I get mad at New York sometimes. Mostly because it’s not the same place I moved here for. That was 1997. In my mind I was getting The Warriors NYC, and not Giuliani’s Disney circus. Mike can tell you, I’m a jaded New Yorker—I’ve seen the Chelsea Hotel lose its soul, CBGB’s close down, and Coney Island become the land of Fischer Price toys. But I’ve also been privy to amazing underground parties and met amazing groups of artists and performers that inspire me on a daily basis. Whether I want to admit it or not, this city has ingrained itself into me. And every once in a while you can find a place that has managed to stay true to its spirit. The Elk Hotel is one of those places, located in Times Square, one of the last of the hourly hotels in NYC. The paintings are screwed into the walls (literally through the paintings, which were upside down in our room), the mattresses come with one sheet, and many a couple have carved their names into the bedpost. Mike checked the mattress for bedbugs before we even put our things down. The Elk Hotel is a “nice” place for couples meeting by the hour. Clearly it was the perfect setting for Lie & Indite.
Photo from 14 to 42
We met up with Balthazar and Sonia in front of the hotel on a Saturday. I was late, Mike was later, caught in a Duane Reade buying markers and rubbing alcohol. When we went inside, the men running the front desk refused to rent one room to all four of us. We had to rent two rooms—each for two people. I still think we got swindled but that day I wasn’t in the mood to fight. We rented two rooms for two hours, using the one with the best light and most space. We set up the equipment, I stripped down and Mike started writing…
Photo by Balthazar
This week we become pixels.
Photos by Balthazar
Part of this experience is the New York experience. Going to sleazy motels, having limited time, the wrong markers, and making art.
We create the world we live in. We create ourselves.
I took an impromptu trip to Paris for 5 nights last week, to see two old friends, one who was very glad I was coming (he’s from Detroit; we met there), and one who probably didn’t expect or explicitly want to see me, but nevertheless agreed to.
(Photo by Balthazar)
I grew up moving every few months or years, so it’s almost a necessity for me to get out of the country, and especially out of New York, every once in a while. I get really caught up in living here. On the other hand, I always find myself being relieved when I see the New York skyline after an absence, and despite what I thought would happen, returning from Paris was no different.
(Photo by Balthazar)
We’re beginning to approach the end of the first round of Lie & Indite shoots, and despite what I thought this project would mean to me, and to everyone I’ve talked to since it’s gone up, I think L&I has among other things undoubtedly become a tribute from two non-NYC natives to the kind of city that would spur someone to say “I want you to write poems all over me for a photo shoot” to a relatively new friend (read: almost stranger) and think that’s reasonable way to spend a Sunday.
I logged in from the hotel lobby late last Monday night (Paris time) to see that Katelan had left a draft for me to look over—one more reminder to enjoy myself where I was, and to come back ready to work, which is what, I think, both of us came here to do.
Photo by Veronika von Volkova
A few months back I emailed Mike telling him I wouldn’t be doing anymore fully nude modeling. That was a semi-lie as I have one more shoot coming up in October, but it was one that was promised many moons ago. I felt like that aspect of my life was over and it was time to start a new path.
“So what does that mean for Lie & Indite?” He asked me.
“We can still do it, we just have to be more creative.”
“I can deal with that. It makes it more interesting.”
A few weeks later I was a bit restless and wanted a photographer for an impromptu shoot in a secret garden. I had been talking with Canadian photographer and friend Veronika von Volkova about Lie & Indite for a few days and she messaged me right away.
“Oh I’d love to shoot this. Just out of curiosity I’m going to check train tickets.”
Two minutes later she had messaged me again. Tickets were cheap and she was willing to come. “Book it!” I wrote. A few days later she was at my house.
I had no plan for this shoot. All I knew is that I wanted to shoot it in the secret garden. Veronika and I woke up that morning, threw a bunch of random things into various bags and headed over to the garden. I had another shoot planned before Lie & Indite. Another impromptu shoot, that one Gypsy inspired. We took over the garden and began. We did six photo shoots in one day. I was covered in mulberries, dirt, and ink by the end of it.
This shoot is different from the last, as each one after this will be as well. We’ve also decided to write a little less for these posts so that you can enjoy the art more. This project has turned out to be more than just words on flesh, it’s also become a love letter of sorts to New York City, a place I have called home now for fourteen years. Mike and I were interviewed by my good friends at Eight Cuts about it. You can read the interview here. And now we bring you round two: Von Volkova.
x to the o,
Photo by Veronika von Volkova