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Kevin Amato: F*ck the Golden Years

Borrowing the title expression from his grandmother, the Dazed collaborator is exhibiting 40 images from his personal archive

A practicing photographer for nearly a decade, Kevin Amato has scattered his work across magazines including Interview, Flaunt and Dazed & Confused, but his new solo expo 'F*ck the Golden Years’ sees it consolidated properly for the first time – a select 40 works to be precise. Opening today at the Casa De Costa Studio Gallery in NYC, the photographer has chosen to showcase images from his commercial and personal portfolios, as well as previously unseen portraits, all of which stress Amato’s talent for smashing up and rearranging the worlds of fashion, art and celebrity.

F*ck The Golden years was something my grandmother, Marie, would always say. She passed away last year. She was a tough cookie, always hustling and funny as fuck

Largely influenced by his experiences living in the Bronx, the gallery’s creative director describes Amato’s photographs as “… like Kevin himself”. “They have a freshness, and sense of humour that is palpably optimistic.”

Dazed Digital: What's the meaning behind the title of the exhibition?
Kevin Amato: F*ck The Golden years was something my grandmother, Marie, would always say. She passed away last year. She was a tough cookie, always hustling and funny as fuck. Loyal, loving, honest with the tongue of her Brooklyn roots. F*ck The Golden Years was her way of saying embrace and live life to the fullest NOW. To be true to yourself and never let a day or minute pass you by.

DD: You cover quite a few subjects in your work, and some photos are almost severe while others are softer, how would you describe your style?
Kevin Amato: I would describe it as reportage. Mood, trust and accessibility dictate a lot in my work. I tend to be a diverse, non-judgmental and spontaneous person, I guess my photos translate that way. I think being versatile, whether shooting commercial or not- is using the same approach. Burring lines of sexuality, socioeconomic status, race and fashion and being present in every photograph.

DD: How did you go about selecting photographs for the exhibition?
Kevin Amato: I wanted to show personal work, images a bit more transparent. And it’s a lovely opportunity to show viewers a deeper look on larger scale prints. In addition I’ll be showing work prints and my photo diaries as well. My gallery, Casa De Costa, and I worked closely curating the show to reflect my life's love and experiences. This is my first solo exhibition- Jason Costa, Josh McNey and Jeremy St Romain who run the gallery taught me a lot, are super supportive and understood that the work was quite personal to me.

DD: Can you tell us an interesting story about any of the images featured?
Kevin Amato:
The image of Jimmy arms extended in the field with the airstreams. We were on our way to Disney World and randomly discovered the buses in the ground. It was a moment and a feeling that could never be recreated.

DD: Who are the people in the photos?
Kevin Amato: Friends, lovers, old friends, ex-lovers, people off the street, family, models and celebrities.

DD: What is it about photographing people half dressed that appeals to you?
Kevin Amato: Just a candid approach that humanises the sitter. A bit spiritual, a bit naughty. I don't plan much before shooting. But I’m conscious to incorporate elements visually beyond "half dressed". Whether it’s irony, humour, emotion, a unique facial or body characteristic, selling fashion, personality and so on.

I can just take a photograph of beautiful "half dressed" person. Or I can take a photograph of a naked dude covering his bits with a one-off Banksy bunny illustrated bowling heels...and business socks…with a broken nose. I'd go with bowling pin and business socks.

DD: What's next?
Kevin Amato: A book project entitled Stay Lovely.

Kevin Amato, F*ck the Golden Years, March 8 – March 3, 2012, Casa De Costa Studio Gallery, 11 Stone Street, 6th Floor