June 28, 2016

The Florence Travel Book Told Entirely Through Butts

This artist made the most unconventional travel book on the Renaissance city

  • Written by Anastasiia Fedorova

Documenting and broadcasting our travels is a something totally natural to us today. The first thing we do when we see our marble hotel bathroom or arrive at the sakura gardens of Tokyo is post it on our Instagram, and probably Snapchat too. Truth is, the irregular pattern of a new city is the best place to have new ideas. And for Erik Benjamins, an artist and academic, this point was butts. That’s right – documenting butts through a collection of black and white photographs he spotted in Florence—belonging to sculptures, not fellow travellers BTW—became the foundation of his unconventional travel book about the Renaissance city.


“I have a very specific and very romantic relationship with Florence as I studied abroad there for six months as a twenty-year old,” Benjamins remembers. “This was my first time returning so I felt obligated to respond to my swirling romantic associations and grand tourist narratives of this place. So to that end, the butts just made sense.”

Numerous black and white photographs of butts, that depict desire, longing, adoration of the city, are laid out in a book with Benjamins’ travel journal. Writing in an experimental, fragmented narrative, which he borrowed from the kinds of travel-writing styles, from one-sentence poetic observations to tour guide tips and restaurant reviews. “I was freely adopting diaristic writing… It just seemed like the appropriate and accessible strategy to reflect on my observations, histories and questions,” he says.

Butts of Florence captures the fleeting essence of the city. Perhaps because every day there you just happen to be surrounded by superior examples of marble nudity, and Benjamins seems to be the first person who put its most seductive parts in a book.



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