November 22, 2011
If you were into any sort of artistic subculture during the pre-Internet era, you probably read fanzines. If you're unfamiliar with the term, they were unprofessional magazines created by fans, containing art, articles, and news for people who otherwise couldn't get much info on what they loved. For horror aficionados, indie rock fans, and the like, fanzines were an important source of news and opinion.
These days, they don't exist much in physical form, although they apparently are making something of a comeback. Serious fans still exist to put together a zine on a beloved topic. Which is exactly what Ari Marcopoulos, a famous photographer who's worked with Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, did for NBA center Tyson Chandler(notes). From Ben Cohen for The Wall Street Journal (via my pal David Roth):
One night last June, Marcopoulos and Camilla Venturini, his 23-year-old Italian art director, walked into a Park Slope sports bar for Game 6 of the NBA Finals and watched Dallas clinch its series against the Miami Heat. It wasn't long before the artists were inspired by Chandler.
Venturini was captivated for another reason. "First of all, he's handsome," she said. "But what I really like about him is that he's always really calm and rational. I follow him on his Facebook page and he looks modest and devoted to his family." [...]
The 7-foot-1 Chandler was in Chelsea visiting art galleries Tuesday when he was briefed about the fan zine. Since he was in the area, he walked into Printed Matter, the only Manhattan bookstore with "Tyson Chandler" still in stock. "There was a dope vibe in there," he said.
Then the zine's namesake proceeded to purchase the remaining copies of "Tyson Chandler." He even autographed one and left it for Marcopoulos. "It's one of the big accomplishments of my career," Chandler said. He posed for photos while reading the zine and called Marcopoulos, who was in Italy on a video shoot with Venturini.
So there you have it, a true American story of wonder: two immigrant photographic artists watched a basketball game, became captivated by a role player, found a bunch of images on Google, and put together a publication that was most popular in the '80s and '90s. They printed up 150, have since sold out, and apparently now plan to shoot Chandler for a professional project. There's not much analysis to provide here -- it's the kind of story that requires you to shrug your shoulders and look on in awe at the beautiful randomness of life.
If we're lucky, the success of Marcopoulos' Chandler zine will spark a trend of artist-created basketball-themed zines. If we're doubly lucky, the next subject will be Chandler's Mavs teammate Brian Cardinal(notes). Get at me, New York creative minds. These three photos (1, 2, 3) are a great start.