Five Questions With Jason Eskenazi

Name: JASON ESKENAZI

Title/Occupation: DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER

Organization/Company: SELF-ORGANIZED

URL: jasoneskenazi.com/wonderland.html

Note: When I received Eskenazi’s answers to the five questions, they were in all caps. As opposed to editing his response I felt this aspect added a sense of his infectious enthusiasm. Try listing to his Studio 360 interview before reading these replies. The photos that accompany his answers are from his book “Wonderland”.

1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?

I GREW UP IN QUEENS AND AFTER ALMOST 50 YEARS FINALLY CROSSED THE BORDER TO RED HOOK BROOKLYN WHERE THE IKEA LOOMS JUST OUTSIDE MY WINDOW. THOUGH IN BETWEEN I LIVED IN BERLIN, MOSCOW, MANHATTAN AND MANY OTHER LOCALES. NOW I LIVE IN A PHOTO-LOFT WITH SOME COLLEAGUES. IT HAS BECOME A HAVEN FOR OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS WHO NEED HELP WITH DEVELOPING THEIR PROJECTS. ACTUALLY WE ALL NEED HELP TO QUELL OUR PHOTO-MANIA.

2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?

DIFFICULT! I MAY HAVE TO SAY ‘THE SOUND OF MUSIC’ BECAUSE THERE IS A MOMENT WHEN MARIA REALIZES THAT SHE LOVES THE CAPTAIN AND THEY BOTH SING ‘NOTHING COMES FROM NOTHING, NOTHING EVER COULD….’ AND I THINK THAT ABOUT SUMS IT UP FOR ME. OTHER FAVS: BLOW-UP (ANTONIONI), GALVESTON (BY GLEN CAMPBELL),  BOHEMIA LIES BY THE SEA (ANSOM KEIFER – AT THE MET), MY CHERI-AMOUR (STEVIE WONDER – I ALWAYS HAVE TO STOP IN MY TRACKS WHEN I HEAR THAT SONG), WAITING FOR GODOT, NEW WORLD (TERRANCE MALICK); THOMAS HARDY! THE 5 MINUTE EXTENDED E CHORD AT THE BEGINNING OF WAGNERS’ “DAS RHEINGOLD” EMPOWERS ME TO GREAT HEIGHTS.

3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?

I WISH I COULD GLIDE ACROSS THE FLOOR- IT JUST LOOKS LIKE FUN AND IT SEEMS THAT THOSE WHO CAN DANCE CAN CONTROL THE CHAOS OF THE WORLD.

4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.

I GET UP AT 6AM (EVEN IF I HAD TOO MUCH BEER) AND CHECK MY EMAILS. THEN I RECHECK MY EMAILS AND MAKE COFFEE. THEN I CHECK THEM AGAIN AND AGAIN UNTIL ITS BEDTIME. IN BETWEEN, THESE DAYS, I’M FILLING ORDERS FOR MY BOOK, JUST REPRINTED. I NOW OWN AND DISTRIBUTE MY BOOK ON THE FORMER USSR CALLED ‘WONDERLAND: A FAIRY TALE OF THE SOVIET MONOLITH.’ I JUST QUIT THE MET AS A SECURITY GUARD A FEW MONTHS AGO AND MADE MY WAY TO ISTANBUL TO MAKE PHOTOS FOR MY 2ND BOOK ‘THE BLACK GARDEN.’ WHILE HERE IM EDITING A ZINE CALLED ‘SWIPE’ BY AND FOR THE GUARDS AT THE MUSEUM. AND SOON I HOPE TO RELOCATE TO ISTANBUL FOR A YEAR TO SHOOT SHOOT SHOOT!

5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?

WORK IS ART; ART IS WORK. BUT ITS FUN AND REWARDING I HAD A JOB AT THE MET AND IT ALMOST CRIPPLED MY MIND AND IMAGINATION. I CHOOSE ART-MAKING BECAUSE WE ARE MEANT TO CREATE AS HUMAN BEINGS.

Eskenazi is now offer a discounted price of $100.00 for the photo of your choosing when you buy Wonderland. For more information contact the photographer at jasoneskenazi@hotmail.com.

You can read my 2007 story “Jason Eskenazi and the Rodeo City” here.

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