Review: Jim Jocoy — Order of Appearance (TBW Books)
North American photographer Jim Jocoy’s visual document of the Bay Area punk scene of the 70s and 80s has been compiled under the volume Order of Appearance, thanks to TBW Books (Oakland) and his previous effort, the long out of print We’re Desperate, (2002, Powerhouse Books). Standing on a car at night; a gogo dancer; a conglomerate of friends squashed into a small space; a figure asleep on the floor; these are all moments Jocoy has captured for us to consider.
These subjects are so intensely alive, living on the edge, perhaps the way many wish to but cannot for a myriad of reasons. Enacted entirely by night, the world that Jocoy presents to us perhaps seems like the most important place that we could never be. Taken with no agenda and in the spirit of the moment, these photographs have lied dormant and unscanned in Jocoy’s personal archive. It is only in the 21st century through the championing of a few key figures and publishers that his work has come to light.
Images of human activity connect with the viewer as they often identify themselves or position themselves against the condition of their subjects. Akin to Jocoy, this can be seen in the work of Antipodean photographers such as William Yang and Carol Jerems, with whom the bulk of their work is clearly situated in a time long since passed. Their work also eludes to an extreme familiarity between photographer and subject. Although predominantly unknown faces, those depicted seem close to us on some uncanny level, a testament to the photographer’s ability to make their own lives and memories intertwined with ours. Often their subjects are so clearly free, so entrapped in the moment, unaware and unafraid, uncritical of themselves. We as observers mirror ourselves or position ourselves elsewhere amongst moments depicting frailty, freedom and the youthful human spirit.
The sense of hedonism present in the work of photographers Ronnie Ellis and more recently Jack Mannix’s Precious Metals project also contributes to this consideration. Throughout these oeuvre's, the moments have since passed, perhaps just be a distant memory for the very people depicted. When one considers these images, we ask: Did the decadence prevail, or was it a fleeting moment? These people seemed to be happy and free in these moments that have now outrun all of us.
The depiction of these figures encapsulate the early days of punk, establishing the sense of intimacy, family and the importance of finding like minds at this crucial stage of life — early youth. The presence of both community and fragility in Nan Goldin’s network of subjects is brought to mind, as Jocoy’s punk ‘family’ lends itself to his practice to capture seemingly private moments, only because there are strong elements of trust, and of course real friendship and familiarity.
As a time capsule of a specific era, this document so clearly encapsulates the conclusion of the 70s and early 80s and contains many notable figures: Lux Interior from the Cramps, Allen Ginsberg, and the seminal band D.N.A.. The most intriguing figures however are those anonymous to us as we glare back from the 21st century.
As well as producing books that are aesthetically beautiful, TBW Books’ mission as publishers seems to be to cover historical epochs that may have been neglected in images. Their “Jazz” series also presents a wide range of photographers documenting San Francisco’s glory days of the music scene and the people within it.
The most striking photo of the book could arguably be a portrait of Jocoy himself, on self timer, at a high perch up above the dawn-breaking city. We see his figure from behind taking it all in, masking a contemplative silhouette. Up all night and surveying the world below, it is recognised that the daytime city works at a totally different rhythm to that of himself and all of his subjects.
Order of Appearance as a document calls to mind all of the underground music and art scenes around the world that are perhaps rising and falling and going undocumented. The book highlights the importance of capturing these people and their practices, as sometimes photographs are all that remain.
Text: Angela Garrick
Jack Mannix, Precious Metals Centre of Contemporary Photography, accessed December 25th, 2017: https://www.ccp.org.au/exhibitions.php?f=20140525_Gallery_2
Perimeter x Heavy is an editorial collaboration exploring contemporary photography, art, design and their various relationships to the published form. Produced in-house by the team at Melbourne-based bookstore, publisher and distribution house Perimeter and Sydney-based photography magazine and online platform The Heavy Collective, Perimeter x Heavy comprises book reviews, interviews, studio visits and features. While further expounding the published output of artists who feature across both Perimeter and Heavy's inventories, the platform aims to provide thoughtful insights into the wider here and now of contemporary publishing practice.