Stolen Ground: Burning
Photography zine, issue #2, Stolen Ground Publishing, stolenground.storenvy.com, $12
As a non-photographer, photo zines are tricky for me. I guess I know what I like to look at, and without that technical training or knowledge of its formal history as a medium, photographs are stripped to their most bare components, leaving them open to my most subjective interpretation. With that as a sort of caveat, let’s see what’s at play here.
The editors, on the inside front cover, explain that they “asked 30 independent photographers to show their interpretations of burning.” Some of these turn out to be somewhat literal, insofar as they contain physical depictions of actual combustion: cigarettes (many of these), a bonfire, evidence of an apartment fire, flares, and fire-breathing, to name a few. If one were to flip through this zine without knowledge of the theme, a general emphasis on mostly young, mostly white hipsters, mostly partying, comes forth with only a few exceptions.
It seems the photographers aren’t as overwhelmingly white as their subjects, which could be an interesting comment in and of itself on the perception of “burning”. It struck me as paradigmatic that white partying is conceived of as “burning”, as a kind of last flash in the pan of a deteriorating or declining culture. Meanwhile, it also betrays a sort of “I’m so naughty” brush with abjection typical of white youth culture; something that for me needs more context to be palatable. (Stéphane Doucet)