Volume 80, Number 8 | July 22 - 28, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Paparazzo Diary

Villager photo by Clayton Patterson

The run-down sidewalks outside the Columbia St. Key Food have caused many injuries, residents say.

The art of Kim Kardashian: Actually, she gets it

By J.B. Nicholas

What does it mean to be an “American” these days?

I’m pondering this weighty thought after having caught up with — of all people — Kim Kardashian the other week. K² and her clan were in town to celebrate Kim’s elevation to the Parthenon of wax immortality at Madame Tussauds, and to shoot scenes for their reality TV show, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” K², for those of you at a loss, is famous for being famous. In other words, she’s an American celebutante who springboarded to pop stardom on the strength of the unique size and shape of her ass, to be blunt, as well as a leaked homemade sex tape.

Americans, apparently, have a thing for asses.

It would be easy to conjure cynical, cruel things to say about K², but why bother? That’s what FOX news is for. Instead, allow me to take a moment to ponder the idea that a person, a woman, can become famous, truly famous in the traditional sense, simply for having an ass that everyone would like to get their hands on, literally. Gone are the time-honored criteria of being honorable, honest, courageous and loyal. In their stead stand an equation, 36-24-36, or, worse, misspelled slang, “phatt,” as in “she’s got a phatty!”

Shoot me now.

I guess that’s not really new. Being the object of attraction is what being a sex symbol is all about, and we’ve had sex symbols about as long as we’ve had sex, right? Or at least since the Fifties!

That being said, K² was a pleasure to “work with” in the weird paparazzi way I mean it. There are stars who make it difficult if not impossible to “make art” with. Allow me to explain. As a photojournalist, I strive not just to capture particular, poignant moments of time, but to do so in artful manner. Sometimes it can be done, sometimes it can’t. What you need in order to make art is, if not a willing subject, one that doesn’t resist too forcefully. You don’t have to pose for me, that’s not what I want. Be yourself, just don’t try to hide from my lens too much. A little is O.K., but too much makes it impossible to adjust the camera settings in the way they need to be set in order a make art. A picture is produced, that’s all.

After following K² around for a day, I get the sense that she understood the difference between mere pictures and art, that she realized taking a few seconds to look up from whatever it was she was doing for a moment, or to look at me, would make all the difference. I got the sense that she was working with me, in a minimal way, not working against me. And it was cool. It felt like there was some connection, however fleeting, between us, between my camera and her face. It was the first time I felt that link, the first time I chased someone around for a day and made not just pictures but real art.



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