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January 22, 2004

A Guilty Pleasure

Most all the art snobs I know have their own guilty pleasures around the pop culture machine that they consume semi-regularly...whether it's the top 40 boy/girl band they listen to privately while professing the virtues of Sleater-Kinney, Outkast, or the White Stripes (or name your cool rock/hip hop band of the moment), the celebrity talk show they can't resist tuning into even as they write their latest check to NPR, or the copy of People Magazine or Us that they steal glances at while meaning to get to their latest Amazon hardcover purchase.

My guilty pleasure is Interview Magazine, which of course was the Warhol magazine brainchild that begat a lot of the dreadful celebrity rags that surround us now. Interview has been through a few facelifts in its 20 or so years of existence, but in the face of the sheer glitz and high tech that characterizes today's celebrity culture media machine, Interview is almost a cotton candy relic now...and I like it with its more modest and lightweight current profile.

It's a pleasant way to view some interesting fashion oriented photography and (relatively straightforward) celebrity portraiture as well, and everything is presented in a much more modest way than fat, glossy, overweight and self-important vehicles like Vogue, Harper's and Vanity Fair. I always find that I get some good ideas by browsing through the magazine before doing a portraiture shoot, even if I don't intend anything close to the look the magazine features for its subjects. (There's quite a bit of boring and even embarassing photography as well, but that goes with the territory).

The issue I picked up has a feature story on Naomi Watts photographed by Ellen Von Unwerth, much of it in the style of the roaring '20s, with Watts cast as a "latter-day Daisy Buchanan" according to the mag...though the most interesting images have Watts looking more contemporary and androgynous in the effectively creepy way that Von Unwerth works with most female models (see cover image below).

interview_mag_cover.jpg
Naomi Watts by Ellen von Unwerth

Also featured of interest are some tintypes by Stephen Berkman accompanying a feature on the movie "Cold Mountain", a Karl Lagerfeld layout featuring Linda Evangelista that's definitely hit or miss, a couple of "lost" Herb Ritts photographs of Eric Balfour, and a short (the only kind the mag has) one page feature on Lucas Samaras, self-portrait photographer extraordinaire. Plus boatloads of the usual celebrity interviews celebrity fluff that still yields a good barb or dishy gossip if you're willing to read closer. And even some thoughtful, if very brief, music and film commentary buried in every other issue or so.

interview_jack_white_tintype.jpg

Jack White tintype by Stephen Berkman

The printing quality of the magazine is pretty mixed, to be generous, so the photographs, even when they're good, don't get the treatment they deserve...in fact, the issue I have is bad enough that I think a couple of spreads look slightly out of focus when they weren't intended to be. But I still find the magazine a cheap and worthwhile diversion. Anyway, at 8 bucks a year for a subscription, it's not a bad deal at all.


P.S. On a more serious note, Antonio of defocused, whose site I recommended yesterday, now has a page of his Polaroid transfer nudes featured on the Polaroid site. Worth visiting, for Polaroid transfer stuff that's much more serious, thoughtful, and gritty... thanks to Luis at flux+mutability for the reference.

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Comments

thanks for the reference

Posted by: António at Jan 28, 2004 6:05:20 AM

Just heard about Steven Berkman on NPR last night. What is his contact number?
Thank you.

Posted by: Jo-Jeanne Rapiér at Mar 24, 2008 7:43:58 PM

Naomi Watts what a nice cover page..Nice work Ellen von Unwerth

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lol what a suggestive picture with Naomi Watts there ! :))

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