He quietly sips what at 10am is his first coffee of the day. The night before was the launch of his new book, F*cking New York, for which Tamindzic photographed both models and non-models in faux throes of passion with the eponymous city. These women are nude and not nude, vibrant and silly, funny and loud. One woman licks a chest of drawers in nothing but pink high heels, another twists her naked pelvis into the open mouth of a cement lion statue, another hangs her legs out of the window of a black SUV, two more spread their legs across the New York City skyline. They make the pictures, many taken in public all over Manhattan, a sexy, sexual, sophisticated amalgam of not just what it means to love New York, but to f*ck it with reckless abandon. And importantly, none of the pictures are taken at well-known landmarks: they show New York the way a New Yorker sees it, on the street corners and under the street lamps of day-to-day life, very rarely a skyline.
F*cking New York began, in Tamindzic’s words, as “a shower moment”: an epiphanic instance under a spray of water which sent him practically leaping out of the shower to write down the idea. It had been a long time in the making.
“There was a certain kind of photograph that I was taking for several years before that,” he says. “They were a little gloomy and grey, but very self-consciously arty. You know what I mean, like sometimes we go places like that. But there was something interesting there, there was something captivating there.” That day in the shower, however, it all came to a head, so to speak. Once Tamindzic had his concept and title, everything else fell into place. The new images would be a departure from the aforementioned gloom, with “humor deflating the self-seriousness and self-consciousness of it,” Tamindzic says. F*cking New York would be an exploration of the vivacious energy that pulses underneath the city’s asphalt and, frankly, in more than a few of its residents.
It’s an important, joyful juxtaposition from Tamindzic’s own life, of which the first 27 years were spent in war-torn Serbia. After watching his own hometown bombed in a civil war, he picked up and left with an “Okay, I’ve had enough.” Now, at 43, his work in F*cking New York is a celebration of the ecstasy of sex, yes, but also just the sheer ecstasy of life.
The images in F*cking New York, taken over four years, could easily albeit erroneously be dismissed as a male photographer simply having a good time with a bunch of happily naked women. However, the work goes far beyond a surface experience. “I think the previous desire…was about that place like in Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, where you can’t really tell, is it ecstasy? Is it pain? Is it rapture? In all those three cases, it has to do with…having an out of body experience. Like great sex is an out of body experience,” he says. “The way faces expresses all three of those is pretty much exactly the same, they’re very easy to confuse. And that’s what I was pursuing back in the day. And then you take that, you put this layer of humor and fun and just playfulness with this city that we all so adore, and actually have a complicated relationship with, and you get this thing.”
And the book touches not just on that multifaceted New York relationship, but the relationship women are bred to have with their sexuality. “Men were supposed to be a part of this [book],” Tamindzic says, but their photographs ultimately didn’t work out for two big reasons: one, men did not act like they had permission to behave in the sexually frolicking way women did; and two, because when a cop sees a naked woman being photographed in the street in broad daylight, he simply smiles, offers a thumb’s up, and looks the other way. When a cop sees an erection being photographed in broad daylight, everyone–the model, the photographer, and the photographer’s assistant–could be arrested. “I would say that for all the restrictions that are put on women in a lot of ways in our very patriarchal society, there is something about fluidity of women’s sexuality that allows women to do things that are not allowed to men because these things are not ‘manly’ enough,” Tamindzic says.
For each photoshoot, Tamindzic worked with subjects–of all ages, ethnicities, and body types–to get a sense of what they were comfortable doing, how they wanted to express their sexuality and what New York means to them. Prior to each shoot, he would workshop the image with the subject via visuals and mood boards, which helped him make sure he was shooting to each subject’s interests. “I was mostly functioning as a translator,” he says, “finding out on a sort of gut level what they’re about as a person and as a sexual person and translat[ing] that into the visual language of the project.”
Then he would proceed out into the street with only the subject and his assistant, desirous of moving outside of the standard fashion editorial world with stylists and hairstylists and makeup artists and nail technicians all fussing about. Subjects provided their own wardrobe, makeup, and hair and were lit during the day only with natural light bounced off of glass held by his assistant for that same stark geometry of the kind that was falling on the table in the cafe as we spoke.
And now, four years later, F*cking New York will be a book. Tamindzic raised the $24,000 needed to publish the book on Kickstarter after just six days. It will feature writing by artist Molly Crabapple and journalist Sasha Frere-Jones, as well as from several participants from the photographs. It will be 192 pages, in hardcover, and 2/3 of the images will never have been seen by the public before. With two weeks left until the project is funded on June 21, there’s still an opportunity to purchase the book as well.
Tamindzic had trouble finding a publisher for the book in America because of its subject matter and because of the small run he wanted to produce. But, happily, he didn’t find these difficulties in Europe. “One of the [company] reps brought this up, like we print magazines like Fantastic Man and all that, [but] we also do Butt magazine,” he laughs. “And this was the quote, this was the word in an upper middle class, British, educated accent, ‘c*nts, cocks, and asses, all’s fine with us.'” And this way, he can produce the book exactly to his specifications, title and all: the book will be printed in Verona, Italy, at the same location where the Metropolitan Museum of Art has their catalogs printed.
Producing this body of work on his own has led Tamindzic to a wealth of experiences, both professional and personal. Several editors have reached out about his work, some to even reproduce F*cking New York images for their publications. The project has been featured in the likes of Paper magazine, Refinery29, VICE, Maxim, and many others. But Tamindzic also has a greater understanding of what it means to have this experience as a photographer, whether it be what he calls the ethical concerns of asking people to perform actions one hasn’t performed themselves, watching a subject come alive during a shoot, or performing all of these tasks while very much in a public setting.
“There’s no camera if you’re walking by, there’s just a woman,” he says. “And you walk away from it being like, ah, f*cking New York.”