Maffi trades in grungy/gritty street wise anti-fashion-as-fashion polemics.
As an aesthetic, there’s no love lost between it and myself because for the most part it seems to pride itself in the sheik, sloppy, ad hoc presentation as a means of conveying an immediacy and/or lack of pretense.
Even though I think of most of this sort of work as trash, Maffi seems to be using the aesthetic as a means to an end. The models he shoot lack the stylized contrivance of pose favored by most editorial minded image makers–you know, the it looks stunning unless you stop and think about and then the underlying physics/mechanics of the pose scream of the inherent unnaturalness.
It would clash horribly with the aesthetic if Maffi veered to the other end of the spectrum and sought to portray models in a state of relaxed, uncontrived naturalism. Instead, he splits the difference and gives this almost stylized but still somehow stunted/interrupted poses that always have at least one foot over the line into awkward self-consciousness.
I find myself wondering frequently who the people he shoots are, where they are and what they were thinking/doing before the intrusion of the image maker and the clacking shutter interferred.
Take the image above for example: there’s no rhyme or reason too it. It’s clearly a cellphone shot of an image on a computer screen. But despite all the things about it that make no goddamn sense, I’m still fascinated by it’s partially uncaring/partially whimsical oddness.
I’d never say it’s an objectively good image but it is interesting. And with the depressing state of eye-bloodying repetition that marks contemporary image making, interesting counts for quite a bit.