Photographer Sarah Piantadosi explores lust, narcissism and the four-thousand miles between the fleeting relationship of two people at the forefront of their city’s subcultures; New York-based performance artist Emil Bognar-Nasdor and London-based writer and publisher Reba Maybury, in her new zine The City is Abstract.
Dissecting the title of the zine – inspired by a quote Kathy Acker’s book Don Quixote – Piantadosi tells us she was “thinking about how Emil and Reba are strong creative forces in their respective cities,” adding, “Cities used to have their own distinctive character. Maybe that is less so now that big business has homogenised cities, and the internet has created access to subcultures that were previously inaccessible. So the question is, is the psychological concept of a city now abstract? And if so, how does this apply to creative and sexual partnerships?”
Shifting from fantasy to reality, The City is Abstract for Piantadosi is, “about the artists as separate unique entities, tied to their cities of origin. And secondly, as a relationship between two artists that did not end well. The images are very personal to them and it’s been difficult to put this project together in a way that I feel does justice to them both.”
Maybury met Bognar-Nasdor when she went to interview him, however it never happened, confessing they spent the night having sex instead. Driven by lust, their relationship was fleeting: “We would sporadically send each other intense emails about our feelings and would sleep together when we were in each other’s cities,” she reveals.
Whereas, Piantadosi’s previous zine Milk Jagger was about the construction of an alter-ego, The City Is Abstract was spontaneous. “It happened very last minute a few hours before he (Emil) was set to play a show. Reba and him were seeing each other at the time so she came down to the studio to hang out, though she spontaneously decided she wanted to be part of the pictures, and jumped in the frame. I know Reba well and greatly admire her fearless approach to her work.” Did she think the zine would have turned out differently if it had of been planned? “There’s a pureness in the spontaneous moment that is so different from what happens when you plan a shoot. Working in fashion we plan things out. We plan, we plan, we plan... It’s refreshing and exciting for me to make pictures in a spontaneous way which is virtually impossible in the fashion world.”
Maybury agrees, “Impulse was important because we were never in each other's company for prolonged periods of time, which heightens our dynamic on a visceral and emotional level. These photos express the romantic confusion and sexual adrenaline of our situation. Never grounded, it was always uncertain, carnal and, ultimately, it’s conclusion was savage in its dishonesty.”
The City Is Abstract is a limited edition of 250 copies, art directed by Jamie Andrew Reid, and launches tonight at Ditto Press, from 7pm–9pm. More info
As published on Dazed Digital