DoBeDo is happy to announce the addition of its newest contributor, Sean Vegezzi.
Sean Vegezzi (b. 1990) has mapped New York City’s landscape through photo, video, installation, and recreational practices-turned-performance-art since 2001. His first book of photographs, I Don’t Warna Grow Up, was published by Fourteen Nineteen in 2012. Since then, Vegezzi has expanded his practise to include architectural, spatial and performative interventions on the fabric of the city, such as through recent projects Scott and Joey (both 2015) – as well as curating works by artists in temporary spaces such as 15 Warren and 170 Suffolk. His most recent project, Snow Cab, was released in May 2016.
1. You are very much a born and bred New Yorker, how are you finding your recent travels away from home turf? Has it made you think about anything new in particular?
New York is very special to me, but I’ve never really acknowledged my own thoughts about how much I want to get away from it. When I was younger I was a bit scared of making my world a bit larger because I knew so many good things come from a sort of narrow, singular focus, or wearing blinders so to speak – to the point of it feeling masochistic – I knew that experiencing any kind of basic happiness or normality through something like a simple beach trip, would distract me from making the first images I made. Now that I’m almost finished with my last project to do with that work, I’m very interested in leaving New York.
2. I recently enjoyed reading the text you wrote for your new book ‘Snow Cab’. Did writing come to you before taking pictures? And how do you like to use text in your work?
I have always written. The things I write are usually very long, full of typos and overwrought, but I’m getting somewhere I think. I began playing with cameras much later on. I really like giving context to work, maybe to a fault. I enjoy allowing both images and text to be contextual support for one another. The Snow Cab text is very much a framework for the works that appear in the book, I gave a slightly different version of that text out to the close friends I had invited to see the actual Snow Cab exhibition as soon as they had walked in. Ultimately, people don’t have to read anything you hand to them, most people won’t… but I like having context present in the rare occasion that someone is interested.
3. When we met and you took me onto the roof of a skyscraper and down into a hidden part of the subway I felt the most exciting adrenaline rush that I had felt in a very long time… Do you get addicted to that rush?
I certainly know the feeling you’re talking about, but I have never been addicted to that feeling. I’m very excited by the more quiet aspects of those kinds of experiences. It’s easy to fixate on the cowboy-esque feeling inherent in those kinds of missions, but that always takes away from the research, the effort that goes into discovering such spaces, the reward of privacy and a view that was previously unseen for me. I will say that I get quite anxious if I don’t pass through every space around me in some way or another. I get even more anxious at the thought that there are spaces I’ll never get to see along my travels, places that only ‘pests’ might see or something!
4. All those pictures in your first book and the issues they raised about unexplored areas of a rapidly more sterile New York, security, youthful exploration etc. Are those things still as central to what you are doing currently?
What I find so comforting about that work – is that it continues to breathe without me meddling with it. That work becomes more and more important as time goes on. The places throughout that book are being repurposed, destroyed, sealed off or forgotten about… all while the idea of accessing them is becoming more and more difficult for countless reasons, but the images have been made. They fulfill a very fundamental objective of photography – to preserve, but they never become stagnant. With that said, the experiences that I’ve had making that work, the places that I’ve seen making that work, and the people I moved throughout those spaces with – all continue to inform things I make – whether or not those people and places are being depicted in what I’m making.
I am very interested in punctuation though, in finishing projects and placing people, places, and ideas in the past. I named that project “I Don’t Warna Grow Up” out of a joke – I was feeling quite sensitive to how much youth gets obsessed over, I had already changed so much by the time that work was finished, I could see the exit I had to make from it, I could see the limits of that kind of work and I wanted new things.
5. Who are your heroes / influences?
I’m very spooked by the idea of traditional heroes, or very direct influences – I feel like they can create an attraction to canons, and an attraction to knowing and retaining information about people other than yourself. That attraction can make me knowledgeable about their work, but take away from my own sense of self. I feel as if too much knowledge and influence can make me quite reticent about sharing my ideas, or expressing myself out of an extreme awareness of what has been done before. It sounds like I’m saying that I think looking at other peoples work is bad, but I’m really just saying that sometimes I like to be careful about how much of other peoples work I’m taking in. I’ve got those blinders on right now.
But about very basic influences, outside of the idea of looking at things that other people have made, I’m so influenced by people, whether they’re people I’m intimate with or people I’ve spoken to for a few seconds. I like meeting people that I feel are better than me, I don’t have an inferiority complex, I really want to pull something good from everybody as earnest as that sounds… and I think that’s very related to photography – finding value in anything, pulling meaning from the lowest and highest places.
6. Is romance alive in 2016?
I don’t know what romance is. I think that really beautiful things can happen in 2016, things get really basic and hot when the world unravels.
7. Do vs. Be?
Be. Do is something you can drop in on now and again without really being anything.
An erect penis goes up against the new 1 World Trade Center. It stands like a sentry over Lower Manhattan, self-assured that its presence symbolizes the defeat of New York grime of yore: open air sex markets, emotionally disturbed wanderers, perpetrators of both serious and petty crime.
The cock’s message is not one of nostalgia, nor does it romanticize the idea of an unsafe city.
A timely erection can outlive concrete, glass and steel.
The T-shirt comes with a free poster with text by Sean Vegezzi and designed by Edward Quarmby.
This Tshirt can also be purchased here (at a discount) as part of the DoBeDo Photographers Series Tshirt Subscription.