisible City was about confronting and overcoming fears: it was about being locked inside my apartment and feeling trapped, but also wanting to venture out. To go out into what seemed an overwhelming, arbitrary, inscrutable, dangerous world. I didn’t quite know how to proceed. I was unsure of myself. I had no money and few resources. But I recognized that what I experienced everyday when I walked the streets near my home wasn’t reflected in what I saw in mainstream media. I felt compelled to capture that mood, which for me was so tangible, so palpable. And obvious too: what I was experiencing was intimately connected to outcomes of recent history: the collapse of the inner city, postwar deindustrialization, economic stratification, cultural dislocation, race tensions, the drug wars, the rise of AIDS. My state of mind—what I saw and how I lived—was a direct result of social and economic machinations that had been grinding along for a long time. The degraded physical environment… it all weighed upon me.



(Alex Bocchetto of Akina Books Interviews Ken Schles)

William Eggleston (For Now)

For Now is the result of filmmaker Michael Almereyda’s year-long search through the Eggleston archives, a remarkable collection of heretofore unseen images spanning four decades of work by one of our seminal artists. Unusual in its concentration on family and friends, the book highlights an air of offhand intimacy, typical of Eggleston and typically surprising.

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INTERVIEW // Photographer Mike Slack

The Los Angeles-based press The Ice Plant, run by Mike Slack and Tricia Gabriel, is among small presses currently turning out photography books that are more manuscript than monograph. Aside from co-managing The Ice Plant, Slack is a photographer who up until this point has worked mostly in Polaroid, producing a series of books that ask to be read despite their lack of text.
I walked up to the Ice Plant booth at the LA Art Book Fair this April and Believer illustrations editor Jason Polan said hey and introduced me to Mike Slack. Mike Slack showed me a picture of a dome in Casa Grande. Over the next few months we emailed one another.
—Bucky Miller


THE BELIEVER: When I ran into you at the LA Art Book Fair you were having a conversation about some black and white laser prints that you made and were selling in unlimited editions for five dollars each. You said that you might go print more that night if something sold out. It’s a total contrast to the unique-object Polaroid prints that you’ve made in the past, but the aesthetic of the pictures has stayed relatively constant. What were the major catalysts for your shift in process?

MIKE SLACK: Those prints were made quickly and cheaply while I was doing something else—we needed a big poster for The Ice Plant’s space at the Fair and at the last minute I added a few of the pictures I’d been playing with earlier in the week. I liked the effect – distressed, dreamy, Xerox-like – cranked out a few more, cut them into a stack of smaller posters to sell at our table, then kept going back to print more as they sold. I’ve been staring at all these new digital photographs the last few months—scrutinizing the pictures in super-hi-res full color on a bright backlit screen, correcting, adjusting, controlling, etc—so the lo-fi effect of those laser prints, with all their flaws & variations, was really liberating. 


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A Conversation with Ahndraya Parlato & Gregory Halpern

Ahndraya Parlato & Gregory Halpern are photographers based in Rochester, New York. Their first collaborative book East of the Sun, West of the Moon (Études Books, 2014) was released last fall. Lavalette would like to thank Ahndraya and Gregory to taking the time for this conversation while they are temporarily living and working out in Los Angeles, California.

from East of the Sun, West of the Moon © Ahndraya Parlato & Gregory Halpern

from East of the Sun, West of the Moon © Ahndraya Parlato & Gregory Halpern


Benjamin Chadbond & Patrick Mason: Études Studio has recently published your book East of the Sun, West of the Moon, a series containing images by you both. The work contains many references to binary concepts such as night and day, birth and death, lightness and darkness and continuity and transition. This is the first time you have produced a body of work together, perhaps a poignant parallel to the ideas of duality expressed in the book. Can you talk a little bit about how these ideas influenced the work and how they manifested themselves through your collaboration?

Ahndraya Parlato: Some of the binary concepts you’ve listed above are a product of the guidelines we gave ourselves while producing the images, which were all made on either a Solstice or an Equinox. Being both the longest and shortest days of the year, the ideas of light/dark, and day/night, are inherent to these days; and as markers of seasonal change, crop sowing, and reaping, also call to mind birth and death. In addition, we were having a baby while working on the book, and this only further enhanced our interest in these ideas, giving them a more personal nature.


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Purchase East of the Sun, West of the Moon here.


I know we say this every single issue, but seriously, this issue? Number 46? It’s the best issue we ever done did. Check it out. Ex-Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns breaks his eight-year silence to tell us why he’s been silent for eight years; Skater/Painter Brian Lotti discusses the invention of the Big Spin and the virtues of lugging an easel up a hill; New York artist Weirdo Dave talks about glue and magazines and his freakishly limited experience with the Internet; and Nate Lawrence takes us behind-the-scenes of Kai Neville’s latest surf flick, Cluster. After that, Brodie Jackson does some tattoos that will make you wish you weren’t afraid to get tattoos; Color magazine’s Sandro Grisonreveals Vancouver’s best places to eat, sleep, drink, skate, expel wind and party; the delightfulCharles Manson takes a break from his wedding plans to tell you what the future holds in your horoscope; and Mike Gigliotti explains how a sensitive artist like himself wound up in the military. Also, Dylan Reider puts together a mix tape guaranteed to make you skate better, and, as always,Andy JenkinsDave CarnieVaughan Dead, and myself waffle on and on and on about anything we want.

To heck with Oily Amateurs, it’s all happening in Monster Children #46!

- Ed


Zoom in on Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 cult classic

By Eugene Reznik

David Hemmings in Blow Up (Regie: Michelangelo Antonioni), 1966 by Arthur Evans

“It’s my job. Some people are bull-fighters. Some people are politicians. I’m a photographer,” says Thomas, the protagonist of Michelangelo Antonioni’s cult classic and best box office-grossing 1966 film “Blow-Up.”

Played by David Hemmings, Thomas is a hip, brash fashion shooter in London’s ‘Swinging Sixties,’ an era when British lensmen dominated and reinvigorated glossy model spreads in magazines. A distant dream for photographers today, he drives a Rolls Royce through the city, and has young aspiring models stalking him to have their picture taken. Despite his success and the hedonistic rewards that come with it, Thomas grows increasingly bored of his commercial work and drawn ever more to the social documentary potential of photography, to reportage and street shooting. After moonlighting, quite literally, spending nights snapping stealthy frames in a homeless shelter, Thomas comes upon a couple embracing in Maryon Park, and kneels to capture a candid moment.


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I Just Won a World Press Photo Award and a POYi, But I’m Not Celebrating

by Tim Matsui & Mediastorm

“Natalie” at home.

This week, World Press Photo awarded The Long Night a First Prize for Long Feature. Last month, it was named Documentary Project of the Year by Pictures of the Year International.

The Long Night is a feature length documentary film about sex trafficking and underage prostitution in America. It is also one component of a much larger, ongoing project called Leaving The Life.


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