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books/catalogs, photography, pop
Published in conjunction with the exhibition at These Days LA. The Last Survivor is the First Suspect is at once a celebration and a requiem. The project, captured between 2005 and 2009 by photographer Nick Haymes, is a record of a drifting community of young friends based mainly between two distinct geographic points: Southern California and Tulsa, Oklahoma. The book’s narrative merges a sense of joy in documenting burgeoning friendships and bonds, and a looming sense of dread that would ultimately culminate in a series of tragedies.
Weaving throughout Haymes intimate photographs are a series of digital screenshots which Haymes has identified as key to this moment in time, which offer the viewer a secondary narrative of engagement. Social media was still relatively young and Haymes became acutely aware of a new nodal sense of communication between these distinct groups of friends. Platforms such as MySpace, YouTube and online message boards engendered a sense of community by enabling connection, while also setting new and impossible standards and expectations. Diligently collected, these various forms of communication between the characters frame a foreboding.
In Haymes’ own introduction to the book he accounts how his camera allowed him to compensate for a sense of crippling shyness developed during his teenage years. ’I picked up a camera and hid, discovering I could once again be near people, intimate with them, without having to engage,’ he writes. To create this exhibition and publication, the artist has returned to a body of pictures, piecing together what happened to these people for himself. Here, Haymes invites us to form a contemporary engagement with this specific historic moment, where things are both different and the same in equal measure. L.P. Hartley famously opened his coming of age opus The Go-Between ’The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.’ The Last Survivor is the First Suspect shows this sentiment with remarkable clarity.
Nick Haymes is a visual artist and photographer born in Stratford Upon Avon (UK), living and working in Los Angeles. Haymes studied fine art, but dropped out in his second year; using a fake ID under a friend’s name he subsequently studied photography at SVA and ICP. In 2010 Haymes started Little Big Man books and gallery. - These Days LA
“I was always aware that I liked people. That I loved people. School was about cliques, but I bounced between them all. Everyone, anyone, was fascinating to me. Each person nuanced in their own way, with something special to share — and for some reason, they all shared with me. I had low-grade Williams syndrome, and I liked school, my art teacher, and girls. Every day, for six of my teenage years, I obsessively walked to school with one girl, while she slept with everyone but me. Despite being someone who was friends with everyone, I lacked confidence. So I took drugs. Stopped writing. Stopped walking to school with her. Stopped going to school. And found friends who really mattered to me. Three years later, when I realised I was adopted, my brain imploded — and while I sweated it out in rehab and dealt with paranoid psychosis, no one came to visit. The will to write and draw had been sucked out of me, and I couldn’t overcome a newfound shyness, an awkwardness, that continues to live with me today. So I picked up a camera and hid, discovering I could once again be near people, intimate with them, without having to engage. It was a new way to be social yet silent, to love and be distant. A barrier that gave me access to others, while I dealt with my own emotional trauma. It worked — and still works.
Out of stock
Anton Stankowski – Frei und Angewandt, Free and Applied (1925 – 1995)
Ernst & Sohn