November 2024

Now Is Forever

Ari MarcopoulosAri MarcopoulosAri MarcopoulosAri MarcopoulosText: Amanda Maxwell Images: Ari Marcopoulos

Some of my favourite photographs are the ones where you can tell that the photographer and his or her subject are sharing a special moment, and the camera between them is inconsequential. I don’t think you can stage that kind of connection. I like Ari Marcopoulos’s work a lot because it’s clear that the people and places he shoots are special to him, and his pictures aren’t voyeuristic, he’s just recording his own life as he lives it.

Ari started out in the early 1980s in New York as an assistant to Andy Warhol. In the years since he’s had a behind-the-scenes presence in a number of alternative cultural movements, not only as a respected photographer but as a trusted friend. Many of his photographs of young skateboarders, snowboarders, musicians, actors and artists have become emblematic of a certain time and place.

Amanda Maxwell: You have a strong history of photographing your immediate family; and youth subcultures from the inside, as a friend. How does being close to your subjects affect your choices about which pictures you take and/or show.

Ari Marcopolos: It’s hard to say there are many considerations and I have made mistakes. To me the photos represent an experience in life, biographical nor auto-biographical, but the subject might not always agree with that.

Amanda M: How have your friendships with the people you photograph come about?

Ari M: Just like any friendship I think, mutual interest and admiration.

Amanda M: The pictures you took in the ‘90s of New York skateboarders have become quite iconic and continue to appear in your books and zines. Why was that a particularly important time for you?

Ari M: For me it was an important time because it was really the first time that I focused on one subject for an extended period of time.

Amanda M: I find it interesting that your photographs of your own kids, now that they are growing up, bear quite a resemblance to the ‘90s NY kids. Is this something you are conscious of and if so, how do you feel about it?

Ari M: That time was an indicator of the style to come. The skater look became international and a trend for young people and my kids weren’t immune to that, plus they got a lot of free stuff.

Amanda M: Your work over the years has been consistently impressive and inspiring, but your choices about photographic equipment and how to show and/or publish your photographs have been pretty diverse. Has that come about through wanting to find different ways of communicating images, or through wanting to break from conventions, or something else?

Ari M: Sometimes necessity and also always thinking about how to show images in different ways. The traditional color print is beautiful of course but sometimes limiting. I wanted to be free from decisions concerning color etc, just have a raw, direct way of showing something.

Amanda M: How do you stay inspired?

Ari M: Eat my Wheeties every morning.

Amanda M: You’ve had a solid output of books and zines over the last few years. What are your thoughts on publishing and self-publishing?

Ari M: I love making books, its probably what I do most so I have many books ready to go in different states. I love self-publishing because it is fast and direct. Traditional publishing gives me more time to think about things and work a book out more. A zine can be done in a day so I think they are more emotional form of publishing.

Amanda M: Your earlier shows and books treated groups of photographs as distinct series. More recently you have brought photos from earlier series together into new, looser collections. Why?

Ari M: Like a hip-hop remix maybe.

Amanda M: You’ve undertaken a number of collaborations with commercial brands – do you see this as a way of reaching a broader audience or does it have other relevance to your work?

Ari M: To make a living and for sure some of it leads to a broader audience.

Amanda M: What or who have you been photographing recently?

Ari M: I am not sure I am feeling it out so there is no clear direction at the moment. I have been making some short films.

The Ari Marcopoulos Camera Bag by Incase is available in Australia this month from Incu, Supply, Rushfaster, Rhd, The Outpost and Someday. Enquiries [email protected]

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