Juergen Teller: The Face, 1989
Model Emma Campbell: Caharel by Sarah Moon
Ziggi Golding: Model card
Juergen Teller: Eternity campaign
For the past three decades, Ziggi Golding has set the bar for a standard of originality and creativity in the fine art and commercial photography worlds. She is devoted to cultivating talent and style within her roster of artists. As she notes, “I’m an enabler. I like to help people develop and realize their dreams.”
Since first becoming an agent in 1983, Ms. Golding has developed the careers of many of the top talents in the art, photographic, fashion, film, and music industries today. She sits down with The Click to discuss a life in photography.
Ms. Golding remembers, "Growing up in Jamaica, my mom always had a Roliflex. It was the one you looked down in. It was unusual then. It's interesting that photography wasn't my love. It was painting and drawing, art in its trues form. But I got interested in photography when I fell int modelling at the end of the 70s.
“As a job, I didn’t find modeling that interesting. I was more into the process of photography itself. After about six years in the industry, I started my own agency, the Z Agency. I wanted to protect models, as they were young and put in compromising positions. I also thought modeling was what you do when you didn’t know what to do with your life.
“I chose interesting people with a good look, amazingly talented people, and I started representing photographers early on like Andrew McPherson, and Geoff Stern, who had made the film, 'Underground.' It was part of my role to make things happen on a bigger level. For the 'Underground' I helped make a deal with Palace Pictures and Collin Callender, who went on to be the President of HBO Films. I made an early point of generating original work, in addition to booking people.
“With i-D and The Face, all through the 80s, two thirds of the content was connected with Z Agency, whether it was the photographers, models, stylists, make-up or hair. However I was not fulfilled by the modeling side of the industry. I was more interested in being the master of the project. What we see in printed matter such as magazines is the common man’s art, so set out to make the way we see things change. In the 70s and early 80s, everything was being airbrushed. They were not interested in people looking like people. I was interested in giving the public a different choice.
“The photograph wasn’t yet an art form when I was representing photographers such as Stephane Sednaoui and Juergen Teller. Teller needed challenges to make his work and he need the team. I dictated to clients how he would work. I made everyone aware that this is how he works. I apply that practice with everyone. I used Juergen as an example as he broke barriers. As his style became more visible we had more breakthroughs in the visuals of fashion. Our first shoot with Vogue, they didn’t accept the photographs because the model wasn’t wearing lipstick, so we sold the pictures to Interview.
“I remember people were calling in books when we opened in New York but they weren’t booking the photographers, so I asked them what was going on. They told me the work as was bit ‘edgy.’ I think that word is badly misused. The work wasn’t edgy, rough, or raw; it was just different from what they were used to seeing at that time.
“I had opened a New York office in 1988 called Zphotographic, and at the same time started Zphotographic in London to separate the division from the model agency, and just representing photographers, and stylists. We were in the Cable Building and the old Details (under Annie Flanders) was upstairs. Ronnie Cooke (now Newhouse) was Creative Director, and years later turned up at Calvin Klein. We congratulated her and spoke about Juergen. While we were on the phone her assistant called in the book. Juergen was flying in the next day so we set up a breakfast meeting. That’s how he got the Eternity campaign. It was a stills and commercial campaign. It was the first time he did film. But if you have amazing footage and a vision, you can do it, as it all happens in the edit. Juergen was instinctual and it became the commercial and pint campaign. That doesn’t happen often.
“Juergen’s work was stand alone, and I considered it art. He won the young talent category at Fashion de la Photographie de la Mode in 1988. I approached Aperture Foundation, as they were the entrée into the art side of photography. In those days, it felt like you had to be dead or a photographer before 1950’s. It was as if they did not believe that photographers who worked commercially could also make art.
“In 1989, Aperture did the book Idealizing Vision, which was when they decided that there were “ some “ photographers considered artists and introduced them to the amazing talent in Europe which is how the book came about. That same year was when the contemporary art worked decided that photography was an art form. I was there and a part of it when it happened. They homed in on Cindy Sherman, who I was aware of before, who was quietly doing her thing for years, and did a Comme de Garcon campaign with her clown images. Monika Sprüth picked up on her and Andreas Gursky, and the contemporary world homed in.” By way of understanding how quickly this market has risen since then, Gursky is the creator of the most expensive photograph in history “99 CENT”, which sold for 3.3 million dollars at auction in 2007.
As Ms. Golding observed the changes in the art market, she met the demand. She notes, “I decided to close the model side and keep Zphotographic in 1990. I introduced Juergen to Lehman Maupin a few years later but in those days, people thought that agents and galleries don’t work together. I would have loved to have been involved, but I wasn’t allowed to be. I wanted to represent artists as a gallery without a space. There were moments such as with Koto Bolofo, I managed to get his film 'Sibusiso Mhbele and his Fish Helicopter' to be shown at MoMA following his book I helped organize with powerHouse Books in NY.
"While still having the agency I also became director of Gee Street records a company owned by my partner and became creative director, responsible for artwork campaigns and videos, and discovered a number of new photographers and video directors with my limited budgets, commissioning the first videos by Hype Williams, and Roman Coppola. In this capacity I won a Cleo award for excellence in adverting in 1996.
“I left New York in 2002, after 9/11. It was difficult to run things from London. I wasn’t happy with the way the agency was going. Everything became ‘Next!’ ‘Next!’ ‘Next!’ There was no depth. I started spending more time seeing exhibitions, going to Venice and to Art fairs. Then I began to working as an agent , not abandoning the commercial world completely but shifting my focus to the art world.
“For example, I have been working with a Nigerian photographer George Osodi who has been documenting the everyday lives of the people in the Niger Delta. It is a horrific situation but the images are beautiful. He was invited to Documenta 12, and when they selected 200 images which would take up room, so I advised him to agree to install the show as a photographic projection on a 70-inch LED screen. Afterwards it was sold as an installation to museum and private collections. We also sell his prints. Since then I developed and selected a direction to launch the work of Charles March. I also brought the Guy Bourdin estate to Phillips de Pury to develop within Contemporary Art as he was an artist that fell in the cracks.
“I haven’t abandoned the commercial world, but I am conscious of strategy. You can’t force anything but you can keep showing great work so that people become more familiar and fall in love with the work. Then bingo!"
Koto Bolofo: Sibusiso Mhbele and his Fish Helicopter
Stephane Sednaoui: The Face
George Osodi: Oil Rich Niger Delta 2006