Gloucester: When the Fish Came First




In the summer of 1979, Nubar Alexanian stepped aboard the vessel Joseph and Lucia II for ten days of fishing on Georges Bank with the Brancaleone family of Gloucester, Massachusetts and their crew. More trips followed in 1980 and 1981, and the photographs taken on those voyages form the heart of this book. They show the photographer’s intimate connection with his subjects, and with Gloucester itself.

Gloucester: When The Fish Came First is as much an invitation as a documentary work. Alexanian’s photographs reveal the spirit of this place and the strength of her people. Complex and ruggedly beautiful, they honor Gloucester’s enigmatic soul, her resilient spirit, and her hard-won character. Against all odds, this is a place that continues to believe in itself.

Weight: 3 lbs. 10.2 oz  |  Format: Landscape  |  Dimension: 14″x 11.5″x 5/8″  |  Pages: 116  |  Images: 67 black and white duotones  |  Edition: 500 numbered and signed copies for sale

When I first saw Nubar Alexanian’s tender and astute new book of photos, Gloucester Photographs, I had a sense of moving backwards in time. Images of clam diggers on mud flats, beach goers surrounding a giant sand sculpture in the shape of a deformed man, teenagers in the back of a rented limousine on prom night – all could be fifty years old, others even older. None are. Alexanian’s new book and the show that commemorates it pay homage to a city and perhaps a way of life in decline: Gloucester is a community where people live near to their relatives, visit their neighbors, worship together. What could be stranger? One thing: Alexanian’s treatment of fish, their eyes, their fins, their behead bodies being cleaned. In his fish photos Alexanian finds a metaphor of the people of Gloucester – endangered, atavistic, communal – and they’re as riveting as they are forlorn.” –  The Boston Phoenix

 “A sense of serenity pervades Alexanian’s work in his new book, Gloucester Photographs. Here are moments plucked from narratives, some peaceful, others pulsing: stories we don’t know, lives of which we are not part. But Alexanian gives us enough so that we can imagine the rest, as painful or jubilant or curious as our hearts believe the stories to be. ” – The Boston Globe

Gloucester Photographs  gathers over two decades of work by Nubar Alexanian, whose haunting black-and-white images depict the life of one New England coastal town, from the world of its hard-working fishermen to its sleek schooner races.”  – Newsweek

Alexanian aims for a strange and deeply affecting digging beyond surfaces, similar to the work of an archeologist. If the painters’ rendition of Gloucester’s luminism is achieved by means of the brush adding color to the canvas, in Alexanian’s photographs, mainly those which depict the sea and the land of Gloucester, the surface seems to have been etched, as though the photographer wanted to make way for the light to go through the image. In combination with his adherence to black and white only, this gravure-like quality turns many of Alexanian’s photographs into intensely physical, concrete and often raw images. In these images activity is something which unites the natural world of water and rock, ice and trees, and leaves and snow with the world of men and women and children going about their business against the immensity of the landscape.” –  Arts Media Magazine


Additional information

Weight 58.2 oz
Dimensions 14 × 11.5 × .625 in