JTF (just the facts): Published in 2014 by Deadbeat Club Press (here). A 28 page full color photo zine, with multiple fold out pages and a two sided belly band, in an edition of 400. The zine includes both black and white and color photographs in multiple sizes, most on proof sheets. There are no texts or essays. (Spread shots below.)
Comments/Context: Ed Templeton’s newest photobook/zine is an exercise in constant back and forth movement – between personal and impersonal, known and unknown, color and black and white, and physically open and closed. It mixes casual portraits and nudes of his wife and friends with street photographs of life on the Huntington Beach piers and in various European cities, juxtaposing close up intimacy with bikinis, boardwalks, and the makeshift shelters of the homeless. Using the visual motif of the contact sheet (complete with the film holding sprocket holes on the edges), the book has a sense of genuine immediacy, the feeling of an unedited series of images taken directly from the artist’s life.
Photographically, Templeton has generally stayed close to home in his career, making rough but tender pictures of the skateboarding world he is immersed in, the teenagers who inhabit it, and his wife Deanna. This zine isn’t a departure from that subject matter, but more of a stream of consciousness snippet of what has been recently passing in front of his lens. His best photographs are full of vitality and knowing understanding, from the left over shavings after a haircut to perceptive views of teens hanging out, smoking, and kissing on the subway. Quiet hotel room nudes of his wife and the cutting of a birthday cake are interleaved with a woman feeding stray cats and a homeless man’s cardboard box house, and we can feel the artist moving from looking inward to looking outward. Templeton is measuring the details in the world around him as he makes his travels, at one moment an authentic insider, at another capturing a glimpse of something at a distance.
This zine is particularly unusual in that it isn’t a straightforward, flip the pages kind of stapled production. Templeton’s proof sheets are shown in a variety of sizes and orientations, from full page single images to narrow strips and from right side up to turned both left and right. It also contains a number of unexpected fold outs, where the page folds upward to reveal images on both sides or expands in both directions to make room for larger images. Each turn of the page forces a recalibration for the viewer – squinting to see tiny rows of frames to quickly unfolding something to find a surprise. Even the belly band is two sided, the front a two row stream of color images from the beach, the underside a series of black and white portraits and nudes. Seen together, the zine is more like a carefully crafted artist’s book, where each action by the reader has been scripted and controlled by the artist.
So while at first glance, Random & Pointless might seem to be an appropriate title, further immersion finds this thin zine to be anything but. Part of what makes Templeton’s photographs so successful is that they are so unadorned and unvarnished, an unobstructed view into his own life without added layers of staging or conceptual trickery. This zine is a bracing reminder that open, personal photography can still shimmer with energy, especially when we are allowed to vicariously observe with such directness and nuance.
Collector’s POV: Ed Templeton is represented by Roberts & Tilton in Los Angeles (here) and Tim Van Laere Gallery in Antwerp (here). While a few of Templeton’s works have shown up in the secondary markets in recent years, there haven’t been enough to chart any useful auction history, especially since many of his works are multi-image installations. As such, gallery retail remains the best option for those collectors interested in following up.