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A Closer Look: Out to Lunch

Out to Lunch. Photographs by Ari Marcopoulos
Ari Marcopoulos is a photograper known for many things: his documents of his life surrounded by graffiti artists and skateboarders, his love of the Xerox as a means to produce zines and books and a no bullshit, no frills approach to his photography. His new limited edition book Out To Lunch is all that and more. The designers do not deny Marcopoulos' love for matte paper and have printed many of the plates on uncoated stock. The book is worth the cost with all its object elements: the matte pages, glossy contact sheets, vinyl stickers, and over-sized teen-magazine-like pullout posters. All this great content is wrapped in black gauze binders housed in a bag with comments, yearbook style, addressed to Ari on the outside. Two of the comments on the book on my desk read: "Ari, he burns bridges before he crosses them - Jeff" and "Ari tried to time stamp my balls - KEITH." Each book is unique and printed in an edition of 350 copies signed and numbered by Marcopoulos.

Out to Lunch. Photographs by Ari Marcopoulo

Included in the 256 matte B&W images and numerous high-gloss contact sheets are shots of street life: discarded cardboard boxes, damaged phone booths; abandoned buildings, scaffolding and construction sites. He includes cars, some abandoned and some not, and walls marked with black curved lines, the proof of its status as a favorite spot for skateboarders. New York, San Francisco and other unidentified cities around the world are the backdrop. The book also houses many portraits of famous people and/or Marcopoulos' personal relations, including a reproduced contact sheet of Basquiat taking a bath and one of Warhol dressed in drag. Mixed in are more famous faces: Dennis Hopper, Chuck D, Keith Haring, Robert Mapplethorpe, LL Cool J, Iggy Pop and various others that he encountered in skateboarding, surfing, graffiti, fashion and daily life. There is an odd sequence from 2012, as noted by the date stamp on the photos, that appears to be from a reenactment of a Soviet and German battle from WWII. And finally he sees graffiti everywhere: on a series on moving trucks, storage spaces, corrugated gates, sides of buildings. He is chronicler of tagging around the world.

Out to Lunch. Photographs by Ari Marcopoulo

Out to Lunch. Photographs by Ari Marcopoulo

The final element of the book is a script written by Marcopoulos and his son Cairo set in the outskirts of San Francisco. It shares the same name as the monograph Out to Lunch. The screenplay is a brief vignette about a few teens out for a night drive that happen to collide with a cow on the road. The screenplay is incomplete, as the last page reproduces a letter to Cairo from "your pops" talking about the parts that each will work on next. The LTC Remington Typewriter font and the numerous typos feel like the pages do not reproduce the original, but are the original: the artist sitting down with the typewriter and pounding away, spilling out the ideas, dialogue or scene as it appears in his mind. It plays out like a teen drama from the likes of Larry Clark or Harmony Korine and brings out some of those same feelings of distress, boredom, sexual tension and confusion that the aforementioned writers/directors are able to illicit.

Out to Lunch. Photographs by Ari Marcopoulo

The publisher, PPP Editions, chose to include Marcopoulos' early work in New York and work from the last few years. Marcopolous challenges the art aesthetic of photography and presents it as a tool for documentation of the quotidian. He marks each day; the proof of its existence in the photograph and often with the time stamp printed on the photo. His work is analogous with the tagging of the gangs or paintings of the street artists. His books are often as impermanent as the spray paint, printed on non-archival materials. This volume, likely the most comprehensive book on Marcopoulos totaling 368 pages, will last for years, but in its construction are elements meant for its deconstruction: vinyl stickers, removable posters and even the perfect binding within the black gauze. It is a collectible object perfectly complimentary to its content. -- Melanie McWhorter

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