In partnership with food stylist Iain Graham, Alex’s latest personal project draws on memories of his Philadelphia-based Italian family, replicating his grandmother’s cooking style with satire and fondness.
At It's Nice that, we learn more about the series: 'The series came about when “legitimately famous food stylist” Iain Graham reached out to Alexander to see if he wanted to collaborate. The two met, and Alexander mentioned that, being from an Italian family on his mother’s side, he grew up with some women who did Italian “really really well.” “My great grandmother, who was born in Italy, was especially great,” he explains, “her hands were always busy with some food, although she didn’t wear quite as much jewelry as we depicted.” After speaking to a few friends with similar upbringings and laughing about how “most Italian-American east coast women wouldn’t take their jewelry off for anything. Not for dishwashing, not for making meatballs, not for gardening, nothing,” the idea to recreate this world was borne.
Alexander and Iain worked with nail artist Kate Cutler and set designer Emma Witter to bring to life Alexander’s memories. “I wanted it to be a heightened-reality but definitely based in truthfulness,” he adds, explaining how Iain “was really game for that”. In fact, “when Alexander mentioned a sheet cake with American and Italian flags,” Iain didn’t bat an eyelid.
Although clearly hyperreal, when producing the series, Alexander drew on the time his family moved back to Philadelphia from North Carolina and lived with his grandmother and great grandmother. “Everything in that house revolved around food and mealtime and sitting down together. The house smelled amazing because she was constantly cooking. There were always leftovers. She used to say that if there weren’t leftovers then you didn’t make enough. So it’s directly inspired by that time, for sure,” Alexander tells It’s Nice That.
While grounded in these specific family members, the shoot’s characters are more of a conglomeration of many people Alexander grew up around: “smokers, chefs, aunts and divas”. They pull together his, and his friends’ memories, balancing humor and endearment perfectly.'
Alexander Coggin has an utterly unique way of looking at the world. Now based in London after several years in Berlin, the American is happiest wandering the streets with his camera, feeding his visual curiosity and capturing scenes and subtexts he happens across. With an extraordinary eye for the unusual, the unexpected and the unlikely, he captures fantastic combinations of color and texture. The subjects change according to what he finds, but he conjures weird and wonderful compositions from even the most everyday scenarios. A trained actor, his theatrical training still influences his image-making – he is interested in backstory, body language, and the gap between perception and reality. His bold use of flash adds a magical realism to his pictures, which wouldn’t look out of place on the big screen. Clients include AnOther, Bloomberg Business, Canderel, FT magazine, The Gourmand, It’s Nice That, Monocle, The New York Times, Port magazine, Vice, and Zeit Magazin.