“Amber is For Caution” is the new book by Valerie Phillips, published by Longer Moon Farther. Phillips’ books (6 in total) all cover the lives of individual teenage girls. Amber, her latest subject, moved to London from Kentucky to be a model. Her career ended, a self-inflicted death, Amber moved home to study as a surgical technician.
Phillips on Amber -
I met Amber when she was 15. She came to my studio for a casting. She was quiet and feisty at the same time, and kind of bratty and fascinating. I loved her slow-paced, drawn out Kentucky sentences, so perfectly out of place in East London. And I really liked how she didn’t seem to give a shit.
She was just Amber and that was good enough.
I met her again when she was 18. She was back in London running around being a model.
She showed up to meet me one morning looking wrecked and glow-in-the-dark pale. You could just about see through her.
She looked like the star of a 70s horror film, harrowed and mesmerizingly beautiful.
I walked her to her first casting of the day. On the way she cashed travellers cheques to buy cigarettes, Dr. Pepper and a tuna sandwich.
At the casting six grown ups sat around a table eating crisps and flicking through Amber’s model book, saying nothing to her the entire time.
Amber is 19. She used to be a model. Earlier in the year she quit to become a surgical technician.
On the way to a photo shoot in New York, she changed her mind, cut off her hair and dyed it orange so she didn’t have to be a model anymore.
Now she lives in Kentucky, in the town where she grew up. Surrounded by highways, fast food chains and endless cornfields. Her favourite band is the Beatles.
If you wanted to know what Amber will look like next tuesday, you’d have to fly to Kentucky. She might have another tatoo, like the giant angel wings she got on her back, a few weeks after I saw her last. She might have shaved her head, or taken out her cheek piercings, or dyed her hair green, or be wearing a wig or a bikini or a halloween costume.
You could still recognise her by her sci-fi blue eyes and her endlessly inquisitive stare.
A selection of images from “Amber is For Caution” will be on display at Lazarides Greek Street from April 8, 2010.
Many more images follow.