The photography exhibition “Younger Than I’ll Be” opens today at BAMart in Brooklyn and runs through May 23. Curated by Skye Parrott, it includes works by Jack Pierson, David Armstrong, Larry Clark and Weegee, to name but a few. Parrott is a photographer in her own right, as well as the creative director of Dossier Magazine, Dossierjournal.com and a woman about town. I caught up with Parrott — who is as lovely as she is busy — to talk about the new show, the new iPad and New York when she was young.
Q.What was your inspiration for putting together this show?
A.When BAM first asked me to curate a show, I knew I wanted it to be a photography show and I knew I wanted it to be about New York. I kind of thought it was going to be a broad survey, showing New York in some of its many incarnations. But when I started putting images together, I found that what I was doing was building a picture of New York as it was when I was growing up. I wanted to talk about how the city felt in the late ’80s in early ’90s, and how it felt to be a kid and then a teenager here. It’s a place and a time I have a lot of nostalgia for.
Tell me about the photographers that you have chosen to include — it is a pretty broad selection artistically speaking, ranging from Weegee to Nan Goldin.
I started with photographs that were quintessentially New York for me. Having worked with Nan Goldin for so long, I know her work inside and out, and she’s been so influential to my work that I couldn’t imagine doing a show about New York without including her. I also thought almost immediately of Larry Clark’s “Kids” stills, Robert Longo’s “Men in the Cities” and my mother’s photograph of the kids in the fire hydrant. Beyond that, I wanted to include photographers whose work I feel strongly about and who feel like New York to me. A lot of photographers in the show have contributed to Dossier, and they’re all people whose work I really admire.
Dossier is your biannual fashion, arts and literature magazine and Web site. Will we be able to see an iPad version soon?
We just started working with a new team of Web developers, so we’ve been discussing a lot of things, including the iPad. We’re in the process right now of relaunching our Web site, and once that’s done we’re going to start thinking about other digital initiatives.
Back to the show: what are some of the standout images that you would like to share with the Moment readers?
Some of my personal favorites are Cass Bird’s image of girls flashing on the F.D.R., my mother’s photograph of kids playing in a fire hydrant in the late 1970s, and Robert Longo’s black and white “Men in the Cities” photographs. I think they were originally studies for the drawings, but as photographs they’re really incredible.
Are there any other photography shows that you would recommend seeing right now?
There are two photo shows that are up right now that I haven’t seen yet but would love to: the Lisette Model show at the Jeu de Paume in Paris and “Haunted” at the Guggenheim. I also really loved the Robert Bergman show at Yossi Milo that recently closed.
What’s on the horizon for you — what is next after “Younger Than I’ll Be” closes?
I have two shows of my own work coming up this year — one this summer at the Dublin Photo Festival, which is going to be a slide show, and then later in the year I have my first solo show in New York at Capricious Gallery. I’ve been working on that a lot and I suspect it’s going to take up a lot of brain space until it goes up this fall. I also have a show I’m curating later in the year out in L.A. And we’re just getting started working on the new issue of Dossier.
What is the most important thing we need to know about you?
After working as Nan Goldin’s studio manager and as an editor at Self Service, photographer Skye Parrott returned home from Paris and decided to launch a magazine with her best friend, Katherine Krause. The result was Dossier, a biannual journal that has since spawned an airy Fort Greene shop of the same name. The large glossy, which mixes fashion, art, and writing, allows Parrott the freedom to shoot a variety of subjects and clothes, all the while staying true to her beautiful, intimate style of photography. We sat down with Parrott to talk about taking pictures, her seventies style, and the classic allure of a Chanel purse.
What’s the idea behind Dossier?
What we ended up with was the idea of a file (dossier means file in French), a collection of all these different artists, writers, fashion designers, illustrators that we found interesting, all presented in no particular order.
Who or what are your favorite subjects to photograph?
I most like to take pictures of people I know well — to photograph them again and again. That being said, some of my favorite pictures I’ve taken are of people I don’t know, so I think given the right circumstances, I can find something interesting to photograph in most anybody.
How about favorite fashion looks to shoot?
I really like to tell a story when I shoot, and the clothes are what you use to build those characters. Depending on what the story is, it could be ballgowns or bathing suits.
What kind of pieces do you carry at the Dossier shop?
We wanted the store to feel like a physical extension of the magazine, so we carry all the same things the magazine deals with — fashion, art, literature, jewelry, design objects. My partner, Katherine, does the buying for the clothes, but basically anything we find interesting is fair game. For the new clothes and jewelry, we try to focus on young local designers, like Electric Feathers and Duskin. Katherine had a serious vintage habit before we had the store, so now she just has an outlet for it. We carry vintage YSL, Norma Kamali, and Sonia Rykiel.
How do you describe your personal style?
Much to my husband’s chagrin, I have to say that the seventies are a big influence. I like peacoats, high-waisted pants, and leather boots. Paris was definitely a big influence, so I also like anything really classic, really basic, anything that you can wear forever. I’m not really into sneakers or being too dressed down, and I’ve always worn a lot of black. Dark blue and dark gray are what pass for color in my closet.
What pieces or labels do you wear most?
I tend to find something I love and wear it until I’m totally sick of it, like my Phillip Lim winter coat and a black Chanel bag that I wear constantly. I also have a Pamela Love talon necklace that I’ve been wearing every day for the past six months. My favorites are pieces that can be dressed up or down and look good no matter what you wear them with.
What was the first designer item you bought or wore?
The one that stands out is an embroidered, black Comme des Garçons coat that I got for my 23rd birthday. I was living in Paris with my boyfriend at the time and I didn’t have any money, so when I saw it in this thrift store, I didn’t buy it. He somehow found the money to go back and get it for my birthday. I think before then I had a really pragmatic attitude towards clothes and their function — I didn't really get how transformative and fun wearing clothes could be.
Who are some of your favorite designers?
Yves Saint Laurent when he was designing, vintage Sonia Rykiel, Zac Posen, Alexander Wang, Karl Lagerfeld, Phillip Lim, [and] my friend Yara’s line, Nomia. I also own a lot of APC.
What is an item you can’t live without?
I wear jeans most every day in the winter (and not at all in the summer), so I definitely need good jeans. Also, since it’s getting cold, a big, woolly hat.
Where do you shop most for clothes in NYC?
Since our store is right downstairs from my apartment, I mostly shop there! But I also really love Stuart & Wright, Jumelle, and Oak. And I love sample sales.
Is there an item you are currently coveting?
I just wore these tan-and-black Chanel boots for a photo shoot, and I’ve been thinking about them ever since. And there’s this black, hooded APC coat that I’ve been eyeing as a replacement for the Phillip Lim one I’ve killed.
What’s something every girl should own?
Without question, a Chanel purse. It is the most versatile thing I own and it only looks better the older it gets. Plus, they’ll always fix it if it breaks.
Finish this sentence: I never leave the house without … My BlackBerry (unfortunately).