The minutia of life can be a waste of time or the most fascinating thing about it. The writer Saul Bellow once said that he finds a good footnote more interesting than the text itself. And if you know whom to follow on Instagram you can spare yourself from selfies and food pictures and behold some captivating ephemera instead. One cannot always be grandiose – it’s tiring.
The new Steidldangin book on the photographer Mario Sorrenti is just the kind of thing if you are in the minutia camp. He’s done enough grandiosity – Calvin Klein campaigns, photos in every imaginable fashion magazine, and so on. But this volume is dedicated to something entirely different – a series of scraps of Sorrenti’s life rendered in visual form.
During the 90s Sorrenti began covering a wall in his loft with random prints, posters, contact sheets and other material gathered throughout his fifteen-year career. It was a diary of his life of sorts, where shots of supermodels mingled with Polaroid self-portraits and photos of random people in varying stages of undress. At some point the accumulation of material gave the wall a life of its own, so much so that in 2004 it became a gallery exhibit.
For the book Sorrenti methodically rephotographed the wall using 8×10 Polaroids. Flipping through it gives you a sense of looking at a puzzle game of someone’s life (spot Kate Moss as Eve for bonus points). The tome is huge and heavy, and, it being a Steidl book, beautifully printed, so, if you are tempted to disassemble it and recreate Sorrenti’s wall in your living room, think twice.
All images are by Mario Sorrenti, courtesy of Steidldangin