Photographer Laurence Ellis talks about CS Leigh, a man somewhere between an imposter, a fugitive and a performance art.
"I think we are all on some levels fascinated, and maybe slightly envious of these “catch me if you can” characters, such as CS, who have the ability to just disappear and start again; to reinvent. I liked him. There was something strangely infectious about his personality and he was quite entertaining at times. I never really saw him as malicious in his actions, even though history had judged him very differently. It was as though nothing else mattered, as long as what he perceived as his Art was achieved: the future idea excused any preceding action to achieve the final product. As an artist, you can’t help but admire about this determination and disregard for society’s rules. It’s clear that image isn't everything; often far from it, only a small part of the whole. I’m a little more careful now about replying to emails from strangers."
Photographer Laurence Ellis spent a year corresponding by email with CS Leigh, a man who he knew was somewhere between an imposter, a fugitive and a performance artist. Having dressed actresses for the Academy Awards in the early Eighties, by the early Nineties Leigh had worked his way through the art world in the guises of a curator, art dealer and former editor of Art Forum, always leaving clues in the slight variations of his name for attentive observers to notice. In 2000, he became a filmmaker associated with the Dogme school, and in 2008 for reasons unknown to Ellis, he got in touch with an idea to work together on a menswear story to be shot in Paris and shown at Frieze, with clothes designed exclusively by Lanvin. Here Ellis talks about the elusive character whose emails he has documented with the photographs from the shoot in a book called No Show, and who he invited to the book launch to perform, but he never came.
Interview by Agata Belcen
Printed in an individually numbered limited edition of 500 copies.
Until the end of March, No Show will be stocked exclusively at Colette in Paris and bStore in London.