Photographic duo reaches for digital absurdity

By: Daniel Fabiani

Hexed and Vexed are on a mission to take over the New York City photography scene one distorted image at a time.

The duo say that they don’t seek out their subjects, rather their subjects just come to them.

They arm themselves with digital cameras, the need to dress in ornate clothing, and the passion to capture raw nightlife and urban decay.

From decadent nightclubs to gaudy thoroughfares throughout the city, Hexed and Vexed see your average individual or crumbling landscape of any shape or age, and find something special about it with an unsuspecting click of their camera.

They freeze moments in time such as the way teeth glimmer at night, to the ridiculous drunken dance moves of nightclub patrons, and everything in between.

The pair plays with shutter speeds to make light spiral in their photos, they don’t ask for poses, and they shoot in almost all black and white to eliminate any reference to time.

“Our photos mimic absurdness, and that’s not a thing you can just catch. We love the editing process, it makes the photos more personal,” said John Zinonos, the Hexed of Hexed and Vexed.

Their name is well known in the underground, in the obscure New York City club scene, and by many young people who are interested in in obscure photos.

“People say ‘oh look it’s Hexed and Vexed.’ It’s like we don’t have names anymore, just Hexed and Vexed,” said Micaela Mclucas, the Vexed of Hexed and Vexed.

They said that breaking into the scene has been rough, but that’s with any art form. Thanks to the Internet, Facebook and word of mouth, they have been able to achieve a notable underground status.

Traditionally, art photography has been performed on film and developed in dark rooms. Hexed and Vexed certainly do not use such a process, they take advantage of the digital age.

When the pair sits back and looks at the photos that they took the night before, they tear a photo apart and look for subtle things to obscure such as blurring a simple line or changing hue to reflect the feelings of the photo, rather than the subjects that are being photographed.

Traditional photography does not allow itself to do that. The old “silver photos,” (the term for traditional developing) cannot be played with to alter time and space, color or clarity.

“Film is old and time based. We would like to break that tradition,” said Mclucas.

Mclucas, 22 and Zinonos, 21, are young enough to be juggernauts with their art because the scene is thirsty for new talented youth to breakthrough. Their tastes, made up of a mixture of their personalities and traditional training from their college educations.

Zinonos’ style ventures on the dark, an obvious influence from his Queens upbringing, while Mclucas’s taste tends to be whimsical, a clear sign of her traveling past from having family in Argentina and Los Angeles.  And now she’s a permanent New Yorker.

The two instantly hit it off after mentioning how they met at a random party in Manhattan, wowing one another after a long, distorted conversation of one another’s work.

“We came together as two tastes who instantly got one another. And New York has influenced that as well since it is a dark and whimsical place to live,” said Mclucas at a recent interview in a SOHO espresso bar.

Though Hexed and Vexed see traditional photography as old and inflexible, there are still people who still stick to the basics when it comes to photography.

One of those people is Dr. Sandra Krashkin of the CUNY Mishkin Gallery located near Baruch College. Dr. Krashkin runs the gallery, is a photographer herself and has her MFA in photography.

Dr. Krashkin has not seen Hexed and Vexed’s work, but has seen many digital images come and go in her gallery.

“Tradition is important to keep, but I like digital photography. It’s a sign of the times,” said Krashkin.

By spring 2011 Hexed and Vexed are planning to unveil their first formal showing of their photos. Zinonos is a student at Hunter College and trying to find space on campus for the showing.

Video: Interview with the photographers

“We love to see people’s reactions to our art. They tell us that they are only photos, but we assure them that what they are looking at is the next step of photography and art,” said Mclucas.

“If we don’t break into the scene with a crunch then we can’t break into the scene at all,” said Zinonos.