Vice Photo Issue 2019

2019

Issue

Photo

The

Our annual photo issue has always been a favorite—a production cycle when we get to spend the majority of our days poring over countless images by some of our favorite artists. Over the years we’ve tackled a variety of themes: from last year’s Privacy and Perception Issue, which traced how privacy, sexuality, intimacy, and gender play out online, to our Idols Issue, which created a unique conversation about the line of influence between younger photographers and their peers, to our collaborative issue with the renowned collective Magnum Photos, which paid tribute to work at the crossroads of photojournalism and art.

For our 18th photo issue we wanted to celebrate the absurd, the lighthearted, and the humorous. It’s important to take a break from the real world. When we spend so much of our days staring at our phones, reacting to whatever is the latest thing in our feed, we forget how to wonder, how to be creative, sometimes how to have fun. As much as we need to be informed, engaged, and aware, we also need to laugh. We wanted to champion the people making art with a sense of humor. In today’s climate, there’s something nicely subversive about that.

Read More From Our Editor-in-Chief

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KYLE
Berger

Izumi
Miyazaki

Cindy
Sherman

Lauren Servideo
& LulA Hyers

Matt
Grubb

Jessica Pettway

Michael
Northrup

Jason Fulford

Jaimie
Warren

Jill Freedman

Jerry
Hsu

TOdd
Midler

Martin
Parr

Sandy
Honig

Jorge
Garcia

Alex Lysakowski

Lazy
Mom

Jamie Lee Curtis TaetE

Arvida ByströM

Sheida Soleimani

Chase
MIddleton

Darin
Mickey

Toilet
Paper

April Dawn Alison

Thomas
Mailaender

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As much as we need to be informed, engaged, and aware, we also need to laugh. This year’s photo issue champions the people making art with a sense of humor.

See it as your own personal reset button.

Our annual photo issue has always been a favorite—a production cycle when we get to spend the majority of our days poring over countless images by some of our favorite artists. Over the years we’ve tackled a variety of themes: from last year’s Privacy and Perception Issue, which traced how privacy, sexuality, intimacy, and gender play out online, to our Idols Issue, which created a unique conversation about the line of influence between younger photographers and their peers, to our collaborative issue with the renowned collective Magnum Photos, which paid tribute to work at the crossroads of photojournalism and art.

For our 18th photo issue we wanted to celebrate the absurd, the lighthearted, and the humorous. It’s important to take a break from the real world. When we spend so much of our days staring at our phones, reacting to whatever is the latest thing in our feed, we forget how to wonder, how to be creative, sometimes how to have fun. As much as we need to be informed, engaged, and aware, we also need to laugh. We wanted to champion the people making art with a sense of humor. In today’s climate, there’s something nicely subversive about that.

Though the artists featured here may have differing approaches and styles, the works they submitted harness the same playfulness that’s at the heart of this issue’s theme. Take Lauren Servideo, a comedian whose character-driven videos on Instagram have amassed a cult following. For this issue she channeled Anubis—a fun-loving vampire living in LA who loves to gossip and shop—and she posed for a splashy resort-wear fashion shoot shot by the up-and-coming photographer Lula Hyers. Then there’s Matt Grubb, a Brooklyn-based artist with an MFA from Yale, who shared a series of self-portraits that he describes as existing “on the knife edge between fantasy and reality that most queer people have to navigate to feel at home in their bodies. If I was beautiful that day, how could I make myself even more so? And if I was ugly, let’s all see how deep that ugliness could become.” Alex Lysakowski’s body of work takes everyday structures set in mundane settings and manipulates and exaggerates them to the extreme, creating “a surreal world of absurdity.” We also feature a selection of images from the book April Dawn Alison. Beginning in the 70s and spanning 30 years, the self-portraits capture the many looks of April Dawn Alison, the feminine persona of a California-based photographer who lived in the world as a man. Erin O’Toole, an associate curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art who wrote an essay to accompany the book, says Alison’s photos “reveal a rich inner life filled with as much humor as pathos, as much joy as loneliness.”

Our cover images, of course, had to honor the wacky and nonsensical: Todd Midler, a recent art school graduate, created a portrait (and larger body of work) inspired by his obsessive love/hate relationship with his favorite basketball team: the New York Knicks, a group of lovable losers who haven’t won a championship since 1973. (As Midler says, calling them “mediocre would be a compliment.”) And we have Italian pranksters Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari, the duo behind the glossy biannual Toiletpaper magazine, to thank for our second cover, which, inexplicably, features a beachside knight in head-to-toe armor posing with a semi-peeled banana—hey, why not?

The completed issue feels like our own personal reset button. We hope it can be the same for you.

—Ellis Jones

Editor-in-Chief

Photo by Toiletpaper

Photo by Todd Midler

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These Playful Photos Capture the Ridiculousness of Everyday Life

KYLE
Berger

KYLE
Berger

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Toronto-based photographer Kyle Berger has a talent for perfectly documenting little moments of hilarity in his life.

We came across Berger’s work in the early stages of assembling this year’s photo issue and knew immediately we needed to include it. Like other photographers featured in the issue, he has a knack for capturing the absurdity of everyday life: like the moment a raccoon has been caught scavenging for food in a trashcan or when a dog is taking a shit against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset or when a teen with spiky hair walks past a row of plants that perfectly mimics his hairstyle. Berger says his work “directly stems from my time and place in the world, and where and when I was raised. I am infatuated with consumer culture and contemporary content ingestion. We seem to be slipping into a ‘post truth’ timeline, and I want my work to be a light-hearted, tongue in cheek assessment of the reality of skepticism, or the personal bias of ‘seeing is believing,’ while existing in a universe marked by capitalism and absurdity.”

Born in 1991 and raised, in his words, “under the soft glow of spinning strip mall signs in the swelling suburbs of Western Canadian prairies,” photographer Kyle Berger spent many a summer night riding his bike around Wal-Mart parking lots and “vaporizing McDonalds milkshakes with house-made explosives.” His focus then shifted to more academic pursuits, specifically cultural studies at the University of Calgary and photography at the Alberta College of Art and Design before settling in Toronto.

Colorful Photos of Surreal Pimple Pops

Izumi
miyazaki

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Bringing the bizarre to an intimate (and slightly gross) level, Izumi Miyazaki reimagines chin extractions in the form of flying caviar and oozing ketchup and mustard.

Miyazaki has gone on to create mind-bending selfies for publications and several gallery shows, including Wild Project Gallery in Luxembourg and Art-U room in Tokyo. For this issue, she produced two new photographs that poke fun at the art of the pimple pop. Bringing the bizarre to an intimate (and slightly gross) level, she reimagines chin extractions in the form of flying caviar and oozing ketchup and mustard.

Twenty-five-year-old Japanese photographer Izumi Miyazaki is no stranger to playful imagery. When asked about the inspiration behind her images, she cites the work of surrealist artists like Michel Gondry and René Magritte. This comes as no surprise when you consider the photos she submitted for our 2016 Photo Issue—in one, french fries fall from the sky as a trail of ketchup drips out of her eyes, in another, she holds a cheerleader pose while standing atop a mountain of rice.

Izumi
miyazaki

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Revisiting Colorful Images from Cindy Sherman’s Clown Archive

Cindy
Sherman

Cindy
SHerman

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For our annual photo issue, Cindy Sherman, the shape-shifting artist, shares two images from her archives.

There’s almost no need to introduce the indelible artist Cindy Sherman. Over the course of several decades she’s transformed herself into a seemingly endless list of characters and personas. Since this was our first humor-focused photo issue, we knew we had to include her. More specifically, we knew we had to include images from Sherman’s ‘Clowns’ series, which she created between 2003-2004. The expansive series explored what’s behind the painted face—one that can elicit so much joy and fear. Featured alongside some of our other shape-shifting photographers in the issue, we thought her images were a perfect fit.

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #419, 2004. Chromogenic color print. 65.5 x 48.25 inches, 166.4 x 122.6 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York.

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #447, 2005. Chromogenic color print. 48 x 72 inches, 121.9 x 182.9 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York.

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Ridiculous Photos of a Fun-Loving Vampire in Resort-Wear Photoshoot

LAUREN SERVIDEO
&
LULA HYERS

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Lauren Servideo, a comedic Instagram icon, makes relatable, lovable, and cringeworthy character-driven videos for Instagram. We caught up with her about her characters, her daily routine, and more.

VICE: Walk us through your typical day.
Lauren Servideo: Open my eyes, don’t stretch, don’t take my time getting ready, walk to work, spend six to eight hours glued to my ergonomic desk chair, walk home, take a breather, and then go back outside and wander around until it gets dark. My boyfriend has one of those digital pianos with several kinds of rhythms and noises and I’ve taken to playing roulette with the different demo sounds and just banging away at those freaking ivory keys, baby! It feels very purgative at the end of a long day even though I absolutely do not know how to read sheet music.

When did you start making videos? Was Instagram your first platform, or are we talking OG photobooth?
I started making videos in the early 2000s on the family computer. Instagram is the only platform I use now.

Are there any characters since our last interview that you’ve been excited to develop? What’s that process like for you?
She’s been around the block, but I absolutely love doing Victoria. Part of that process involves studying videos of people who vacationed on the Jersey shore in the 90s and 2000s (but not the Jersey Shore). I’d love to see where I can take my Brandy Melville manager character too. Some people have told me that it is “so brave” of me to show my pale, flabby stomach like that, which absolutely dilutes the real definition of bravery or courage for people who, you know, run into burning buildings. We all have different benchmarks, I guess.

I feel like Anubis has resonated deeply with a lot of your audience, why do you think that is? Are there parallels in the personality you developed for her and yourself?
Thank you for saying that! Sheesh, I’m not sure. Maybe the same reason people get a kick out of watching Chris Lilley do Ja’mie in Summer Heights High? Let me be clear, however: I would never deign to say that I have even a quarter of the talent he has—just that our fan base has the same sense of humor! It’s someone you know but something is just… slightly off.

If Anubis could style herself, what do you think she’d rock outside of her crisp white shirt?
Imagine Anubis in all Ed Hardy? I was at Beacon’s closet and one of the buyers was wearing head-to-toe Ed Hardy/Affliction gear and I thought of how bananas that would look on Anubis. Jersey bro regalia forever!

Being someone who brings a lot of joy to people through comedy, what’s currently making you laugh?
Rachel Sennott’s Twitter and Youtube channel and Conner O’Malley’s series on Howard Schultz. TV-wise, I loved Pen15 and The Other Two.

What’s next for Anubis and the world of Lauren Servideo?
Hopefully something longer on a larger screen! I think Anubis showing up to a movie premiere in an archive Mugler couture could turn some heads. I am grateful that I even get to consider that there will be a next for me.

LAUREN SERVIDEO
&
LULA HYERS

Lauren Servideo is quickly becoming a comedic Instagram icon with her relatable, loveable, and cringe worthy set of character-driven videos she’s developed natively on the platform. She also happens to work there, which makes her keenly aware of the influencer culture she’s parodying. Earlier this year, we did a deep dive into her various personas and felt a particular attachment to Anubis, a fun-loving vampire who lives in LA and loves to gossip and shop. So when we began scheming for this year’s photo issue we knew we wanted to include her in some way. The final idea—Anubis posing for a resort-wear fashion shoot—was executed by photographer Lula Hyers. Born and raised in New York, Hyers tells us that she’s heavily influenced by her hometown and when it comes to photography, she often finds herself experimenting with what it means to capture someone’s essence and vulnerability.

The final result of their collaboration is bright, beachy, and hilarious. We caught up with Servideo about her characters, how she got her start, and what’s next for Anubis.

LAUREN SERVIDEO & LULA HYERS

LAUREN SERVIDEO &
LULA HYERS

The final result of their collaboration is bright, beachy, and hilarious. We caught up with Servideo about her characters, how she got her start, and what’s next for Anubis.

Being someone who brings a lot of joy to people through comedy, what’s currently making you laugh?
Rachel Sennott’s Twitter and Youtube channel and Conner O’Malley’s series on Howard Schultz. TV-wise, I loved Pen15 and The Other Two.

What’s next for Anubis and the world of Lauren Servideo?
Hopefully something longer on a larger screen! I think Anubis showing up to a movie premiere in an archive Mugler couture could turn some heads. I am grateful that I even get to consider that there will be a next for me.

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These Self-Portraits Exist on the Edge Between Fantasy and Reality

MATT GRUBB

MATT GRUBB

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For our annual photo issue, Matt Grubb shares transformative self-portraits that exist beyond the gender binary.

Matt Grubb is a Brooklyn-based artist with roots in San Francisco and an MFA from Yale. Most of his work is focused on the conceptual—constructions, recreations, or manipulations—but for this issue, he shared a series of self-portraits that he made between 2017 and 2018. What started as an extension of a makeup hobby, over time became less about traditional ideas of drag glamour or beauty and more about transformations of all kinds. Each image typically begins with a vague concept, like the use of a Nintendo or a translucent facemask, and takes around three to six hours to complete. Grubb told us he tries to avoid anything which could be read as specifically gendered. The images are, in his words, “made in the middle ground between unreal confidence and complete self obliteration; the soft glow of a Keeping Up With The Kardashians interview and that one harsh fluorescent subway light. In other words, they exist on the knife-edge between fantasy and reality that most queer people have to navigate to feel at home in their bodies. If I was beautiful that day, how could I make myself even more so? And if I was ugly, let’s all see how deep that ugliness could become.”

Matt Grubb is a Brooklyn-based artist with roots in San Francisco and an MFA from Yale. Most of his work is focused on the conceptual—constructions, recreations, or manipulations—but for this issue, he shared a series of self-portraits that he made between 2017 and 2018. What started as an extension of a makeup hobby, over time became less about traditional ideas of drag glamour or beauty and more about transformations of all kinds.

Each image typically begins with a vague concept, like the use of a Nintendo or a translucent facemask, and takes around three to six hours to complete. Grubb told us he tries to avoid anything which could be read as specifically gendered. The images are, in his words, “made in the middle ground between unreal confidence and complete self obliteration; the soft glow of a Keeping Up With The Kardashians interview and that one harsh fluorescent subway light. In other words, they exist on the knife-edge between fantasy and reality that most queer people have to navigate to feel at home in their bodies. If I was beautiful that day, how could I make myself even more so? And if I was ugly, let’s all see how deep that ugliness could become.”

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This Photographer’s Images Make Up the Best Family Photo Album We’ve Ever Seen

MICHAEL
NORTHRUP

MICHAEL
NORTHRUP

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Michael Northrup has been documenting his life—and that of his friends and family—through funny snapshots for nearly four decades. For this year’s photo issue he shared some images from his extensive archive.

Michael Northrup received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1980 and prior to that a BFA from Ohio University. Between his degrees, he lived primarily on the West Coast, where he studied with photographers Jack Welpott and Judy Dater, and also spent time in Prescott, Arizona, learning from Frederick Sommer. He then taught for ten years before moving to Baltimore, where he now shoots commercially. His art has been shown and published internationally.

We first featured Northrup’s work in our 2012 photo issue and then again in 2017 in our Looking Glass Issue, which he also shot the cover for. He’s been documenting his life—and that of his friends and family, who are a huge part of his work—through funny snapshots since the early 70s. As Northrup explained to us, “I love irony… not exclusively, but I have a special appreciation for it. And it underlies a lot of my work. I must have been especially influenced by my mother who would laugh at news stories like, ‘Santa loses fingers while stepping off helicopter to wave at kids.’ During the 50s my older brother told me that all the science fiction and horror movies we were seeing were documentaries. And my dad, being a doctor, surgeon, and coroner, would bring humor to the dinner table on things like bowel obstructions and suicides. My whole family was great at extracting humor out of tragedy and that has given me a way of ‘seeing.’ For me, creating images is all about my daily life, those meaningful pictures I’m able to extract from it, and the personal photographic vision I bring to those visual narratives.”

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This DIY Artist Transforms into Haunted House Icons in This Hilarious Series

Jaimie
warren

Jaimie
warren

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Jaimie Warren has mastered the art of taking ridiculous self-portraits with costumes she makes herself. For this year’s photo issue she shares a new series with us.

Jaimie Warren is a multi-talented multidisciplinary artist and the co-director and creator of “Whoop Dee Doo,” a community arts project and fake public access TV show created in 2006. She’s also a NYFA Fellow in Interdisciplinary Arts, teaches art programming with NYC public schools (currently through Dia:Chelsea, BRIC, and Pioneer Works), is the recipient of the Baum Award for An Emerging American Photographer, and is a featured artist in ART21’s documentary series New York Close Up. (We told you she was multi-talented.)

Warren was first featured in VICE magazine way back in 2004 and then we just decided to keep featuring her until the end of time. Her self-portraits are at once hilarious, gross, intricate. And over the years she’s graced our pages dressed up as Pennywise the Clown, a nun, Yoda, ramen noodles, Karl Lagerfeld, Justin Timberlake, and more.

Warren was first featured in VICE magazine way back in 2004 and then we just decided to keep featuring her until the end of time. Her self-portraits are at once hilarious, gross, intricate. And over the years she’s graced our pages dressed up as Pennywise the Clown, a nun, Yoda, ramen noodles, Karl Lagerfeld, Justin Timberlake, and more.

Photos taken at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, NY. Images taken by Antonius-Tín Bui.

Self-portrait as a scary jacket, 2019

Self-portrait as a headless maid, 2019

Warren was first featured in VICE magazine way back in 2004 and then we just decided to keep featuring her until the end of time. Her self-portraits are at once hilarious, gross, intricate. And over the years she’s graced our pages dressed up as Pennywise the Clown, a nun, Yoda, ramen noodles, Karl Lagerfeld, Justin Timberlake, and more.

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Iconic Street Photographer Jill Freedman Captures Joy In In-Between Moments

Jill
Freedman

Jill
Freedman

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For our annual photo issue, legendary street photographer Jill Freedman shares a collection of funny classics from her archive.

Jill Freedman, a widely respected New York-based documentary photographer, likes the ambiguity in presenting her images without context. But she did agree to give us the back-story on one of the pictures she submitted for this year’s photo issue. In the image, an older woman in glasses sits in the back of a cop car, hands clasped together almost as if in prayer, as she stares out the window with a look of quiet desperation on her face. The photo was taken around 1979, shortly after Freedman had spent a lot of time among policemen for her book Street Cops. She says her mom never really understood Freedman’s devotion to pictures and the vocation it made for her, but she was a good sport during a visit to New York when the two ran into some police officers Freedman knew along Fifth Avenue. Soon after, Selma found herself in the back of the car pretending to plead to be set free. In that moment, everyone involved thought it was hilarious, but at its root the image pinpointed real tension in the two women’s relationship. When asked what the first thing was that Freedman and her mother said to each other as they walked away from the car, Freedman says it was probably right back to her mom asking, “So when are you gonna grow up?”

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Dive into a Decade of Absurd Photos Shot on Low-Quality Cellphones

Jerry
Hsu

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Jerry
Hsu

Jerry Hsu’s upcoming photobook, ‘The Beautiful Flower Is the World,’ features hilarious images shot on BlackBerry smartphones.

Photographer and professional skateboarder Jerry Hsu is no stranger to the VICE photo issue, having appeared it in regularly over the years. His work, which has also been featured in the New York Times Magazine and exhibited around the world, captures the everyday absurdities of life—a single log with the word “FREE” spray painted on it, a pair of jeans labeled “Daddy’$ Money,” a billboard with the words “SYPHILIS EXPLOSION” set against a backdrop of an erupting volcano.

The images featured in this year’s photo issue are from Hsu’s second photo book The Beautiful Flower Is the World, which is being published by Anthology Editions and comes out later this month. The series began in 2007 and uses a variety of BlackBerry smartphones. Hsu says the work “revolves around using poor-quality cellphone images to communicate with other artists and friends. The title comes directly from an image of a T-shirt made in China of an English phrase degraded through mistranslation. We find humor in that accidental, small tragedy and feel compelled to share it. The series explores the compulsion to collect those everyday moments, combined with the technology that allows for its instant digital distribution.”

Jerry Hsu’s second book, The Beautiful Flower Is the World, is out now from Anthology Editions

The images featured in this year’s photo issue are from Hsu’s second photo book The Beautiful Flower Is the World, which is being published by Anthology Editions and comes out later this month. The series began in 2007 and uses a variety of BlackBerry smartphones. Hsu says the work “revolves around using poor-quality cellphone images to communicate with other artists and friends. The title comes directly from an image of a T-shirt made in China of an English phrase degraded through mistranslation. We find humor in that accidental, small tragedy and feel compelled to share it. The series explores the compulsion to collect those everyday moments, combined with the technology that allows for its instant digital distribution.”

Jerry Hsu’s second book, The Beautiful Flower Is the World, is out now from Anthology Editions

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This Photographer Really Hates Himself for Loving the Knicks

Todd
Midler

Todd
Midler

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‘Madison Square Garbage,’ a series by Todd Midler that’s featured in our upcoming photo issue, is a fabricated photographic archive of a basketball fan.

Todd Midler is a New York City-based photographer whose work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times and the New Yorker. Seeing as he just received his BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts last year, we’d say he’s doing a pretty good job so far.

He tells us his most loved things are photography, basketball, and photography about basketball. This all started to make sense once we flipped through the images he submitted for this year’s photo issue, one of which became our cover.

Midler’s series was inspired by his obsessive love/hate relationship with his favorite American basketball team: the New York Knicks. We caught up with him about his career, his cover photo, and his love of basketball.

VICE: Tell us the story behind our cover image.
Todd Midler: I became obsessed with basketball fan culture. I decided to study the viewers of the game rather than the players. I was very interested in the different ways that fans expressed their loyalty to their favorite teams. Some showed love, obsession, and devotion while others showed pessimism and hopelessness. I wanted to create an image that blended all these ideas together: a super fan who is devoted enough to get their face painted like a basketball, but looks equally disinterested in what they are viewing. Although the image is of my friend Nick, I thoroughly empathize with the man in the photo. It’s basically a self-portrait: The man who got all dressed up—face paint and everything—only to watch his Knicks lose to the Cavs by 24 points.

For the basketball headshot—did you know what kind of facial expression you wanted?
I had a vision. Obviously there were some tweaks here and there but I feel like the image that I came out of that shoot with is exactly what I envisioned it would be.

Your portfolio was inspired by your love/hate relationship with the New York Knicks. When and how did you first become a fan of the team?
My father is the reason why I’m a Knicks fan. As a child, I used to wear his jerseys around the house and pretend I was on the team. My Dad had Knicks season tickets sometime in the 90s. I’d imagine he gave them up when I was born in 1995. To this day, I’m convinced that if I was born in 1994 and somehow my mom allowed my dad to bring their six-month-old baby to Game 6 of the NBA finals, the Knicks would’ve won the Championship that year and all would be good and well in the world of the Knicks. Oh well. I still love them, even if they haven’t won a championship since 1973. That’s my team.

Your work focuses on still life images—can you walk us through the portfolio? It seems to be a mix of your own archival, like letters and childhood drawings, mixed with more conceptual photos.
With this specific body of work, “Madison Square Garbage,” I wanted to focus on creating very specific images. It was my first body of work where I jotted down different ideas for pictures and even created a detailed shot list. Before that, I was very much a find-an-image-in-the-world-type of photographer. With this project, I drew pictures my eight-year-old self would draw. I used old picture frames that looked like the ones my mom made when I was a child. I appropriated imagery from the internet, all with the intention of creating specific images. The project was meant to be a fabricated photographic archive of a basketball fan.

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This Street Photographer Finds Perfect, Spontaneous Moments on NYC’s Sidewalks

jorge
Garcia

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Jorge Garcia, founder of the NYC Street Photography Collective, says that funny photos are the most challenging to find, but also the most rewarding.

Jorge Garcia is a Queens-based 35-year-old photographer. In 2015, he created the NYC Street Photography Collective to provide an educational space for people to hone their skills and exhibit their images. The collective, which now includes 22 members, regularly releases zines and organizes events to highlight their members’ work.

Garcia tells us he spends the majority of his time walking up and down the sidewalks of Manhattan (fueled by ramen and donuts) looking to capture life’s spontaneous moments—like when a zombie in a top hat is following NYC’s finest or when a little girl decides to jump into an empty newsstand. “Funny photos are definitely the most challenging to see when walking around, but also the most rewarding,” Garcia says. “I like how these moments are humorous in subtle ways.”

Jorge
Garcia

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alex lysakowski

alex
lysakowski

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Ontario-based photographer Alex Lysakowski’s fantastical work explores industrial architecture, structural landscape, and photo manipulation.

Ontario-based photographer Alex Lysakowski’s fantastical work explores industrial architecture, structural landscape, and photo manipulation. By taking everyday structures set in ordinary settings and manipulating and exaggerating them to the extreme, he creates a tension between what’s real, what’s fake, and tests the boundaries of what’s architecturally possible.

For this year’s photo issue he shared images from his “Antistructure” series. In one image, the cargo space of a semi truck towers above its cab, twice as high as a telephone pole; in another, an ordinary roadside hotel is transformed with the addition of a winding S-shaped structure that juts out of the top of the building, a “hotel” sign placed at the top. As Lysakowski says, “The farcical nature of the manipulated structures creates a surreal world of absurdity in an otherwise mundane landscape.”

These Manipulated Landscapes Will Make You Do a Double Take

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These Colorful Photos Will Make You Want to Play With Your Food

lazy
mom

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Lazy Mom, a collaboration by artists Josie Keefe and Phyllis Ma, shares food-centric photography that is brilliantly confusing for this year’s photo issue.

Lazy Mom is a collaboration between New York-based artists Josie Keefe and Phyllis Ma. The moniker and the body of work they create is based on an imaginary mother who spends her time obsessive-compulsively arranging groceries instead of preparing meals for her family. Their work explores the simplicity and complexity of modern food, which can be anything from hot dog sculptures—like the one included in this year’s photo issue in which hot dogs impale a slice of pizza—to wiggling deli meat.

Their insanely colorful images are both enticing and disgusting at the same time. As Keefe and Ma explained to us, “One of the first rules we are taught in life is not to play with your food. Repressing this natural urge since childhood has left Lazy Mom frustrated and unsatisfied. She wants to touch, feel, squirt, and make all kinds of mess and now there’s no one to stop her. Dinner is ready, so take off your shoes and get ready for a wild ride.

lazy
mom

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This Photographer Is an Expert at Capturing Uncomfortable Moments and Visual Puns

Jamie lee curtis taete

jamie lee curtis taete

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Jamie Lee Curtis Taete’s work is often reminiscent of the photos you’d find on defunct image-hosting accounts, from gloriously depressing snapshots of Goth Day at Disneyland to sheepish fans at porn conventions.

Jamie Lee Curtis Taete is a writer and photographer from the UK who’s lived in Los Angeles for the last six years. He was a longtime employee of VICE and over the years we, obviously, published a bunch of his work, including photos of a boring visit to Kentucky’s Ark Encounter theme park, the superfans who spend thousands of dollars on escape rooms, and a beach party for former Scientologists, Mormons, and Hasidic Jews. Now freelance, Jamie has shot photos for other publications like the New York Times, BuzzFeed, and the Daily Mail among others. We’re so proud of him.

His work is often reminiscent of the photos you’d find on defunct image-hosting accounts, ie: gloriously depressing snapshots covering a range of topics like Goth Day at Disneyland to sheepish fans at porn conventions. He’s a master at capturing visual puns and uncomfortable moments in real life, and the couple of deep cuts from his archive that he submitted for this photo issue are full of them.

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This Photographer Turns Humans Into Real-Life Bratz Dolls

Arvida
bystrom

arvida
bystrom

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Photographer Arvida Byström and stylist Lo Hallen bring Bratz Dolls to life with this surreal fashion photo shoot.

The pastel-soaked work of Arvida Byström, a 27-year-old photographer based in Stockholm challenges viewers to think about objectification, how society treats femme bodies, and mental health in the digital world. Her images have graced the pages of publications like Wonderland, Garage, and Dazed. In 2017, Prestel Books released Pics or It Didn’t Happen, a shared monograph with artist Molly Soda featuring images that were banned from Instagram.

Byström has been a longtime contributor to VICE and when asked if she’d like to participate in this year’s photo issue she came back to us with an idea surrounding the recent popularity of the #bratzchallenge, in which people recreate the makeup and look of Bratz dolls and post the results online. Byström, along with stylist Lo Hallen, told us that in making this portfolio they knew they wanted it to be a “celebration of all the amazing artists jumping on the trend while at the same time twisting it into a lonesome parody. It reflects on the solitariness often present in internet culture and the beautiful creations born out of it. For us, the Bratz dolls are obviously completely ridiculous—how can they even be allowed for kids?—but at the same time, they have some ridiculously cute outfits.”

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Dress by Emelie Janrell; shoes by Underground from Sko Uno; earrings by Charlott Vasberg

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Shirtdress and tights by Acne Studios; skirt by Dominka Skansen from C.U.M Clubwear; shoes by Demonia

Jacket and blouse by Emelie Janrell; pants by Acne Studios; earrings by Charlott Vasberg

Dress by Nhorm

Styling by Lo Hallén; makeup by Michel Franco and Sandra Magnusson; set design by Fredrik Sundberg Svartnäs; production by Fredrika Eriksson. Models: Gudfreja, Malin Efua, Alejandro Montero Bravo, and Christopher

Hat by Western Express from Sko Uno; Blouse Freja Wesik; Corset and skirt by Humana Second Hand

Dress by Freja Wesik

Byström has been a longtime contributor to VICE and when asked if she’d like to participate in this year’s photo issue she came back to us with an idea surrounding the recent popularity of the #bratzchallenge, in which people recreate the makeup and look of Bratz dolls and post the results online. Byström, along with stylist Lo Hallen, told us that in making this portfolio they knew they wanted it to be a “celebration of all the amazing artists jumping on the trend while at the same time twisting it into a lonesome parody. It reflects on the solitariness often present in internet culture and the beautiful creations born out of it. For us, the Bratz dolls are obviously completely ridiculous—how can they even be allowed for kids?—but at the same time, they have some ridiculously cute outfits.”

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Sheida Soleimani Combines Photography with Sculpture, Collage, and Film with Surprising Results

SHEIDA
SOLEIMANI

SHEIDA
SOLEIMANI

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In our annual photo issue, Sheida Soleimani shares new work inspired by Iran’s oil production.

Sheida Soleimani, an Iranian-American artist based in Providence, Rhode Island, combines photography with sculpture, collage, and film to highlight her critical perspectives on historical and contemporary socio-political occurrences. She is especially interested in the space where art and activism intersect and how social media shapes political affairs and uprisings across the world. Her work has been featured in exhibitions and publications such as Artforum, the New York Times, Huffington Post, Interview, and more.

There’s a kind of dark humor present in Soleimani’s work so we thought she’d be a perfect addition to this year’s humor-themed photo issue. She created a new image for us titled “Iran Heavy,” which is the name of a crude oil blend. Soleimani said the still life “represents objects made from crude oils—weights, bubblegum—along with a satellite image of Kharg Island in Iran, where this specific crude oil blend is exported from. The main export from that area, besides oil, is fish, and I thought having the fish blow a bubble would give it a cynical/humorous twist.” The photo is part of a new series she’s working on called “Crudes,” and the images featured here are a mix of photos from that series along with selects from her previous project “Medium of Exchange.”

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This Photographer Captures the Oddities of Small Town Life

Chase
Middleton

chase
middleton

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Chase Middleton’s photos, with their super rich color palette and overload of carpet, feel like they were plucked out of an obscure 80s film.

Australian photographer Chase Middleton received her MFA from Yale in 2019 and her BFA from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 2012. Her work has been exhibited across the globe, including at Red Hook Labs in New York, Base in Milan, and the National Portrait Gallery in Australia. She currently lives and works in New York City.

The staging of Middleton’s images—the way she brings out the oddities of small town living—is what first drew us to her work. Each photo, with its super rich color palette and overload of carpet, feels like it was plucked out of an obscure 80s film. The photos featured in this year’s photo issue are part of a body of work depicting a range of subjects, from ritualistic gatherings to encounters with strangers.

Middleton told us she uses “humor as a vehicle to enter into an unsettling world where the viewer is uncertain whether or not they are viewing a glimpse of an imagined afterlife, alternate reality, or if it is the simple recording of everyday banality. My work questions what it means to see something you’re not supposed to see and what happens when that becomes your obsession.”


The staging of Middleton’s images—the way she brings out the oddities of small town living—is what first drew us to her work. Each photo, with its super rich color palette and overload of carpet, feels like it was plucked out of an obscure 80s film. The photos featured in this year’s photo issue are part of a body of work depicting a range of subjects, from ritualistic gatherings to encounters with strangers.

Middleton told us she uses “humor as a vehicle to enter into an unsettling world where the viewer is uncertain whether or not they are viewing a glimpse of an imagined afterlife, alternate reality, or if it is the simple recording of everyday banality. My work questions what it means to see something you’re not supposed to see and what happens when that becomes your obsession.”

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Photos of Dated Furniture Signs Will Take You Back to A Different Time

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Darin Mickey’s photography captures humorous, mundane observations of everyday life. He shared some images from his archive for this year’s photo issue.

Darin Mickey is a New York-based photographer, musician, and author (including Death Takes a Holiday and Stuff I Gotta Remember Not To Forget, both published by J&L Books). His work has appeared in numerous publications including Aperture, the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post Magazine, i-D, FOAM, and Doubletake.

Mickey’s photography typically captures humorous, mundane observations of everyday life across a variety of topics, such as office culture and record shops (one such photo was featured on the cover of our 2017 Music Issue.)

When asked to explain the work he contributed for this issue, he said, “These photographs of pleasantly ridiculous signage were made during frequent trips back to the mid-west in the late 2000s. Now a decade later, the earnest directness of these messages—the spartan facades and the calming symmetry—spark tinges of nostalgia for a seemingly less insane time. A time when the furniture was intelligent and priced to sell, the seasonal decor resonated on a conceptual level just below the surface of perception, and temporary salvation could be found at the opposite end of a sunny parking lot.”

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DARIN MICKEY

DARIN MICKEY

Toiletpaper’s Photos Push the Boundaries of Absurdist Photography

TOILET
PAPER

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Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari, the duo behind the glossy biannual Toiletpaper magazine, share some new images and talk to us about bananas, inspiration, and humor.

It was a given that we’d ask Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari, the duo behind the glossy biannual Toiletpaper magazine, if they’d contribute new work to this year’s photo issue. They’ve mastered the art of creating images that are guaranteed to be absurd, humorous, colorful, and playful. We first featured them in the magazine in 2012 and haven’t stopped since. They’ve now been in three photo issues and produced four covers for us.

For this issue, they shared three delightfully strange images that appear in the next issue of Toiletpaper. One photo, which inexplicably features two knights in full armor posing with semi-peeled bananas, can be seen on our cover. We caught up with the duo on the inspiration behind their cover, bananas (in general), and what makes them laugh.

TOILET
PAPER

VICE: Your cover features a knight in head-to-toe armor posing with a banana. We have a lot of questions about this, but first—why the banana?
Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari: Bananas are important. As humans, they remind us of a lot of other things, and this uncanny and uncomfortable feeling to be in front of something that can also mean something else is the strategy behind every Toiletpaper picture. It is also a topos of modern and contemporary art—from Giorgio de Chirico’s 1913 canvas The Uncertainty of the Poet to Andy Warhol’s 1967 cover for the Velvet Underground & Nico’s debut album—many artists played with the peculiarities of its shape, politicizing it and carving out meanings in their own right.

What was the inspiration behind the shoot?
We wanted to pay homage to Natalia LL and her performance Consumer Art (which has recently been censored by the Polish government) and to all the protesters that showed up outside Warsaw’s National Museum, armed only with bananas. An additional confirmation, if needed, of the symbolic importance of this fruit.

A sense of humor and surprise has always been a large part of your work. Outside of the images you create, what makes you two laugh?
We are both fans of Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes.

Toiletpaper has taken on many different forms over the past few years, what are you two excited about next?
Never have expectation is the first rule to get the best from everything you do, and we stick to the rule, literally.

Will you ever have your own branded toilet paper?
Yes, we thought about it, but it would be too sad to flush it.

When Cattelan and Ferrari submitted their work to us, they included a short manifesto of sorts that is as baffling and entertaining as their photography. Check it out below:

TP Rules For Survival:

• Being Broke Is Hard, Becoming Rich Is Hard: Choose Your Hard
• Did I Need It? No. Did I Buy It? Yes.
• I’m Glad Morning Comes Once a Day
• Feeling Unspoken Are Unforgettable
• Anybody Can Be Cool But Awesome Takes Practice
• As Long as You Don’t Choose, Everything Remains Possible
• How Many Light Bulbs Does It Take to Change People?
• Everything Will Be OK So Choose Something Fun
• Wrong Time Wrong Place
• Yes We Cat

Being Broke Is Hard, Becoming Rich Is Hard: Choose Your Hard

Did I Need It? No. Did I Buy It? Yes.

I’m Glad Morning Comes Once a Day

Feeling Unspoken Are Unforgettable

Anybody Can Be Cool But Awesome Takes Practice

As Long as You Don’t Choose, Everything Remains Possible

How Many Light Bulbs Does It Take to Change People?

Everything Will Be OK So Choose Something Fun

Wrong Time Wrong Place

Yes We Cat

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Intimate Photos Capture a Photographer’s Feminine Persona

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For this year’s photo issue we’re thrilled to include images from the new book April Dawn Alison. The impressive self-portrait series begins in the 70s and spans 30 years.

For this year’s photo issue we were thrilled to be able to include images from the recently released book April Dawn Alison. Beginning in the 70s and spanning 30 years, the series of self-portraits captures the many looks of April Dawn Alison, the feminine persona of a California-based photographer who lived in the world as a man.

The book, published by MACK this month, features essays by writer and critic Hilton Als, artist and television producer Zackery Drucker, and Erin O’Toole, an associate curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. As O’Toole explains, Alison’s photos “reveal a rich inner life filled with as much humor as pathos, as much joy as loneliness. In them she embodies a wide range of female types drawn from advertising, motion pictures, and pornography. She moves effortlessly from Hollywood screen sirens in tight sweaters to frumpy aunties in high-necked blouses, from pin-up models in string bikinis to dishwashing housewives in rubber gloves, from efficient French maids in starched white aprons to docile BDSM submissives in bras and panties.”

April Dawn Alison, published by MACK, is out now.

April Dawn Alison, Untitled, n.d. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Gift of Andrew Masullo. Courtesy of SFMOMA and MACK.

April Dawn Alison, Untitled, n.d. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Gift of Andrew Masullo. Courtesy of SFMOMA and MACK.

April Dawn Alison, Untitled, n.d. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Gift of Andrew Masullo. Courtesy of SFMOMA and MACK.

April Dawn Alison

April Dawn Alison

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The book, published by MACK this month, features essays by writer and critic Hilton Als, artist and television producer Zackery Drucker, and Erin O’Toole, an associate curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. As O’Toole explains, Alison’s photos “reveal a rich inner life filled with as much humor as pathos, as much joy as loneliness. In them she embodies a wide range of female types drawn from advertising, motion pictures, and pornography. She moves effortlessly from Hollywood screen sirens in tight sweaters to frumpy aunties in high-necked blouses, from pin-up models in string bikinis to dishwashing housewives in rubber gloves, from efficient French maids in starched white aprons to docile BDSM submissives in bras and panties.”