"I was a tomboy and certainly a feminist from a young age," says photographer Sarah Piantadosi, "When I was a kid I wanted to work for Greenpeace!" However, growing up in Winnipeg, Canada, means that she had access to CBC Television: the channel that aired Tim Blanks' Fashion File, a TV show that covered fashion industry news. "I was totally fascinated and mesmerised by it," she explains. "But these feelings towards fashion were at odds with my personal sense of identity and were incredibly confusing." However, conflicting as it may have been to a young tomboy, the trajectory of Piantadosi's career shifted and, once she entered high school and picked up a camera, she was set on her path to become a fashion photographer.
However her newest project, Milk Jagger, is a zine (and will become an exhibition at Doomed Gallery later this month) that explores a different side to her aesthetic, and a liberation from the confines of fashion photography. "The editorial world in fashion is increasingly governed by commerce," she explains. "Its no longer a free space for photographers, so its only natural to look for alternative ways to express yourself. I love Kembra Pfahler's philosophy of 'availabism,' which is about being an artist creating work with what is available to you. You don't have to have the best paper stock, the best camera or a ton of money; just do what you can." So, after taking a course in self publishing with Self Publish, Be Happy, she did.
The resulting series celebrates – and parodies – a hyper-masculine, eighties homoeroticism of Lethal Weapon (whose quotes intersect the images) and A.A. Bronson. Focused on the 'Milk Jagger' alter-ego of musician Michael B. Wallace, a sleazy LA cop, Piantadosi says that she "wanted to create a tension between the physical attractiveness of Mike, and the despicable nature of this fantasy character he created; the [Lethal Weapon] quotes have been recontexualized to create a sleazy, homoerotic tale of coercion." And, in spite of this sinister undercurrent, what emerges from the zine is a brilliantly modern reworking of a renowned queer movement; a revival of a counter-cultural aesthetic that scarcely finds its way into print media in 2015. It is proudly louche, revels in sleaze and is thus deeply refreshing in a time where the sterility of an Instagram filter is permeating modern sexuality from all angles. "I like to fantasise that someone like A.A. Bronson or Bruce La Bruce might jerk off looking at these images," Piantadosi laughs – and, brilliantly, that idea doesn't seem too fantastical.
Milk Jagger runs at Doomed Gallery, 65/67 Ridley Road, London, E8 2NP from October 27th 2015. The zine is available to purchase in a limited edition of 100 copies, signed and numbered.