Thursday, Dec 09, 2021 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
At once a celebration and a requiem, the project, captured between 2005 and 2009 by photographer Nick Haymes, is a record of a drifting community of young friends based mainly between two distinct geographic points: Southern California and Tulsa, Oklahoma. The book's narrative merges a sense of joy in documenting burgeoning friendships and bonds, and a looming sense of dread that would ultimately culminate in a series of tragedies.
Weaving throughout the book's intimate photographs are a series of digital screenshots which Haymes has identified as key to this moment in time, which offer the viewer a secondary narrative of engagement. Social media was still relatively young and Haymes became acutely aware of a new nodal sense of communication between these distinct groups of friends. Platforms such as MySpace, YouTube and online message boards engendered a sense of community by enabling connection, while also setting new and impossible standards and expectations. Diligently collected, these various forms of communication between the characters frame a foreboding that grows as the pages turn. Haymes dots the pages with references to live geotags and URL addresses that allow the curious viewer to dig deeper into the book’s subjective truths.
In Haymes’ own introduction he accounts how his camera allowed him to compensate for a sense of crippling shyness developed during his teenage years. ’I picked up a camera and hid, discovering I could once again be near people, intimate with them, without having to engage,’ he writes. To create this publication, the artist has returned to a body of pictures, piecing together what happened to these people for himself. Here, Haymes invites us to form a contemporary engagement with this specific historic moment, where things are both different and the same in equal measure. L.P. Hartley famously opened his coming of age opus The Go-Between ’The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.’ The Last Survivor is the First Suspect shows this sentiment with remarkable clarity.
Nick Haymes is a visual artist and photographer born in Stratford Upon Avon (UK), living and working in Los Angeles. Haymes studied fine art, but dropped out in his second year; using a fake ID under a friend’s name he subsequently studied photography at SVA and ICP. In 2010 Haymes started Little Big Man books and gallery.
Book is designed by Winfried Heininger and published by Kodoji Press.