Woodshop Talk: Ziggy Reed

Ziggy Reed

Ziggy Reed is a photographer and
winner of the Inkslinger Award in visual arts for Issue No. 13.
Here we chat with him about his process and his art.
This is Woodshop Talk.

Woodshop Talk

BUFFALO ALMANACK: You mention the “woes of a common suburbanite.” What are these, and what about them makes a suburbanite “common?”

ZIGGY REED: My biggest fear has always been that I’d end up Normal. It’s a scary proposition. I see it all around me. You can’t be Normal and Special at the same time. So you find yourself in a blind rebellion against normalcy, which inherently is a masochistic reaction – you harm yourself so no one else can do it for you. It’s an odd form of control.

The woe of the common suburbanite is a reflection of our priorities. When life becomes dull what are you left to care about? I have food, I have money, I have comforts that people in this world do unspeakable things for.  Does that make my pain less? A lot of people say it does, and maybe they’re right, but everybody hurts, just differently. I’ve never met a person who has it all figured out.

If I neglect to cut my grass or take my garbage cans from the curb I get a wrathful letter taped to my door. It’s easy to get caught up in things like that. You become angry and you want to retaliate. But Tamra across the street can’t really hate me. She doesn’t even know me. These people live in a slew of misguided emotions. It’s impossible to reason with that kind of mentality.


BA: I might ask where you live, but perhaps its doesn’t matter. The American suburbs are all one place. What does that place mean to you?

ZR: I grew up in a town that no one ever leaves. No one’s rich but no one is really poor. My parents worked hard to get us here but died when I was 9. They were never wealthy by any means but they subscribed to the idea of Life Insurance, and that left me with a house and more money than either of them ever had. So I turned 18 and I never had to ‘do’ anything for what I owned. That’s the main reason I never related to anyone around me.

I used to feel sorry for myself. No one ever bought me an ice-cream because I hit a home run, or grounded me because I snuck out. I always kind of did what I wanted.  My Uncle was my guardian but he never had any real rules and I didn’t go to school, so parents wouldn’t let their kids hang out with me.

When I became a legal adult my Uncle moved out. All of my friends still lived with their parents so naturally my house became the party house. It’s 4 years later and the neighbors still look at me like I don’t belong and call the cops when I’m loud. But their kids used to get drunk at my parties so I laugh at the hypocrisy. Also, I’ve slept with a good number of their daughters so I feel like I won a little there.


BA: Why do you refer to your neighbors as “the suburbanites?” What makes them so suburban, and you so—not?

ZR: The people  I live around have worked their entire adult lives to afford what, in their eyes,  I was simply given. That’s the main difference. But no one ever gave me the choice – money or love- because I’m certain that I’d choose to watch my mother grow old every time. And maybe therein lies the mutual disdain.

Sometimes I think that I am them. I mean I live amongst them, I eat at the same restaurants, and I get gas at the same 7-11. Sometimes I feel I’m just as ignorant too, just maybe in a different way. However, I definitely do a lot more acid than they do.


BA: If you could look out your bedroom window and see anything, what would you see?

ZR: My mother pulling up to the driveway with a car full of groceries.

Ziggy Reed

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