Lisa Kereszi '95


, Photographs by Lisa Kereszi '95 and essay by Lynn Tillman, Damiani Press, 2008

When Rudolph Giuliani's administration cracked down on Times Square strip clubs in the 1990s, a whole new burlesque movement was born in New York, concentrating less on the strip and more on the tease. The young New York photographer Lisa Kereszi, then an assistant to Nan Goldin, was there with her camera to catch it all happening. She began by shooting Show World, a club that was in the process of being closed down by the new laws. In her flash, Kereszi caught abandoned lockers, dressing rooms filled with old shoes and costumes and the grimy elegance of the empty theater--which was never meant to be seen by the light of day. Simultaneously, she began to photograph the new burlesque scene--which went underground in the late 1990s and has since evolved into a conceptually sophisticated, funny and rebellious medium. More pinup than porn, in just a few years, the new burlesque is no longer invisible, and has been gleefully appropriated into mainstream culture by way of Hollywood and the print media. A graduate of Yale University's MFA program, Kereszi's editorial work has appeared in books and magazines, including the New York Times Magazine, Nest, Harper's, Wallpaper, the New Yorker, and GQ; she is represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York.

Fun and Games, photographs by Lisa Kereszi '95 (Nazraeli Press, 2009)

The work in Lisa Kereszi's new monograph, titled after the name of a Jersey Shore arcade and the Ancient Roman wrestling phrase, It's all fun and games, until someone loses an eye,' documents the artist's self-described obsession with what is hidden behind the facades of strip clubs, haunted houses, nightclubs, bars, and other places of fantasy and entertainment. 'I look for places where fantasy falls short upon closer inspection,' Kereszi says. 'When you look at a nocturnal place in the light of day, it looks strange and uncanny. Reality becomes surreal. I look at those banal details that I find (a rip or tear, some dirt, a crack) with a documentary, deadpan view, but colored with emotion and desire and a longing for something beyond.' Kereszi's images are devoid of participants, allowing the viewer to look at what people discard or reject, or are in denial about, and focus on that. Lisa Kereszi's work is included in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Brooklyn Museum of Art; and the Study Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. This first edition of Fun and Games is limited to 750 casebound copies.