Portraits

Photography, Publishing

Excerpt from In the Midst of Things (Photograph)

Excerpt from “In the Midst of things”
by Sarah Hiatt

In the Midst of Things by Sarah Hiatt
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Photographer Sarah Hiatt captures a side of adolescence that we only murkily remember: a feeling of weariness with the present moment, terror of the future, the awkwardness of being in between. Over the course of six years, Hiatt photographed her younger niece and nephews around their home as they grew up in the small town of Joplin, Missouri, for her series In the Midst of Things. The images serve as a coming-of-age story, a visual narrative created through their personal experiences and shaped by the photographer’s struggles with guilt, loss, and loneliness. As their aunt, Hiatt was able to depict the formation of memories and the sad passage of time in a uniquely intimate way.

Hiatt writes, “The photographs of my niece and nephews reflect the formation of identity, and the relationship the children have to one another, to their environment, to their bodies, and to me. They live in a rural, predominantly white area of the Ozarks. In this series, they are often seen in quiet spaces, isolated and surrounded by darkness. Their internal lives emerge through subtle gesture and expression. Their home seems a safe space as identities and relationships are built and nurtured within a domestic, womb-like environment. Children often physically and emotionally mature beyond those boundaries. Time extends while pushing us forward, upward, and out.”

As a native of the Ozarks, Hiatt brings a nuanced and honest perspective on rural America that is so often lacking in contemporary photography. In the stillness of Hiatt’s images, becoming an adult means growing out of, or growing into, one’s family, religion, society, gender role, and place. Hiatt’s photographs ask: Do we inevitably accept this place, these obligations, this repetition? Do we reject these constraints? Would anyone know the difference?


Sarah Hiatt earned her BFA from Missouri State University, and her MFA from Columbia College Chicago. Hiatt currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.

Literature, Publishing, Photography

Carl Van Vechten, William Seabrook, and Marjorie Worthington

William Seabrook and Marjorie Worthington
Portraits by Carl Van Vechten (1880–1964)


Usually we took them in our stride, offering an apéritif, lunch, or dinner, and sometimes a trip in one of the little boats across the harbor to Les Sablettes. But when Carl Van Vechten and his vivacious wife, Fania, arrived, they expected more than that. At least, Carl did. For all his sophistication there was a streak of naïveté in Carlo that was perhaps part of his charm. 

We took him and Fania to Charley’s, where we enjoyed our dinner, and then Carl announced that he wanted to visit a Toulon brothel. I am quite sure he would never have asked to visit one in New York or any other American city, but because he was in France and because Marseilles had a certain reputation and Toulon, actually, was not far from Marseilles, he expected Toulon to be filled with houses of ill fame, all of them very exciting and special. 

The truth was, Willie and I were the last people to act as cicerones in the area of commercialized vice. When Willie wanted excitement he had his own ways of creating it, and the synthetic stuff likely to be found in brothels would have bored him to death. 

However, since all our friends expected us to show them the sights, we walked with the Van Vechtens to a part of the town that was almost as unfamiliar to us as it was to them. As I remember it, there was a row of houses over near one of the gates in what remained of the wall that had surrounded Toulon in medieval times. Over each house, on the glass transom, was written in elaborate lettering, a name: Adele, Nanette, Mignon, etc. And over the name was a naked light bulb, painted red. 

We went along the row and came back to the first one, Adele’s house, because it was the largest and therefore promised the most elaborate entertainment. We rang a bell and the door was opened for us after a while by a rather drab female whom we took to be a servant. She led us into a large square room, and to a wooden table along a wall. She took our order for drinks, and disappeared. 

We looked around. Anything less like a house of joy would have been hard to find. The floor and walls were bare. In a corner was an upright piano and a bench but no piano player. In fact, a lugubrious silence filled the room, and we waited for our drinks with the hope they would brighten things up, at least for us. They took a long time coming and when they arrived were served by a short squat little man with a handlebar mustache, wearing sloppy trousers and carpet slippers. 

Carlo asked him where everyone was and he shrugged his shoulders. Adele was not working tonight, he said, and her regular customers had the delicacy to stay away. It appeared that Adele’s father had just died, and the house was in mourning. 

However, he added, as we started to leave, there was one girl on duty, “une brave jeune fille,” and he would send her to us immediately. In the meantime, since the “girls” were permitted to drink only champagne, would we not like to order a bottle? Of the very best? It was obvious that he disapproved of our marc, the local eau de vie, which Willie had ordered for all of us in a vain effort to show we were not tourists. The French were always great sticklers for form, and in the circumstances champagne was the proper thing to drink, even the sweet, sickening stuff he opened for us with a pop and a flourish. It didn’t make us feel any gayer. 

Pretty soon a young woman entered the room and came up to our table. She was wearing a plain dark skirt and blouse and she looked vaguely familiar. It was the little slattern who had opened the door for us, only now her dark hair was brushed and she looked cleaner. She sat down with us and accepted a glass of wine. Then she looked at us expectantly. 

Willie spoke to the girl, using the patois of the region, and Carlo listened as if he understood, and I grew very nervous. I looked at Fania and she looked at me and we didn’t need words in any language to understand each other. We made an excuse and asked the girl to show us where the powder room was, just as though we were at “21” or the Colony, and if the girl looked puzzled it was only for a moment. She caught on quickly enough that we wanted to talk to her. 

When we got out of sight, Fania took a handful of francs from her bag and I found fifty of my own to add to them. “Say no to the Messieurs,” I managed to say. She understood, parfaitement, and thanked us. After all, with a death in the family . . . you understand . . . and the funeral tomorrow . . . one didn’t feel exactly like . . . It was understood. And she thanked us. 

Carlo and Willie were as relieved as we were to be out on the street again. The hour was late, and the Van Vechtens were catching a train for Italy early in the morning. We took them back to the Grand Hotel, still good friends in spite of the fact that we, as well as Toulon, had failed to live up to our reputation.

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Photography

Photography by Sara Rinaldi

PHOTOGRAPHY BY SARA RINALDI

From The Street Kids (Ragazzi di vita), by Pier Paolo Pasolini:

Nadia was lying on the sand, unmoving, her face filled with hatred for the sun, the wind, the sea, and all the people who had come to sit on the beach, like an invasion of flies on a table that’s been cleared. They were there by the thousands, from Battitini to the Lido, from the Lido to Marechiaro, from Marechiaro to Principe, from Principe to Ondina, in dozens of beach clubs, some lying on their backs, some on their stomachs, but those were for the most part old people: the young people — the boys in their long trunks, baggy or form-fitting, so that everything underneath was visible, the girls, those dopes, in very tight suits, their hair long — walked back and forth without stopping, as if they had a nervous tic. And they all called to one another, shouting, yelling, teasing, playing, going in and out of the cabanas, calling the attendant; there was even a band of young men from Trastevere in Mexican hats who were playing in front of the cabanas with an accordion, a guitar, and castanets; and their sambas were mixed in with the rhumbas of the loudspeaker at Marechiaro that echoed against the sea. Nadia was lying there in the middle in a black bathing suit; she had a lot of hair, black as the devil’s, curling and sweaty in her armpits, and the hair on her head was black like coal, too, as were her eyes, blazing furiously.


Sara Rinaldi began taking photographs in high school, and studied video making, performance art, and photography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. She carries a camera almost all the time and takes pictures of everything – lights, people, colors, places. Her friends and the female body are her main sources of inspiration, and photography is her messy diary. She is currently living in Milan and working on her first photo book. Follow Sara on Flickr and Instagram

Photography

Charlotte Hooij (Photography)

Photographs by Charlotte Hooij

Charlotte Hooij took many of these photographs in Brussels, depicting the inner life of a historic, bureaucratic city. With brilliant colors and a refreshing candid formalism, her photographs of men and women in uncomfortable habitats are reminiscent of Georges Simenon’s portrayals of existentially lost northern Europeans.

From Pedigree, by Georges Simenon, translated by Robert Baldick (available from NYRB):

Now the street was empty, with just a thin drizzle to give it a touch of life. The shop-windows had disappeared one after another behind their iron curtains. The men with frozen noses who distributed coloured prospectuses at the doors of the dress shops had vanished into the darkness. The trams were rarer and made more din; the monotonous noise that could be distinguished in the background was that of the muddy waves of the Meuse breaking against the piers of the Pont des Arches.

In the streets all around, there were plenty of little cafés with frosted-glass windows and cream curtains, but Désiré never set foot in a café except on Sunday morning, at eleven o’clock, and then always at the Renaissance.

He was already scanning the windows inquiringly. He did not think about eating. He kept taking his watch out of his pocket and now and then he would start talking to himself.

At ten o’clock, he was the only person left on the pavement. He had scarcely so much as frowned on seeing some gendarmes’ helmets over in the direction of the Place Saint-Lambert.

Twice he had climbed the stairs, and strained his ears to catch some noise; twice he had fled, frightened, sick at heart.

“Excuse me…”

The policeman at the corner of the street, standing underneath a big dummy clock with its hands fixed, had nothing to do.

“Could you tell me the right time?”

Then with a strained, apologetic smile:

“Time seems to go so slowly when one’s waiting…”


Charlotte Hooij is a photographer and a student at the Luca School of Arts in Brussels, Belgium. Follow her work on her website and on Instagram.