We’ve Come So Far - The Last Days of Death by Audio is a photo book about the 75 day long closing party held during the last days of the DIY music venue Death by Audio, which was located in New York. The photo book is made by Ebru Yildiz, a NY-based music and portrait photographer.
Ebru and I have exchanged thoughts on music photography through the Internet over the years, and have a mutual respect for each others’ work. I sent her my two first photo books some years ago, and she recently returned the favor by sending me her first book.
The book is offset-printed and self-published, a combination which requires a special kind of bravery. Not only do you need to pay thousands of dollars up front for the book press, but you also need to store the books somehow. And market and sell them. Offset printing is the cheaper the more you print, so you can’t just print small editions.
The book begins quite appropriately with photographs of the space itself, as if to introduce it as a character. This works well because the venue had a lot of personality: murals, graffiti and various art pieces are everywhere. And of course the festival depicted by most of the book is held in part to celebrate the space and what it represented.
The rest of the book contains documentary shots of the residents, musicians, and audience of the festival. The photos are all black-and-white, with an emphasis on emotion and feeling over technical perfectionism: most of the photos are grainy, and some are not perfectly sharp, evoking the feel of film era rock and punk photography. Especially the concert shots - featuring often both members of the audience with the performer - are raw and full of energy, just like I imagine the performances must have been. Very rock-and-roll.
The viewpoint Ebru gives us is that of an insider: we’re in the middle of the action rather than observing from the sidelines. This is no doubt due to Ebru’s long time involvement with the venue and its people.
The underlying theme of the book seems to be human connectedness. This comes through form how couples and friends embrace, how audience members interact with each others and the musicians, how the people are smiling at the photographer (or the viewer) and looking straight into the camera, and how the space connects its regulars. You can see very clearly the community that has formed around the space.