Where are each of you from and what originally brought you to New York?
Lauren: I’m from a small town in Connecticut where stop signs are optional, and I moved to New York in 2005 to be a photo assistant for a well-known food and lifestyle photographer.
Jozeph: I’m from Northern California and came to New York in 2001 for school. After graduating, I hopped around the U.S. and Europe before settling back here permanently in 2007.
And what are you up to these days?
Lauren: My first go at cookbook photography was finally released the first week of October, which I am very excited about, and hopefully that will lead to more in the coming year. I am also involved in the initial stages of putting together a startup company with a friend of mine. The exact details of what we are going to do are still under wraps, but we think that it will be a success, a standout in Brooklyn—if that’s possible.
Jozeph: My primary job is teaching GED classes in the Bronx, working with 17 to 24 year-old students who at some point dropped out of high school. “A challenge” and “rewarding” are the taglines I could attach to it, or what people might expect me to say—in actuality it’s difficult and exhausting and a constant test. The rewards are definitely not immediate, but now, in my third year, I’m beginning to see them. I’m also the poetry editor for BOMB Magazine’s BOMBlog, so I’m at their office at least one afternoon a week.
At Home with Jozeph and Lauren
Tell me about Werner the Cat.
Lauren: Werner is a 10-month-old Bengal cat who weighs 11 pounds. He’s a fancy cat, and we won’t tell you how much he cost. Yes, we bought our cat. Aside from his pedigree and beautiful Lynx-like pelt, he’s a large muscle-y monster: he enjoys terrorizing our tuxedo cat, Anna, who I rescued as a kitten. Currently, we’re teaching him how to play fetch and Jozeph is good at being the alpha of the house, pinning Werner to the ground and carrying him by the scruff to be locked in the bathroom for a time out.
Lauren, what's your favorite photo you've recently taken and what are favorite pieces of art in the house?
I’m working on a series of firework collages from this past 4th of July. I mocked them up rather small and have to remake them larger so I can print them up 30x40. I was up in the 601 building on 26th Street and had a great view of the New York City fireworks display, which made for some pretty great images. My favorite piece of art is an image given to me by my old mentor, Quentin Bacon, of a ballerina shot on large format Polaroid transfer for a Breast Cancer fundraiser. It’s dark and blurry and beautiful and encapsulates my love of both dance and photography.
If you could take one Brooklyn neighborhood, lift it out of New York and plant it in some other city, which hood would you take and where would you put it?
Jozeph: The difficult thing about that question is that moving any part of Brooklyn out of New York City would cause it to lose it’s inherent qualities, the unique piece it plays in an ever-changing, dynamic city. Can we just move a certain neighborhood to it’s seven-to-ten-years-ago self?
Could you tell me a little about some of your favorite pieces of art or design in your apartment? (Did you ever build that wall-of-windows?)
Jozeph: We didn’t build the wall of windows, though one of our neighbors did. My favorite piece of art is a series of three prints by a folk artist from Arizona named Ted Degrazia. My grandmother bought them from him at his studio in Tucson shortly before he died and had him sign them. They are slightly atypical from his more famous work, but they hold a very sentimental place in my collection. He supposedly hid hundreds of paintings in the Arizona desert after he learned the IRS would tax any income made on the paintings after his death. A map exists, somewhere, and I’d like to get my hands on it. I also wouldn’t give up any of Lauren’s photographs, even if she refuses to hang most of them in the apartment.
What's your favorite thing about your neighborhood?
Lauren: We live on a predominantly Hasidic block in South Williamsburg/Bed-Stuy, across from the Marcy Projects. We are never at a loss for interesting family interactions, rituals, and cultural events. For its lack of nightlife it remains a relatively dynamic and lively neighborhood.