Published by Purple Martin Press. Edited by Peter Kayafas. Text by Matthew Specktor. Conversation with Stephen Hilger, James Welling.
This leporello publication presents Brooklyn-based photographer Stephen Hilger’s (born 1975) color photographs of service alleys and the backside of houses separating the public from the private in the affluent suburb of Beverly Hills, California—a more anomalous view of the place by depicting the physical and symbolic spaces behind the homes of the area’s wealthy residents. Eva Díaz has written that Hilger’s emphasis suggests that “Beverly Hills is actually two cities, a ‘front’ city of impeccably maintained homes and a ‘back’ city that covertly services the front illusion. Hilger photographed their graffiti, security signage, crammed garbage cans, unaesthetic car parks and overgrown vegetation; the maintenance staff who work nearby; and the alleys’ most indelible feature, narrow, high walls that denote a claustrophobic refusal of inspection.” In the Alley features 22 panoramic photographs in a leporello-folded format so the reader can leaf through the photographs or expand the book-object for display. An essay by novelist Matthew Specktor maps out the significance of Hilger’s alley views in the context of personal histories and Hollywood stories. In a conversation, Hilger and photographer James Welling discuss their respective practices.