In his latest book, Young New York, published by Aperture, the photographer Ethan James Green brings together his New York photographs. These calm, poetic images are anything but Big Apple clichés.
A photographer immersed in the world of fashion
Like many others, Ethan James Green came to New York to make a career in fashion, and developed his interest in photography under the guidance of David Armstrong. One night, as he was leaving a nightclub, Green ran into Hari Nef, who later became one of the first transgender models as well as one of Green’s first models. Hari Nef contributes a preface to Young New York, recently published by Aperture, while Michael Shulman wrote an introductory essay. Although New York City is synonymous with dense architecture, overcrowding, and noise, Green’s images exude calm and poetry, as if they were suspended in time and space.
The portrait of a community
The use of black-and-white film and a view camera places Ethan James Green belongs in the long line of portrait photographers. Traditionally, the portrait aspires to realism as well as wants to show the essence of the subject. Throughout the book, Green foregrounds the individuality of his subjects, but above all depicts a community. It’s the community he himself is a part of, namely the young New York fashion world, although not exclusively; a world that breaks aesthetic and gender codes. The history of portrait photography is also a history of the photographer and his or her muse, the object of desire. Green had more than one muse—a nearly infinite number of muses. They were his friends, girlfriends, or people he met in the street. His muses were models, artists, entertainers, and queer youth.
An aesthetic of freedom
In addition to his work as an editor, Ethan James Green is a photographer who, with his series Young New York, has created a new visual language that celebrates not just singular “beauty,” but plural “beauties,” free from any generic codes. Green’s images are frank and sincere—he belongs to the community he photographs—but above all, they are necessary. Through his monograph, Green shows that these young people are more than just fashion. Although his photographs are about a moment in time, a period of transition, they are also about representing this youth in the history of photography.
By Claire Debost
Ethan James Green, Young New York
Foreword by Hari Nef and essay by Michael Schulman
Aperture, april 2019, 128 pages