Vince Aletti – The Drawer

March 22–May 4, 2024

Press Release

White Columns is pleased to present The Drawer – an installation by the New York-based writer and curator Vince Aletti.

Titled after Aletti’s award-winning 2022 book The Drawer, the installation takes the form of five large-scale tabletop arrangements of printed ephemera drawn from Aletti’s vast – and legendary – collection (that is typically housed in antique flat file drawers in his East Village apartment.) Collected over several decades, Aletti’s ‘image bank’ focuses on portraiture with an emphasis on portraits of men.

Like its printed counterpart, Aletti’s installation freely juxtaposes images drawn from the worlds of art, photography, fashion and popular culture: images that originally appeared and previously circulated as gallery announcements, in magazines and newspapers, as cinema lobby cards, and much more besides. Eschewing any distinctions between ‘high’ and ‘low,’ with The Drawer Aletti celebrates photography’s multiple and overlapping histories, and photography’s ongoing entanglements with the media and the printed image. Seen together and in relationship to one another, Aletti’s often visceral juxtapositions explore and amplify “the complexity and variety of desire, personal and collective histories, and the power of art to reflect and shape who we are.”

Sharing an aesthetic intensity with the devotional, scrapbook-like displays to be found on a teenager’s bedroom wall, and the more pointed juxtapositions evidenced in the extraordinary collaged photomurals that the British playwright Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell created for their mid-1960s London flat, Aletti’s installation is an open-ended visual ‘essay’ on the seductive power – and potential – of images.

 


 

Vince Aletti is a writer and curator based in New York City. His writings on music and photography have been published widely. Between 1973 and 1978 Aletti wrote a highly prescient weekly column on the emerging disco scene for Record World magazine, and between 1987 and 2005 he was the art editor and photography critic for The Village Voice. His writings have also appeared in The New Yorker, Artforum, and Vogue Italia, among many other publications. His book Issues: A History of Photography in Fashion Magazines was published by Phaidon in 2019. The Drawer was published by Self Publish, Be Happy in September 2022 and went on to win the 2023 Aperture/Paris Photo Photobook of the Year award. This exhibition is Vince’s fifth collaboration with White Columns following on from his 2008 exhibition Male: Work from the collection of Vince Aletti; the 2014 exhibition of Robert Kitchen’s work, and the 2019 exhibition of Ed Baynard’s work (both curated by Vince); and the 2008 White Columns publication of Vince’s collected writings on disco, Disco File, which was subsequently republished in an expanded edition by DJ History/D.A.P.

 


 

White Columns would like to thank Vince for The Drawer and his ongoing enthusiasm for and collaborations with White Columns.

Copies of The Drawer, now entering its second printing, are available to purchase from the gallery. To learn more: selfpublishbehappy.com

For more information about this exhibition, please contact info@whitecolumns.org

For press inquiries, contact violet@whitecolumns.org

Vince Aletti, installation view, 2024. (A head-on view of a white-walled gallery with five tables protruding from the walls. On the furthest wall, a book sits on a shelf with a stool in front.)
Vince Aletti, installation view, 2024. (An angled view of the gallery. Two tables can be seen emerging from the left side wall and another two are visible on the right side. The surfaces of the tables are completely covered in arrangements of printed photographs. A small shelf with a book resting on it and a stool is seen in the background.)
Vince Aletti, installation view, 2024. (An angled view of a freestanding, white gallery wall. Two tables with glass coverings protrude from the wall. In the background, there is a brick wall with an archway through which a brightly colored Carole Gibbons painting is seen.)
Vince Aletti, installation view, 2024. (Overhead view of a table. The surface of the table is completely covered with collected images in a layered, scrapbook-like display. The majority of images are portraits, some of which are nude and some are of recognizable figures, such as John Lennon and Andy Warhol. The images appear to be from a variety of sources. A few magazine covers are included, where the text can be read: “STRENGTH,” “BAZAAR,” and “SIGHT and SOUND.”)
Vince Aletti, installation view, 2024. (Overhead view of a table. The surface of the table is completely covered with a variety of images facing the edges of the table, some appearing upside down in this view. The images come from multiple decades and sources, mostly containing figures. Legible text present in the image clippings include, from top right to bottom left: “PAUL THEK PACE,” “RICHARD PRINCE,” “BAZAAR,” “DIRTY” and “WILLY CHAV- UNC-.”)
Vince Aletti, installation view, 2024. (Overhead view of a table. The surface of the table is fully covered in arranged image clippings. The majority of images are portraits of men. There are a few line drawings present. Legible text present in the image clippings include, from top right to bottom left: “FREE NEW YORK,” “LIFE + WAR,” and “KITAJIMA THE JOY OF PORTRAITS.”)
Vince Aletti, installation view, 2024. (Overhead view of table top. The surface of the table is completely covered with collected, printed images from a variety of sources and decades. The images are mainly portraits of men (but not exclusively), some of which are nude. Other images are of figurative art, athletes, fashion models or celebrities. Legible text included on a comic book cover at the center of the table reads, “HEART THROBS.”)
Vince Aletti, installation view, 2024. (Overhead view of table top. The surface of the table is completely covered with collected printed images and materials in a scrapbook-like arrangement. Some of the images are from magazines and newspapers. Many of the images are portraits. Two retro Bazaar magazine covers are present, as well as a Vogue cover, and the cover of Interview magazine featuring Bad Bunny.)
Vince Aletti, The Drawer (SPBH/MACK, 2024). Courtesy of the artist, SPBH/MACK. (The front cover of a book which reads in white lowercase text, “the drawer by vince aletti,” atop half an image of a man's eyes, a horizontal image of two partially nude male figures, and the right side of a newspaper clipping.)

Vince Aletti, installation view, 2024. (A head-on view of a white-walled gallery with five tables protruding from the walls. On the furthest wall, a book sits on a shelf with a stool in front.)

Vince Aletti, installation view, 2024. (An angled view of the gallery. Two tables can be seen emerging from the left side wall and another two are visible on the right side. The surfaces of the tables are completely covered in arrangements of printed photographs. A small shelf with a book resting on it and a stool is seen in the background.)

Vince Aletti, installation view, 2024. (An angled view of a freestanding, white gallery wall. Two tables with glass coverings protrude from the wall. In the background, there is a brick wall with an archway through which a brightly colored Carole Gibbons painting is seen.)

Vince Aletti, installation view, 2024. (Overhead view of a table. The surface of the table is completely covered with collected images in a layered, scrapbook-like display. The majority of images are portraits, some of which are nude and some are of recognizable figures, such as John Lennon and Andy Warhol. The images appear to be from a variety of sources. A few magazine covers are included, where the text can be read: “STRENGTH,” “BAZAAR,” and “SIGHT and SOUND.”)

Vince Aletti, installation view, 2024. (Overhead view of a table. The surface of the table is completely covered with a variety of images facing the edges of the table, some appearing upside down in this view. The images come from multiple decades and sources, mostly containing figures. Legible text present in the image clippings include, from top right to bottom left: “PAUL THEK PACE,” “RICHARD PRINCE,” “BAZAAR,” “DIRTY” and “WILLY CHAV- UNC-.”)

Vince Aletti, installation view, 2024. (Overhead view of a table. The surface of the table is fully covered in arranged image clippings. The majority of images are portraits of men. There are a few line drawings present. Legible text present in the image clippings include, from top right to bottom left: “FREE NEW YORK,” “LIFE + WAR,” and “KITAJIMA THE JOY OF PORTRAITS.”)

Vince Aletti, installation view, 2024. (Overhead view of table top. The surface of the table is completely covered with collected, printed images from a variety of sources and decades. The images are mainly portraits of men (but not exclusively), some of which are nude. Other images are of figurative art, athletes, fashion models or celebrities. Legible text included on a comic book cover at the center of the table reads, “HEART THROBS.”)

Vince Aletti, installation view, 2024. (Overhead view of table top. The surface of the table is completely covered with collected printed images and materials in a scrapbook-like arrangement. Some of the images are from magazines and newspapers. Many of the images are portraits. Two retro Bazaar magazine covers are present, as well as a Vogue cover, and the cover of Interview magazine featuring Bad Bunny.)

Vince Aletti, The Drawer (SPBH/MACK, 2024). Courtesy of the artist, SPBH/MACK. (The front cover of a book which reads in white lowercase text, “the drawer by vince aletti,” atop half an image of a man’s eyes, a horizontal image of two partially nude male figures, and the right side of a newspaper clipping.)