Vice Photo Issue.

With all of the good things that I have said about McGinley, he is sure a shitty editor–one of the good things about Vice used to be the imagery and this time he has almost failed to deliver. Of the 75 examples of what are supposed to be to the best of the young and transgressive, maybe 5 do anything to the mind and heart.

There is Asher Penn’s photo of an apple and a branch floating in a perfect blue sky. Transgressive because it has none of the sex and violence expected, just a lovely technician’s exercise that turns into something with a solidity. It is almost a freshman’s accident, and that newness comes through as well. The return of not beauty but decorative prettiness is here.

Angela Strassheim’s subject, the pretty student nurse Liza has a perfect suburban bedroom. She is photographed on top of her mint green sheets, behind the pistachio walls, with a gossamer curtain over the picture window. To her right is a white dresser, on top of which are a vase with five perfect daisies. It is one of those House Beautiful and all is right with the world photos, until you realize that Lisa has most of her toes missing, and the ones that aren’t missing are cadaverously blue. She was a victim of Toxic Shock Symptom, and although the text doesn’t say it, there is an attachment of the femininity of the background to the femininity of the disease.

Jerry Hsu’s little Kansas farm boy, and the delusion on his face, that one could trade a skateboard for a handful of plastic trinkets is heartbreaking–and hope dashing, cause you know the asshole won’t give him the board.

Most of Thatcher Keats photos of a road killed deer slaughtering have that new york hipster disdain for the work of the rural poor, but the one where you can see all the guts hanging out has the majesty of a Renaissance still life, who knew the innards of mammals were so diverse in colour and shape–crimson streaks on the bucks flank, the surgical scrub green of the liver, the graphite grey of the bowels, the tawny husk of skin all show a tautness of emotion and skill.

These ones, from a federal prisoner, are not very good photographically but show the kind of anthropological attention that vice takes care of, and other publications don’t. The details, of knowing how prisoners are transfered, and how they keep the families they have made in check with monthly photos. The idea of heavy, tough, angry men having the tenderness imparted in cheap and easy point and clicks says more about the prison system then almost anything i’ve seen.