Fucking New York with Nikola Tamindzic and His Lustful Models

FUCKING NEW YORK is the title of the new NSFW coffee-table art photography book by acclaimed photographer Nikola Tamindzic. Often shocking, funny and intimate, the work straddles a fine line between pornography and art. At its core, however, FUCKING NEW YORK is a psychological investigation into feminine desire and the power of the Big Apple. Nikola explains:

"Just the way the city is built, with its tall gleaming frightening buildings that are masculine and feminine at the same time... You can project your sexuality onto it."

Having lived all over the world (he harkens from the former Yugoslavia), Nikola has yet to find a city where its citizenry has as intimate a relationship with their town as do New Yorkers.

According to Nikola, "It’s like being in some sort of weird co-dependent, slightly abusive, really intoxicating relationship, and you wish sometimes you can break it, but you can’t." (Anybody who has to ride the L train into the city every day knows exactly what he’s talking about...)

Konbini chatted with Nikola about his process and some of the motivations underlying his artwork:

KONBINI: Who influences you as a photographer?

NIKOLA TAMINDZIC: It was kind of a sideways roundabout thing and I always felt that my bigger influences were outside of photography. I don’t even mean in visual arts. I would listen to a record and go: "Man, I wish I could take pictures that make you feel like this record does." I was very inspired by certain noir aspects of records like Suede’s Dog Man Star or Bryan Ferry’s Boys and Girls.

And then certain painters were an influence, like Giorgio de Chirico, who did a lot of these enigmatic empty Mediterranean plazas. As a kid, that feeling kind of crept in.

As for photographers, I’ve heard Helmut Newton’s name thrown my way many times. I love Helmut, of course, and he was a great influence when it comes to mixing drama and humor, as was David Lynch.

Francesca Woodman is a big deal to me. We have no visual overlap at all, but she taught me something about women that I can’t say that I knew before. And I still find it hard to put in words but, you know, there’s just this kind of "Oh, that’s what it feels like [to be a woman]."

What’s the line between art and pornography? Is there even such a thing?

It's the intent. It’s in the why you’re doing it, which determines a bunch of other important things, not least of all who you work with, and how you work with them. I’m more interested in art than pornography, but so much art that deals with sex and sexuality is just so fucking dry, metaphorically and literally.God forbid you’d experience a gut reaction, you know?

There’s nothing wrong with being turned on by a piece of art.

There’s nothing wrong with being turned on by a piece of art. That said, my favorite response is a feeling of slight confusion — the feeling of an unexpected button being pushed, but not quite understanding why and how.

Fucking New York focuses on women’s sexual agency: what are we so scared about when it comes to female sexuality? What’s so scary to so many people (in art and in life) about a woman whose purpose isn’t just to service a lover, but who seeks out, and experiences, life and pleasure on her own terms? That is the center point here.

It is not the female body as observed by a man, the focus is on female sexuality and female pleasure itself. I don’t think in art you see too much of female pleasure in and of itself, there’s usually a man who is being pleased by the woman or the woman is pleasing herself for the pleasure of a man. In Fucking New York, if you swap out the man and you put the city itself as the protagonist (the city can be male or female), then what is left is the pure female pleasure.

Was there ever any public reaction during the shoots, did anybody freak out? Were you nervous about the cops?

It took a couple of shoots to realize that as long as we’re not being completely obnoxious, we’re gonna be fine. Cops would just drive by and give us the thumbs-up. New Yorkers are always in a rush to get someplace else, and never gave us more than a passing glance, probably mumbling "fucking New York" under their breath.

How did you pull off that shot with the girl on top of the cop car? Did you get permission to do that or did you just go for it?

That’s actually a good example of us being completely obnoxious. My friend, actor Catherine Corcoran, lives near the police parking lot and she suggested we do something fuck the police-themed. We got the shot in 20 seconds, but we still kept going and going for far longer than we should’ve as if we wanted to get caught.

Tell us why there are no naked men in your book?

Men were absolutely intended to be an integral part of the book. Even now, I can picture all the dudes going at it with the city, but the shoots we did just weren't working, and about two years into the project I had to give up and move on.

There were some subtle reasons for this, and the really big, obvious one: remember that story about getting thumbs-up from passing cops? Now picture a naked man with a hard-on humping a lamppost. We’d all be in a police van within five seconds, and my model would get slapped with a sex offender tag for life.

Are you marketing towards men, women or both? What kind of woman would buy this book?

It’s a really interesting question. The kind of woman who would buy it is most likely the same kind of woman who would’ve participated in it — the kind of woman who simply gets it. Looking through my stats at the moment, it looks like a 50/50 split between men and women, which makes me really happy.

What makes New York City “sexually attractive” in comparison to, let’s say, the countryside, suburbia or Philadelphia?

It’s what New York stands for — the myth of New York as a place where your wishes come true: "If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere," and so on. You could say this myth itself is actually New York’s greatest product ever.

Written by Andrew Arnett. Originally published in Konbini.