Days Book Review: A Peek into the Mind of Patti Smith | Arts

Rock singer-songwriter Patti Smith’s Book is a collection of photos inspired by her recent Instagram outing, which began in 2018. To create the Book of Days, Smith chose a photo to represent each day of the year, and drew from it a collage of Polaroid and phone photos Cellular and Internet. The collection is a form of preservation of prints, including old photos of Smith, aesthetic stacks of books, and portraits of late socialites or musicians, most of which she has posted to Instagram over the years. For readers, it’s a reminder to appreciate the little moments each day and to take the time to remember past people and events.

Sometimes, the photos seem inconsequential: The collection is ultimately the product of an old woman who gets Instagram and starts posting snaps of her Safari photos or pictures of her coffee and old T-shirts. But Smith isn’t just an old woman. You have created an intimate aesthetic. Everyone wishes they were Patti Smith, drinking coffee, reading mystery books, looking at statues, and taking pictures with other cool rock and roll stars. There is an undeniable appeal to Smith’s group aesthetic, but they can all be found for free by following her Instagram account. It’s easy, flipping through, for the reader to wonder, is this necessary? Why create a book of photos that Instagram views first?

For anyone who isn’t a huge fan of Patti Smith, A Book of Days is a coffee table book at best. It’s the perfect size and shape for display in a simple, attractive cover: black with gold lettering, and the cover features a black-and-white photo of Smith and her Polaroid camera.

Some of the photos offer interesting, and sometimes comical, insights into the life of the ’70s rocker in her old age. Through her career as a composer, Smith ensured she wouldn’t be stuck in an image of herself in her twenties, as many of her legendary fellow musicians have.

In one of the photos in the book, Smith is standing with her long gray hair next to Keanu Reeves. The caption reads, “Wish a deserving friend a happy birthday.” Pictures of her and other celebrities are scattered around the pages, usually appearing on their birthdays. In the introduction, Smith writes that for her, Instagram has been a way to celebrate birthdays by remembering the departed and paying homage to our youth. “The Book of Days,” she writes, “is a glimpse into how I navigate this culture in my own way.” Through her images, she tries to influence the way people use social media, to turn it into a positive space for others like her. And it works: the easy accessibility of some of the images reminds people to look Find the simple beauty and feel-good moments in their lives and share them with others.

64 pictures in the book are not hers. They are portraits of famous people, usually activists that include Greta Thunberg, Martin Luther King Jr., and Helen Keller’s mentor, Anne Sullivan. The outdoor photos seem out of place amid Smith’s photos, but the brief comments often include interesting anecdotes. For example, the December 11 photo pays tribute to Alice Augusta Ball, who developed the first successful treatment for leprosy and died at 24. The captions accompanying more celebrities are shorter, thankfully, to avoid repetition.

Other photos, however, are placed without a lot of context, like the photo of a crumpled shirt on a bed that could easily be mistaken for someone trying to sell their old clothes on Poshmark. But the shirt has a deeper meaning: It was a gift from Michael Stipe, lead singer of REM

Photographs like these offer an intriguing glimpse into Smith’s way of thinking and interacting with the world, finding simple moments to appreciate each day: a gift from a friend, a cup of tea, how the books are stacked on her desk, or musings on travels. .

There are also a lot of family photos. Either celebrity beds, or photos of beds you’ve slept in while traveling. At first glance, the family seems out of place or frivolous. But after some thought, the intimacy of the images causes the reader to spend a little more time thinking about where we spend nearly a third of our lives without a second thought. The photos also break with the conventions of social media, which can sometimes pressure people to only post photos of themselves.

Maybe more people should post family photos on Instagram. Currently, apps like Instagram are holding people back. kids get addicted to it; They are overwhelming sources of social comparison; They spread misinformation and allow activity on social media instead of concrete action. These issues are so prominent, some teens are even prominent ditching Mobile phones completely to escape the influence of social media. Smith acknowledges these issues, but believes social media can work for the better, too.

“Social media, in its twisted democracy, sometimes goes after cruelty, reactionary commentary, misinformation and nationalism,” she wrote. But as the book proves, “it can serve us, too. It’s in our hands.”

—Staff writer Asher J. Montgomery can be reached on Twitter @tweet.

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