The Silver Series: Nudity in Physical Form
A Perfect Gift for Weddings or Enlightened Easters (Less So for Bar Mitzvahs or Baby Showers)
By David Shuey, March 23, 2010
It seems fitting that I'm finishing the book Naked by David Sedaris the same day I'm meeting Adeline Sides to discuss her gorgeous photography book of painted-but-still-very-nude people, modern design, and open poetry. While laying it all bare terrifies the hell out of the oft-neurotic Sedaris, the elegance, grace and beauty of the collaborators of our esteemed Chicago 6 Corners photo editor make it abundantly clear: as artists, like the photographer herself, they are comfortable in their own skin – and it elevates the material accordingly.
Or simply, naked is awesome – beyond the prurient. Particularly when combining a singular aesthetic with confident execution.
The material in question began as a straight-forward photo project. Sides would work with friends and models, had a make-up artist paint them silver, and produced final prints in black and white with high contrasts. She knew they had merit beyond a gallery showing, but where to take them from there? "I had all these great photos, but I felt like I wanted to do more with these images," said Sides recently at Humboldt's Star Lounge Cafe.
The Silver Series soon took on a life of it's own – as any artist or builder with vast amounts of raw material can attest. The result is now a 78-page break from daily life. You can even preview most of the book here. Tangible, practical ideas fomented when reading it myself – hey, this could be a gift for a hip aunt (if I had one), or a treat for the household coffee table (make room, hookah). More generally, it's an investment in the classical idea of the human form. (Other organic natural forms make far worse gifts.)
A true creative journey, Sides jumped into the fire of the unknown. She already had an experienced hand in the collaborative process. But building a physical product from scratch is another thing. "I got people to sign releases, and all that. But understanding all about the publishing process was a key learning experience."
In total, she worked with four models, seven poets (including herself), two associate editors and contributing editor, and lucked out with a designer who could match the coupling of photography and poems without becoming – in my own graphic designer's eyes – repetitive. Every double-page spread is a new look, a unique feeling – but all living and breathing in the same continuum.
An earlier C6C post on the process and collaboration of the Silver Series goes deeper into that creative period. For me, I love hearing about the means. But it's the ends that make me recommend this book.
Look closely. Check out the photos on this page by clicking them. A poem can be found on this image to the right. Again, check out most of the pages online. But if you want the real (physical) deal, better get yourself some paints and Craigslist models – or better yet, buy the book. It's not only an investment in Chicago (and New Orleans) created art – it might also save your own (fully clothed) ass the next time you forget to buy that wedding present.