Dog Day Afternoon
An office favorite—we profiled him in Issue 07—Pigozzi is no stranger to the creative world and has spent much of his life collecting art and working in environmental philanthropy. Ahead of tomorrow’s event, office caught up with the photographer to discuss his latest book, his hate-affair with kale and his lifetime practice. Pull up to the signing tomorrow and read our interview, below.
How are Charles and Saachi today?
Sadly, I don't know because they are in the South of France, not with me.
In the foreword of your new book, the actual Charles Saatchi writes that he would love to be reincarnated as the offspring of one of your dogs—that way he could live with you and hang out forever. I love that. So, if you had to be reincarnated as an animal, which would you pick?
Well, obviously one of my dogs, because they have a fabulous life! They have nothing to do all day long; they have a big park; they have nice people who take care of them and they don’t have a job like sniffing for bombs or guarding people. Their job is nothing—just eating, sleeping and walking around.
That sounds like the perfect schedule to me.
Yeah, it's a good job. Flexible hours.
So, you would not want to be a wild animal?
Oh no! You have to hunt for your food. Here, you get fed twice a day and even more, because when I'm there, they hang around at the dinner table and hope that someone will gonna give them something. So, a wild animal? That’s a big job because you have to hunt all day long for food, and at night, they don’t have a warm place to sleep. So, no, a wild animal would be no good.
The photographs in your new book are beautiful. They remind me of Daido Moriyama’s work with the striking black and white contrast. What made you want to shoot the project in that style?
Well, black and white is not the real world—the real world is in color. So, it adds another dimension of bizarreness as we don't see the world in black and white. And I also think shooting them in black and white made the pictures stronger. They're very graphic. I thought they were more like etchings—the blacks are more black. And I rarely take pictures in color—very rarely. 99 percent of the photographs I’ve taken have been in black and white. My world is black and white.
Do you have any other pets that you have photographed or would like to photograph in the future?
No. I always took pictures of my dogs, but these two dogs were so playful when they were kids and now, that really everyday we would spend like ten minutes together and then they would get tired of me taking pictures. Every morning around 11, we had a little show and I think they were really performing for me. Now, they're older and I tried to take some pictures but they weren't interested anymore.
Did you have to coach them to have that level of energy?
No, no they were playing really hard. I had to do nothing. They look like they're angry, but they're actually playing. So, I had nothing to do—they would do it themselves and there was no encouragement or anything. I think they even liked the flash—I think it amused them to see it.
You're also known for pioneering the celebrity selfie. Have you taken any selfies with famous people recently?
Now that I finished my other book, ME + CO, I’m a little less nervous about taking pictures, but I can't remember the last one I did. I know I missed one yesterday. There was the Italian singer, [Andrea] Bocelli but I missed him—he walked past me and I didn't react. He was across the street with like, three other guys.
Is there anyone out there that you would like to take a photograph with that you haven't yet?
I wouldn't mind Putin. And I wouldn't mind some beautiful actresses. Some of these actresses that I don't know that are very beautiful. Lady Gaga. I like Beyonce. And some of these very rough rappers if they would invite me to chill with them. I would like to take pictures of them. But if not, maybe some famous scientist that I don't know. There are always people I’m interested in.
So, ME + CO is sort of an ongoing project?
Eventually, I will do part two of the book. It took like, 20 or 30 years to do the first one.
You’re kind of like me as a photographer. I always walk around with my camera and photograph my life as it happens. There are many of us out there that do the same thing, but why do you think that is? Why do we have this compulsion to photograph our experiences? Not everyone does that.
More people are doing it now, but they do it with their iPhone. So, they photograph every meal they eat, every time their child pees, every time their dogs sniffs a piece of grass, every time a boyfriend of girlfriend puts on a bikini—they take a picture. Everytime they have a pizza, they take a picture. But the reason I always took pictures is because I’m quite dyslexic and I also have terrible handwriting, and sometimes, when I write notes I can't read what I write. So, it was a way to document my entire life.
But I’ll tell you one thing: if I go to a party and I'm not allowed to take photographs, I’m bored. That happens less and less. So, if you seek pictures with your eyes, keep on looking for something. Like, if I’m on the streets, I’m looking for something weird or different. It keeps me busy all the time.
How serious are you about kale? On Instagram you seem to really like it.
Well, I had it once and thought it was the most disgusting thing in the world. So, I decided to fight kale with all of my energy. But I was hoping that all the people who grow kale would come and say, ‘Here's a million dollars, stop speaking about kale,’ or the people who grow spinach would say, ‘Here's a million dollars, could you please promote spinach?’ But none of the above has happened.
Not yet, at least.
It's really funny because I see people in the street who say, ‘Oh hello Mr. Kale, how are you Mr. Kale?’ It's really funny—we invented something funny.
Is there any kale recipe or dish you would ever want to eat?
No way. I tried kale chips and it’s all disgusting. It should be banned. Also quinoa—that’s horrible. I don't like these fashionable things that just pop out of nowhere. Like, I don't do juicing.
What are your top two go-to foods?
Häagen-Dazs coffee ice cream is number one, and a good veal milanese. But it has to be very thinly sliced.
Right. So, you have the selfie project that’s ongoing, but other than that, do you have anything that’s brewing in terms of photography or another creative pursuit?
I’m doing a lot of nature videos. Things like that, that I will be showing in the next year or two because they take a lot of time to do. And I'm still taking pictures everyday. But they take a long, long time. All of my projects take like, three or four years, but I do a few at a time.
With your nature work, are you photographing people?
No. Just animals and trees. It’s completely different from what I've been doing—it has nothing to do with people. I have a place in Panama, so I mainly do them in the jungle there.
And what about Charles and Saatchi The Dogs—what was your experience photographing them, since you’re so used to working with people?
I just want to thank my dogs for being so cooperative with me—they could’ve run away. I don't know how to thank them—I mean, I gave them some biscuits and all of that. But they really were fabulous. And just seeing them play together and work together—it's really fun.
‘Charles and Saatchi The Dogs’ will be available at the office Newsstand starting tomorrow. Come at 6PM to get your hands on copy of the book. Limited quantities will be available, so be sure to arrive early.