Photos courtesy of Stephen Eichenbaum

Writer, photographer, poet, and history teacher Stephen Eichenbaum has kept a log of his musings on his blog Thangs and Thangs for quite some time but The Perfumed Garden is his first foray into the world of printed material. Printed in the zine format the pages are filled with writings and photographs that transport the reader to a foreign yet familiar place, creating a temporary sense of escape. We highly recommend it.

Where did the idea for The Perfumed Garden come from?
It’s really the result of a few years worth of work and the strong but simple desire to create something beautiful. I wanted to create a tangible manifestation of an ethereal place where I wanted to dwell.

What type of camera(s) do you photograph with?
Contax G2, Nikon F100, and the ubiquitous iPhone. The Perfumed Garden was created with a combination of the three, but almost entirely with the Contax and Nikon except for two shots.  

What’s your favorite fruit - as a couple are pictured in the zine? 
Mango, without a doubt.  There’s so many varieties and with Miami so close to the Caribbean many of those varieties have made it here and are flourishing in yards all over the city. The tree in my mom’s backyard produces the most amazing mangos I’ve ever had and right now is prime time. I believe they’re Francis mangos.

How do you think that zines are changing the way that printed material is being consumed?  
I don’t know how exactly it’s changing it, but it’s definitely a different way to consume it. And I only say that because they’ve been around for so long. It’s the original democratic publication. Every “scene” had their own back in the day whether it was punks, skaters, or artsy kids wanting to throw their ideas together in one place. I started skating in the late 80’s/early 90’s so the DIY culture is very much my come from. I grew up with them and always loved the strange, abstract, rough-around-the-edges vibe of a lot of them. We’re talking xerox made zines.

I think zines today more than ever give people the means to create something that feels more long lasting and personal, particularly against the backdrop of the internet deluge of content. The reader can put it on the shelf and re-visit it as opposed to having it lost in the digital bookmarks. As a consumer, it feels special to have something “small.” It’s like a little secret that you get to be a part of with the artist/publisher. And let’s face it, it doesn’t feel like there’s many secrets left.  

What are you reading right now? Why? 
Clarice Lispector, The Complete Stories; She’s brilliant and expresses the beautiful, perverse and bizarre aspects of life so well. Her work is the literary equivalent of abstract expressionism. She can do so much with such little page space too. Colm Tóibín probably said it best about her work: “…it is a sort of story, but perhaps, as with many of these stories, it could be better defined as a strange display of sensibility.”

The Paris Review, Summer Issue 217 there’s always something interesting, and almost always, completely unknown to me. It never disappoints.

The Perfumed Garden | Available online or at Sweat Records 
For a fully immersive experience, don't forget to listen to playlist listed on the back of the zine. 

Read more of Stephen's work on this blog Thangs and Thangs.