Friday, May 9, 2059


Velcome to the website for Five Nine Pres.

Five Nine is a small production house based in Los Angeles, California.

Its focus is on but not limited to printed matter.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020


Elaboration is an ongoing series of short interviews with artists by Five Nine. Its current focus is on photography. Each interview begins with one static question and one question catered to its specific participant based on their answer to the first. This installment in the series is an interview with Clark Allen.

Why do you take photographs?

I feel a strong compulsion to make things that I feel translate my experience of being alive into something tangible. I think this manifests in everyone in different ways, be it though creating art, building a family, making absurd quantities of money... Conquest too maybe? That's probably another conversation. For me it came through visual art. I can barely remember a time in my life when making images wasn’t important to me. I have been drawing since I could pick up a crayon and writing ever since I learned the alphabet. As far as photographs go however, that took a little longer.

I was born in '83, and raised in a small town in the 90s. There wasn't a bookstore with a decent photography section, and the internet wasn't really around everywhere. The local library had one or maybe two computers that connected to it but they weren't fast enough to get on and just aimlessly browse. The unconnected desktops were equipped with Microsoft's Encarta though (for anyone who's younger reading this, Encarta was a CD-ROM encyclopedia with a heavy emphasis on visual content). This is probably where my interest was piqued. I'd toggle back and forth, scrolling through pictures of anything that seemed foreign and exciting. The African Savannah, Kowloon Walled City, punks in London, Studio 54. Whatever. I wanted to experience a life outside of where I was, and as I looked at these photos I realized more and more that I wanted to prove it.

Unfortunately a camera, film, and just the whole interest as a package is pretty expensive. To this day I still have not been able to land a legit job that pays me more than a few bucks over a minimum wage, so my budget for it has always been pretty low. Due to these facts, once I became endeared to the medium I decided that I needed to really think about what I was doing. The conclusion that I came to was that, despite generally being broke and despite my hobby being kind of unwise under the circumstances, I’m really lucky that I’m not broken as a person. Growing up working class in America is hard. People like to pretend it’s not. Sometimes they even convince themselves in full that it isn’t, but it really fucking is, which is totally absurd because there is so much wealth, such an abundance of resources in this world, that there truly is no reason for this other than the greed of a few.

This is a totally roundabout answer as to why I take pictures but I swear I'm getting there.

Everything I'm rambling on about leads up to this: I think that if you’re trying to translate your lived experience into art, then you can’t separate the conditions under which you live from what you create. I have been very lucky on my path to adulthood. It was boring where I grew up and oppressive in many ways, but at my age now I have seen so much more of what late capitalism has done to the world. I feel in a position like my own, a position where I have the space to create at all, that I am also saddled with a moral obligation to be trying to build work that is illuminating to others. I am leaning into that particular idea big-time when I go out with my camera. The system we live beneath is an empire gone mad. Our leaders have no clothes and the vision of their nudity has driven people hysterical, terrified, to claw at each other like in hell. It sucks so much that it’s almost a joke, so let's look at it that way. Let's laugh in the black hole. I want to show people we can do that.

Is humor something you have to search for to make a picture or does it come as a natural consequence of your demeanor?

Here is something I think about a lot:
Roughly fifteen years ago I was in a car with my friends Thomas and Kyle. Kyle is in the front passenger seat and I am in the back. Thomas is driving, but I would barely call it that because he is actually being a total asshole and paying more attention to some stupid-ass binder of like 500 CDs, trying to pick one out instead of paying attention to the road. All of the sudden traffic in front of us has stopped, but we're hurtling toward it because this jackass is still fumbling around with his dumb binder. I see this but choke because I'm thinking I'm about to get killed and don't manage to say anything. Kyle on the other hand doesn't freeze up OR “say” anything. Instead raises his up an extended index finger, points at the cars in front of us and starts laughing. It was this crazed, attention grabbing cackle that thankfully was commanding enough to get Thomas to look up and hit the brakes. We all ended up fine, which I was thrilled about, but later when we were all chilling I asked Kyle why he had reacted the way he did. I can't remember his exact words now but they were something like, "I dunno man, that's just how I saw the situation."

I don't believe that I could not function in society without humor as a tool. A desire for a sense of joy that intersects with feelings of anger or fear is critical to survival in my opinion. When that defense mechanism becomes visible in the photographs I take, what I think you are seeing is my intent to document my instinctual reaction to the world around me. If you are laughing with me when you look at my photographs then that's the best thing for me to hear. We may be metaphorically careening toward a solid object bound to shatter us on impact, but at least we’re shoehorning in a last laugh together. There's no reason to have to feel so alone on the way there, you know?

Clark Allen is the founder of Five Nine Pres. To be totally clear he did not interview himself for this project. This segment was conducted at the insistence of Christopher Brown. He keeps little work on the internet but much can be made available by reaching out to him via email. Contact him at

Tuesday, February 18, 2020


- Lee Matalone

A hound, no, not quite, as I said— she repeats to Husband, as she refers to this new man ringed to her finger to her friends— a dog with no hair, a special kind of mutt only a blind mother could love. It’s the kind of dog she didn’t know she had been looking for. She tells him from across the room that she, she found him through this local rescue that took in all the poor, the mangy, the half-loved, the most in need of love, so they should really do this, they should really get this little guy.

This interest in the dog should have come as no surprise to Husband (the III, she would sometimes joke, when she was in a particularly light mood and capable of laughing at her errors). As she had told him during their brief courtship, expedited surely by its ascent in her September years, her taste had always veered toward the odd, the abused, the angular, so of course really she would gravitate toward this creature, this Xolo, a dog, she informs him, that the Aztecs sacrificed to be buried with their deceased emperors. In the YouTube video she watched about the breed, a historical reenactment depicted the hairless mutt’s blood seeping Ketchup-ly into the soil, the video blood then intermingling with the blood of his emperor, so that this dog too became part emperor, and in the way she read into it, a ruler in its own right. A caretaker, perhaps, of all the dead dogs, hairless and otherwise.

And what a dog this dog is, she thinks, she says, her voice grasping for Husband’s ear. She learns from fervent googling— because dogs like this, dogs that take the heart like this, they don’t last long in pounds or rescues, and she needs to do research fast, before this dog disappears from her life like all other prematurely loved things before him— she learns that this dog can detect migraines before they come into your head, when these migraines are just a seed of pain in your cells, and what a dog what a dog to be able to look through skin and bone and blood and see pain, to capture it and alchemize it into knowledge, into a way out, a way forward from all of the hurt.

Lee Matalone is an author currently based in South Carolina. Her debut novel Home Making was released today, February 18th, 2020, by Harper Perennial. This story originally appeared in the Five Nine collection, Blood! 

Friday, February 14, 2020


Mired within a system that places little reward on the sincere performance of affection, capital comes first. Love is argued with the aid of well known figures under copyright; Snoopy, Garfield, characters from popular television or Netflix series. Each year they are all printed onto millions of pieces of cardstock and distributed internationally to aid us in our expression. Of course a rose is still a rose, but more often it is purchased rather than planted, nourished, and presented. This system has contributed to a widespread sentiment that creative endearment is somehow passé, that the extravagant exclamation of love and the unmasking of our human vulnerability is somehow weird or troubling. The uptick in sales at Russel Stover Candies, Bath & Body Works, and reveal this to some degree. In the empire of capital love is an item rather than a feeling. That said however, who says we have to live there?


Wednesday, February 12, 2020


Elaboration is an ongoing series of short interviews with artists by Five Nine. Its current focus is on photography. Each interview begins with one static question and one question catered to its specific participant based on their answer to the first. This installment in the series is an interview with Bill Daniel.

Why do you take photographs?

 Well, I like Gary Winogrand’s answer best: To see what the world looks like photographed. But that’s not really my answer. Mine might be simply: I take photographs so that I have negatives to print.

 This gets to the difference between taking and making photos. For my 35mm practice, it’s primarily documentary, and it’s socially based on my own various communities, and how they overlap. So making prints, or zines, or books, and getting them back into the hands of the people in the photos, or in those scenes, like punk, or art-making friends, is a big part of my motivation. Touring with photo exhibitions and having a merch table at shows is a crucial step in my process. I learned art at punk shows. I guess my basic function is as a documentarian. To help the future to see the past.

What is it about creating work within your own scene that appeals to you, as opposed to investigating less familiar territories or social circles?

Part of it is that I can't afford to travel to Russia to shoot landscapes there, although I'd love to be able to take my 8x10 camera around the world.

As far as photographing people with my 35 or the 120, I'm not the kind of shooter who is comfortable slinging a camera around and photographing people in public. Usually when I'm shooting it's around people who know me and what I'm up to. I'm not into having my photo taken by random strangers, so that might be part of it.

Texas-born, San Francisco exiled, and confirmed tramp, Bill Daniel continues to experiment with survivalism and bricolage in his attempts to record and report on the various social margins he finds himself in. Currently based on the Texas gulf coast, Daniel divides his time between Texas and touring. See more of his work on his site,

Wednesday, February 5, 2020


Elaboration is an ongoing series of short interviews with artists by Five Nine. Its current focus is on photography. Each interview begins with one static question and one question catered to its specific participant based on their answer to the first. This installment in the series is an interview with Joseph Rodriguez.

Girl with her puppy in a housing project doorway. —  East Harlem, NY, 1987
Why do you take photographs?

Here is the clear and personal reason of what photography is for me:

"Raised in violence I enacted my own violence upon the world and myself. What saved me was the camera — its ability to gaze upon, to focus, to investigate, to reclaim, to resist, to re-envision.”

Birth defects from USA military use of Agent Orange and other herbicides became common after the Vietnam War. Here are Siamese twins who were just successfully separated at the Tu Du Gynecological Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. It is estimated that over 3 million people in Vietnam suffer from the effects of Agent Orange, as it has been passed on from one generation to the next. — Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 1989
Are you going in with a predetermined idea of how you re-envision your subjects or is it something that happens organically?

I usually I spend years working on something. I do a fair amount of reading and research before I take on a project. I care about people and this is the way I can speak to that. It’s how I talk to myself and talk to the world. To summarize in just one word though, I’m a humanist, and the humanist element comes at the beginning. If you look at the pictures I shoot, the work is about giving back a sense of history to the neighborhoods and people first.

When I came out of school at The International Center of Photography I immediately had to get some work, so I started working for a photo agency called Black Star. They’re not as big as some other agencies but they’re still around. They opened up my world as to how to tell a story. I would do my thing, stay after work and look through the archives. There were a lot of National Geographic photographers being represented there at the time. As I studied their imagery and their stories, I also began to walk the streets of Spanish Harlem. This was about `84 or `85. When I showed the work to the agency and they sent me to National Geographic who liked the work and hired me. That’s where the foundation was built. It was almost like being at boot camp. Rigidity, the importance of a caption, all that, is something I’ve been able to carry on to many other things since. This foundation is combined with vision, but I think vision is something else. As a writer you have to think about who you are and what you care about, and with photos it’s no different. A lot of people get into the game for money and fame, but it’s never been about that for me. It’s about family and it’s about social justice.

What the industry wanted me to show the world with my work on East Side Stories was the guns and violence, but life is like a roller coaster. We may fall into darkness but we can walk out into the sun again as well. We can hit the beautiful sunny beaches of Santa Barbara one day and say “Hey guess what, it changed.” Right? I like to see that change. I don’t shy away from the dark side but I find and bring brightness into the narrative as well, whatever that may be.

The Eastern New York Correctional Facility is a Maximum Security prison in Napanoch, New York. The prison, at one time called the "State Institution for Male Defective Delinquents," holds one of the only organized prison body building competitions in the country: Mr. Nap. Dennis “Zar” Lovett was the closest thing the Eastern New York Correctional Facility had to a Mr. Nap icon. After Winning 10 straight Mr. Nap competitions, he sat out in 2004 to train several of his fellow inmates. “A man’s gotta do something while he is in,” he told one of his understudies. “Can’t go out the same way you came in.”  Napanoch, NY, 2004
Joseph Rodríguez is a documentary photographer born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He studied photography in the School of Visual Arts and in the Photojournalism and Documentary Photography Program at the International Center of Photography in New York City. See more of his work on his site, or on Instagram @rollie6x6.

Friday, January 17, 2020


Elaboration is an ongoing series of short interviews with artists by Five Nine. Its current focus is on photography. Each interview begins with one static question and one question catered to its specific participant based on their answer to the first. This installment in the series is an interview with Dan Monick.

Why do you take photographs?

The quick answer is
I don't really know how to do anything else. Literally. Well, I'm a decent line cook. Or was. Its been a little while.

The long answer is
When I was 18 I was a busboy in the cafeteria at the Walker Art Center. I had this huge crush on the woman who worked in the gift shop. She had red hair, smoked cigarillos, wore bright red lip stick, men's v-neck tees and cowboy boots. 
I used to sneak out of the cafeteria to go to the gift shop so I could see her. For the record she did not know I existed. I was in the gift shop pretending to look at stuff when I saw a book with a title that peaked my interest. It was called The Ballad Of Sexual Dependency. I knew nothing about the book or what it was. I opened it and flipped through every page. Everything in the photos seems weirdly familiar yet also so exotic. I had never seen stories told this way. Pretty soon I started sneaking down to the gift shop to look at the book, totally enraptured. I could only imagine making images or telling stories that affected someone the way these images affected me. I quit the job, and my busboy pay was not going to afford me the book. It was years until I saw it again. I had gone to college on the east coast and found it at a friends apartment in NY. It was like seeing that person you saw across the room at some party. You didn't talk, and time goes by and you never see them again but you never forgot them. Once again I poured over it, this time writing down the name of the photographer, Nan Goldin. The following semester at school I applied to Photo 1 on a lark. It was known that no one ever gets in on the first try. I was focused on writing but figured what the hell. Through a series of events that involved a key necklace, a guy named Bear, Sebadoh, and George Bataille's Story of the Eye, I was not only rejected from the writing class, but the professor told me she would never work with me ever. I was kind of proud of this and as I left the class I got notice that I had been accepted into Photo 1. To top it off the Photo 1 professor was Carrie Mae Weems. It's funny, I've done a million things and had different creative outlets and interests have come and gone, but since I started taking pictures, I've never really stopped. Its the one thing that since I found it, the desire to do it has never left me. I've most likely never gotten close to the having the effect on anyone that Nan Goldin's photos had on me, but the joy of looking for a picture to take, to always have that camera in my pocket, and to always be excited when the film comes back has never gone away.

That is why I take pictures.

Are there any themes running through your photos that you feel have carried over from your other artistic interests; i.e a narrative impulse from writing, etc?

I haven't written for so long that I can't really remember what I wrote about. I kind of recall always wanting to be somewhat sincere and displaying a bit of vulnerability in the stories I wrote while always trying to convey  the subtle absurdities of the everyday. Everything I do I always want to have a touch of tenderness and comedy. When someone laughs at one of my photographs, I feel successful. I also have no idea why I have such an emotional response to a roll up door over a nail salon storefront.

Dan Monick lives and works in Los Angeles. You can view more of his work at and check out his publishing company Cash Machine at