A few words about Manzin
Manzin is something of a reluctant performance artist. Though he has a few things in common with internet celebrities, namely a very strong presence on Facebook, Twitter and other various social networking haunts, the fact is that he's not a club-hopping fameseeker. He doesn't elbow his way into photo ops with the famous (though he's been around them enough) and he doesn't make the scene anywhere he doesn't really want to be. His personal life is subdued, kept out of the realm of public access.
He's never actually referred to himself as an artist, but that title has been bestowed on him by more than one photographer that's been able to draw out the best in him. He is a natural performer in front of the camera, shamelessly contorting himself and pulling faces to acheive the desired effect, and the resulting images are often extraordinary performance stills. His boisterous ego is often at odds with his quiet id but the balance means that he's not a primadonna, that he'll endure hours of shooting with minimal complaint and he'll do what it takes to get the shot. Photographers often express surprise at his easy-going attitude and fantastic sense of humour, and shoots will often go over time simply because everyone's having a good time.
Manzin began shooting in his own home, mostly re-creations of Marilyn Manson's various looks. An ardent Manson fan, this was never intended to be more than a hobby, a bit of a laugh, something fun to do to while away the dead nights in Canton. In Manson, he found a kindred spirit and a sort of muse. Although Manzin is a talented piano player and a rather good vocalist, his ambitions were never in the musical or live performance field, despite his peers pushing him in that direction. Outright impersonation, therefore, was not on the cards. It was only ever intended to be visual.
However, he'd refined his technique enough that he caught the attention of one of Manson's stable of favourite photographers, Bob Mussell, who took a snapshot of him on the streets of Cleveland. Mussell later flew him out to New York and with a team of stylists, did the most professional re-creations to date.
The resulting photo sessions raise the bar, and speak to the tendency of artists throughout history who carefully echo previous works with one fundamental change, thus creating an entirely new work.
Is it an artistic statement? Is it a documentation of the effects of elements of one artist's work on the heart and mind of another? Or is it just dress up? Vicarious vanity? Or, more probably, elements of all of the above? Whatever the answer, the result is a captivating series of images that capture the spirit of Marilyn Manson in the same way that Manson himself captured the spirit of David Bowie in the Mechanical Animals shoots, and the same way that countless influences have been remixed and reworked by others in the visual medium of popular culture.
But this is not the end of the story. Modeling, as a profession, is fraught with constant assaults by those arguing over the ideal model, a malleable image which photographers can use at their will to be anything at all. But often, the most memorable images are created with models who have a very distinctive look which can be adapted through various means to create the desired mood. This is where Manzin comes in. He is not likely to appear on the cover of GQ, but his natural ability to throw himself into the roles required by the photographer is growing constantly as more photographers discover the fantastic editorial qualities that emerge as they shoot.
2008 was the new waterline - the beginning of an era of creativity and dramatic illustration through collaboration with some highly talented photographers. Manzin's shoots in London, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago have unearthed striking, exciting images and the shoots underway now promise an even deeper level of the same. His portfolio here acts as an archive as well as a showcase of current work.