And just like that, it’s 1991 all over again: The economy is down, unemployment is up, and 20-somethings in the Pacific Northwest, facing diminished postgraduate prospects, are pouring their energy into small, independent ’zines. We were recently introduced to a new one out of Portland, Oregon, called Letter to Jane. With interviews and features on the likes of Passion Pit, Yoko Ono, and Hedi Slimane, it fits the ’zine mold to some extent, but it’s elevated by the singular vision of Timothy Paul Moore, the 25-year-old photographer who devised and designed the project and whose ethereal images comprise more than two-thirds of the 180-page book. “I got my BFA in photography from Oregon State about two years ago and was completely clueless because no one had ever told me how to get into a magazine, only how to make a print and get into galleries,” Moore says. “About six months ago I decided I wanted to do my own thing, and I started asking people for help.”
The magazine is an accompaniment to Moore’s blog of the same name, both taken from the 1972 film by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin, in which the filmmakers volley back and forth, deconstructing a single news photograph of Jane Fonda in Vietnam. “The film itself is boring,” Moore says, “one or two photographs and a tape recorder. But I like how it boils the medium down to its pure elements, image and sound.” Like a film, Moore’s magazine creates a sustained moment by choosing subjects and other photographers whose aesthetic is in line with his own and by making the magazine mostly a series of conversations between creatives.
Our favorite bit is something Moore calls “The Unknown Photographer,” excerpted here in part. “For my birthday, my mom gave me these boxes with about 200 slides in them,” Moore explains. “They were pretty wrecked, emulsions cracking, dirt all over them. I knew they weren’t going to last, so I decided to gently scan them in and start restoring them digitally. It was the hardest part of the whole magazine.”