This portfolio appears in VICE Magazine's 2019 Photo Issue. With this issue we wanted to celebrate the absurd, the lighthearted, and the humorous. It’s important to take a break from the real world. As much as we need to be informed, engaged, and aware, we also need to laugh. We wanted to champion the people making art with a sense of humor. In today’s climate, there’s something nicely subversive about that. You can read more about our theme in the letter from our editor.
Photographer and professional skateboarder Jerry Hsu is no stranger to the VICE photo issue, having appeared it in regularly over the years. His work, which has also been featured in the New York Times Magazine and exhibited around the world, captures the everyday absurdities of life—a single log with the word “FREE” spray painted on it, a pair of jeans labeled “Daddy’$ Money,” a billboard with the words “SYPHILIS EXPLOSION” set against a backdrop of an erupting volcano.
The images featured in this year’s photo issue are from Hsu’s second photo book The Beautiful Flower Is the World, which is being published by Anthology Editions and comes out later this month. The series began in 2007 and uses a variety of BlackBerry smartphones. Hsu says the work “revolves around using poor-quality cellphone images to communicate with other artists and friends. The title comes directly from an image of a T-shirt made in China of an English phrase degraded through mistranslation. We find humor in that accidental, small tragedy and feel compelled to share it. The series explores the compulsion to collect those everyday moments, combined with the technology that allows for its instant digital distribution.”
Jerry Hsu’s second book, The Beautiful Flower Is the World, is out now from Anthology Editions.