John Wisniewski: Marcus, could you tell us about the book of your work, “Out Of The Shadows?” It features photos of Divine and Robert Mapplethorpe.
Marcus Leatherdale: “Out of the Shadows” NYC 1980-1992 published by ACC London-NY. Yes there are two photos of Divine and one of Robert…out of 60 portraits. The book focuses on my work from 30 – 40 years ago…Nostalgia beckons.
Leatherdale’s anthology is flush with intimate shots of the 1980s In Crowd, paying homage to a past generation of celebrities. Each shot captures a fragment of the city’s vibrant bohemia. The young subjects who stand before Leatherdale’s camera think themselves immortal, ageless. And in a sense, they were right. While their limelight might’ve faded, and many of these beloved icons – Warhol, Tina Chow, Keith Haring, John Sex and International Chrysis, to name a few – have passed away, the legendary glamor of the Eighties lives on.
Leatherdale’s photography acknowledges this. However, it also encourages us to question how much of our Eighties-obsession is based on a fantasy. Do we long for the past to avoid our fears of a precarious future? After all, as a twenty-something who snapped photos just to get by, Leatherdale had no idea that he was chronicling an era soon to face extinction. Provoking and intense, this collection investigates the very nature of nostalgia.
John Wisniewski: Are there any photographers that you like?
I prefer old school photographers like Pen and Sanders..whoever my inspiration has always been classical painters. Caravaggio ..Modigliani, Schiele…Klimt.
John Wisniewski: What was it like being part of the downtown new York art scene, during
Marcus Leatherdale: Being part of the downtown NYC Art crowd in the 80s was amazing. There was a vibrant bohemia community which thrived on creativity and originality…not money and labels. There was a sense of being exactly where I wanted to be. I have never felt that strongly about anywhere or time since. New York City is no longer New York City because New Yorkers no longer live in it. Americans do…the Americans that would never have set foot in the city when it was my NYC…too edgy, too dangerous, too dirty…just another American city now…I miss my New York City…BTW…when I refer to New Yorkers …I am not being literal…it’s a mindset. I am a Canadian New Yorker, but not an American.
John Wisniewski: Can we return to “Out of the shadows”? What was it like to photograph many up and coming celebrities?
Marcus Leatherdale: These up and coming celebrities were all my friends…we were all just 20 something boeing creative in a Bohemian world…which was alive and well back then in the 80s in NYC. The photo shoots were quite social, personal and laid back….It was very give and take.
John Wisniewski: Could you tell us about any upcoming projects, or exhibitions, Marcus?
Marcus Leatherdale: My latest project is working with CITTA and Michael Daube. A Girls School is being built in the That desert of India….Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.The original gypsies originate from this region…I will be photographing the tribal women and creating a book and exhibition to help fund the completion of the school.( check out FB post I sent you )…. hopefully Out of Shadows Exhibit will travel to London…maybe Mexico City.
I will relocate to Mexico in 2020.. will focus on the Mayan culture….. and the Muxes of Oaxaca…traditional transgender society.