Melissa Catanese


The Lottery
Hells Hollow Fallen Monarch
Dive Dark Dream Slow

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122 pages, paperback, 5.25' x 7.5'
67 photographs
The Ice Plant, October 2018

available here & here

Where do our minds go when we read books, magazines, and letters? Do we seek an escape, a portal to another world? A secret, a truth, a pleasant distraction? Voyagers, edited by Melissa Catanese, consists almost entirely of anonymous black & white snapshots of people in various postures of reading — in living rooms, on beds, at the beach, eating breakfast. We can’t see what these readers are thinking, but Catanese occasionally breaks the hypnotic typological rhythm to reveal a new photographic element — a pyramid, a starry night, sunlight glowing through a window — giving us brief glimpses of the readers’ potential narrative journeys. A wordless book with the size and feel of a vintage paperback found at a flea market, Voyagers reminds us of the power and intimacy of our relationship to ‘reading devices,’ and evokes an exotic nostalgia for our recent pre-digital culture. As with Catanese’s prior books, the images were judiciously selected from the collection of Peter J. Cohen, a celebrated trove of more than 20,000 vernacular photographs from the early- to mid-twentieth century.


Melissa Catanese compiles anonymous black-and-white found photographs of people lost in that liminal space between this world and a fictional one. Their bodies are left behind, vulnerable to our gaze, while their minds travel to places we cannot imagine. - The Paris Review

Alan Huck for C4 Journal

Talking in the Library with Kim Beil and Tabitha Soren

The images in Voyagers can certainly be appreciated as a beatific window into the past, but to do so belies the depth of Catanese’s investigation. And while I admire the meta facet of Voyagers, to consider the book solely in the realm of conceptual art does not concede its hopefulness and lyricism. A key aim of Catanese’s practice is to, “build elliptical narratives.” Such an aim implies a high level of intentionality and an invitation to participate, to construct meaning, to read. Voyagers contains a multifaceted call and through reading, I respond again and again. - Lisa McCarty for Lenscratch

MetroSource NY

The Heavy Collective