David Armstrong presents a collection of portraits of young men in his latest book, 615 Jefferson Avenue, named after his brownstone building in the Brooklyn, NY neighbourhood of Bed-Stuy. Boyd, one of the models in the book, and also to whom the book is dedicated, describes Armstrong as “a bony-assed old queen" in the book's introduction. So it follows that page after page of the imagery is a celebration of pretty boys photographed prettily. Whether sitting effeminately in tutus and top hats, or lying in a semi-undressed state in bed, glowing with natural light, the men and boys on display are Armstrong's treasure chest of desire. At first look, the photos may appear to be the evidence of notches on the bed-post for his dress-up lair of seduction. Yet, as is highlighted in the accompanying text dialogue between Armstrong and fellow photographer Ryan McGinley, portraiture is often deceptively intimate. The depth of the work is revealed in the loneliness of the portrait photographer, and as Armstrong says, “In the end, it's like a souvenir of something that did not happen." The intimacy shown is a painful distance, made all the clearer for the serious and sometimes melancholic expressions of the subjects.
615 Jefferson Avenue is available from Damiani editore.