Ryan McGinley’s Yearbook Shut Down an Entire City Block
A week ago, on a balmy Sunday evening in downtown Manhattan, a photography show shut down an entire city block. It was the New York edition of Ryan McGinley’s Yearbook
installation at Team Gallery, where vivid and hedonistic portraits of beautiful youngsters have been wallpapered to every surface in the gallery. I saw a similar exhibition
of McGinley’s Yearbook
pictures in San Francisco last fall, but this new show takes the installation to an even more elaborate and all-encompassing level, coating every surface of the gallery in glossy, chromatic youth-beauty, so that not an inch of white wall remains. The photos, shot over the last 5 years in McGinley’s Chinatown studio, picture sweethearts of the downtown art scene, and everyone looks like they’re having fun. The air is getting colder, so back-to-school vibes are strong, and this seems like the perfect time to be looking at photos called Yearbook. VICE asked Ryan a few questions to find out more.
VICE: How many photos are in the exhibition?
Ryan McGinley: The show has over 700 photographs stuck on the walls. Most people have two different photos from their studio shoot.
How many years did it take you to shoot all the portraits for Yearbook?
The project has taken 5 years. I’ve shot peoples portraits ever month for it in my Chinatown studio in NYC since 2009.
Where did the idea to totally cover the gallery walls come from?
I’ve always loved how street advertisements in NYC are wheat pasted on top of each other. I talked with a guy late one night who was doing it and he explained the process to me.
Who are the people in the photographs?
Everyone I shoot is part of downtown’s creative community. Painters, Musicians, Dancers, Writers, Sculptors or Photographers. Those are the people that understand what I do and are excited to pose nude for me.
What’s a typical studio shoot like?
I really love to have people lay on the floor and slowly move around, there is something so intimate about being on the ground together. Then we pick up the pace and the model gets to choose three songs they love to jam out to and we dance. Sometimes we break out the mini trampoline and jump around in circles on it. I’ve also got a treadmill that we’ve cut the guardrails off of and people run on that. I love collecting old beat up chairs that get thrown out from the streets of Chinatown. I’ve got a collection of them that models sit on, they’ve got character.