Take a Walk Through NYC's Subcultures With AboveGround
If you’ve been desperately looking for a new filmmaker and photographer to obsess over, meet AboveGround—AKA, your exclusive visual ticket into the raucous world of NYC’s subversive subcultures.
Preferring to stay anonymous, AboveGround uses a pseudonym when publishing his work, whether it be a sick music video he recently directed, or his grungy, grainy photos. His candid and effortless shots hold a unique, spur-of-the-moment quality no matter the subject (which often include drugs, tattoos, and of course—cold, hard cash).
Milk had the opportunity to chat with the artist himself about his inspirations, his creative and stylistic choices, and his opinions on the debate on film versus digital. Make sure to check out the gallery above to get a taste of his work, and don’t forget to read our Q&A with *the* AboveGround himself.
How did you get started as a photographer?
Photography in my life happened by accident. I just seemed to be stupid enough to spend all my savings on a camera kit with absolutely no knowledge about what I’m getting myself into. It all began when I started documenting my graffiti activities, then explored new horizons in the hip hop scene and ended up as a pseudonym AboveGround. I shoot a lot videos too, like a lot a lot.
Who would you say your biggest creative influences are? Are there any photographers or artists you look up to?
My main source of inspiration is usually music, everything I do overall is very music-orientated.
I don’t really have a creative influence or an idol but there’s a few names that I’d like to mention when it comes to my favorite creatives at the moment: Ivar Wigan is my new discovery, I have no idea who he is but his photographs is a Tarantino movie. Then my pals from TwoDicks klan—the real ‘anartists’ from Lithuania. Also need to mention Tom Gould and Dexter Navy their body of work is jaw dropping . My favorite artist list keeps changing on the regular basis though.
Your photos seem to capture a sense of rawness and grittiness, both stylistically and through your subjects. How would you categorize or describe your work?
It is what it is. Sometimes it’s difficult to glamorize things with a rough surface. I can’t put it in a category, it’s just AboveGround. You name it.
How do you choose your subjects and what to shoot?
I don’t. I’m a very unorganized workaholic apparently (my friend said that). I’m not very good at staging things. For me it’s more about timing and place than the actual plan. Things usually workout itself. I like the organic flow.
How do you feel about film versus digital?
I’m neutral about it. I honestly don’t give a shit what camera or format you’re using. Film became a trend, everybody’s a photography expert nowadays. I sold my digital cameras a year ago because I had to pay my rent. I shot film ever since. My preference is film but in the end of the day I love a good photograph.
As an artist, where do you see yourself in the next five years? Any creative goals or milestones that you’d like to reach?
By 2023 I see myself in Mexico, sipping orange juice while listening to Pablo Montero. Living a Telemundo lifestyle with no strings attached basically. And a photography book, maybe a few—I’m working on it!
Images courtesy of AboveGround.
Stay tuned to Milk for more photographers to watch.