Jackpot is Kevin Landers 17 year retrospective and it is coming out at a time when the photo world is just now paying their due respects to this newly discovered artist. Published by MTV Press (that’s right… the company that was once dedicated to music) Jackpot displays a gritty, humorous and very real portrait of New York City, a completely unique view on a city that has been the inspiration for so many great street photographers and creative minds. Landers’ color images certainly hold credit to some of his predecessors such as Eggleston and Shore, but this book is different than what has been offered before and I get the feeling that Landers may never have been paying all that much attention to what any one else was doing in this vein of contemporary photography. Of course, I could be dead wrong, but when something new strikes you the way this book does, sometimes you just have to let go of photography’s overbearing past.
Landers’ photographs are sometimes studio shot still-lifes of found objects on the street (including change cups the artist would be gifted from the local homeless population). It is curious to paint a portrait of a city’s by highlighting the objects and ultimately the people that it disregards. Dirty old change cups are not the only still-lifes presented, there are also plastic bags entangled on tree limbs, cardboard boxes used for sidewalk gambling attractions and windshield squeegees I assume were used by the same crowd Landers’ collected the change cups from (he did give out new cups as replacements). There are also a number of great street shots. Buses, laundromats, great window shopping deals and even a wandering chicken make it into the pages of this book. There are even a few portraits that mix in seamlessly with the abundance of objects and sidewalk bustle that exists throughout the entire book. After spending some well deserved time with Landers’ monograph I am truly amazed at the life he has captured with this well edited series of inanimate objects and indifferent passersby.