In New and Used Marc Joseph presents a loving series of images taken in used book and record stores. They're clearly the work of someone who has spent serious time flipping through dusty stacks of LPs and paperbacks. The photographs examine records and books as physical representations of the works they contain, while also mining the very personal bonds we share with them. Recently, these photographs were collected in a book of the same name and sequenced with fiction, poetry, and personal essays by Jonathan Lethem, Eileen Myles, Thurston Moore, and others. When I talked to Joseph last week, he told me about the project and how, for him, "the writing is as integral to it as the pictures."
MERCURY: How did the project begin?
MARC JOSEPH: I've always hung out in book and record stores. This was a way to keep hanging out in book and record stores.
And get some work done.
Yeah, with my camera. The idea was about more than just the spaces. It was very much about the physicality of books and records. A lot of my education came from handling these things and spending time with them and the information they contain. There is, of course, a physical representation of the information within, but also the physical trace of the artists or writers or musicians.
Are you an avid book and record collector?
I'm an avid book and record purchaser and owner. I don't know that I have anything terribly valuable, but I do have a lot of books that are signed by writers and artists that I know, that I've met or that I've worked with. So in that respect, I do collect those things in a very personal way.
Since the relationship between records and books is so personal, it's interesting that these pictures are conspicuously absent of people.
Early on in the project, I had done some portraiture in these places, but it wasn't working for me. As the book came together, I began to realize that the voices of the writers who contributed to the project, the characters they created, and the feelings they articulated actually began to populate these spaces.