About photobooks – old and new.
New York 1989-93
Published in 2016 by Andre Freres editions
8vo, softcover with rigid dust jacket
“New York 1989-93″is a biographical photobook, part of a series of 12 books, which main purpose is to give readers a general perspective of Antoine d’Agata’s wanderings, experiences and encounters during different periods of his life.
Antoine d’Agata is a french photographer known for working with difficult topics, such as addiction, prostitution, sex, and mental instability. In “New York 1989-93”, the main subject is an intimate experience with drugs and d’Agata’s own identity quest. A first group of pictures focus on addiction, depicting someone shooting drugs with a syringe. There is also pictures of someone apparently high or in distress.
A second group of pictures are of a very different nature. They are self portraits and portraits of d’Agata’s parents, pointing to an overall quest of identity. As indicated in the flyer inserted in the book: “Mais qui est A?”…”un personage virtuel d’une fiction performee qui lui permet d’aller la ou il n’irait pas lui-meme.” This sense of mystery about himself is accentuated by a fragmented storyline. It is not clear how much of this intimate journal is real or fictional. The reader is left without any certainty, requiring more careful observation and interpretation.
Many of these photos are raw and visceral, a typical style and language adopted by d’Agata in his overall photography work. They capture moments of extreme experiences, but also ambiguous states of pleasure or suffering. That ambiguity is accentuated by the fact that the photos are often grainy or blurred, and shot in dark environments. There is for instance a portrait with a distorted face, reminiscent of an agonizing figure painted by Francis Bacon.
All the books from this series, including this one, are presented in an accordion-folded format, as d’Agata rejected the idea of having them in a classic format forgotten on a shelf. Instead, an according-folded format allows for the book to be displayed on a table or on a wall. When opened, the book is about 10 feet long (3 meters and 24 cm).