Friday Photo: Cardboard Camera

(Photo: Roman Buxbaum)

“The mistake is part of it, it is poetry,” the eccentric Czech artist Miroslav Tichý has said. “And for that you need a bad camera.” By “bad,” 83-year-old Tichý doesn’t mean that fuschia Le Clic you took to summer camp, he’s talking pure DIY: shoebox cardboard, tin cans, toilet paper rolls, elastic bits. And the lenses? Plexiglas rounds polished with toothpaste and ashes. Tichý’s remarkable homemade cameras, including the one pictured above, are on view along with approximately 100 of his haunting photos (heavy on the candid snaps of women and spookily distorted landscapes) in an exhibition at New York’s International Center of Photography. Curated by ICP’s Brian Wallis, it is the first North American museum show for the reclusive Tichý, whose fans include Richard Prince and Nick Cave (both contributed essays to the catalogue). Learn more about his extraordinary life and work in the 2004 documentary made by Roman Buxbaum, the friend and neighbor who brought Tichý’s work to light. Miroslav Tichý: Tarzan Retired runs continuously in the gallery throughout the exhibition, which is up through May 9.

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