Jonathan Gitelson uses the camera as a witness to his own elaborate and often ridiculous actions: he photographed his garbage cans every day for two and a half years to figure out who was stealing them; he parked his car in front of every night club in Chicago that covered his car with flyers – wearing a car cozy of those very flyers; and took self-portraits in front of every apartment where he once lived…you get the point.
While immensely entertaining, Gitelson’s work is deeply revealing of the nature and state of the photographic image. How do we document our lives that, in truth, are mostly composed of mundane and repetitive details? How is this impulse fed by the medium’s own history and what implications does that have for a photographer? Working in series that often take the form of large-scale prints and artist books, Gitelson reaches back into the medium’s early history of documentation and its role in the creation of types or typologies. In this, he draws on everyone from the Weimar-era cataloguer of the German people, August Sanders, to the conceptually driven photography of Ed Ruscha, who documented every building on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles.
Gitelson’s serial imagery shares a minimalist aesthetic and documentary style with his predecessors that lends an aura of objectivity to his work. But this removed coolness simply functions as the straight man in the comedic play that are Gitelson’s projects. The photographs are in service of a greater narrative—of the minutiae in everyday life—that comes through his elaborate and witty titles.
Jonathan Gitelson, J. Crew Rollneck Sweater, 100% Wool, 2008
From the series Items of Clothing Secretly Hidden By My Girlfriend (So I Wouldn’t Wear Them Anymore)
50 x 40 inches
Courtesy of the artist