“I’ll be honest, I see a lot of people join because their real life sucks. You can come here and be anybody.”
—Lord Duncan the Monster
Whether they’re bored office stiffs, housewives, or disgruntled war vets, the armor-clad members of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) like to get beat up the old-fashioned way. Boasting more than 30,000 members worldwide, and over 16 “Kingdoms” in the United States alone, the eclectic eccentrics of the SCA participate in a variety of rigorous medieval battle simulations. Suburban Knights is a series of portraits of these 21st-century warriors, in costume and in character as their knightly alter egos.
From 2003 to 2005, internationally renowned photographer E.F. Kitchen photographed and interviewed the fighters of the SCA on location at their battles. Kitchen’s unique approach dispensed with technologically sophisticated cameras, and she instead used a tripod-mounted, 8x10 bellows camera with exclusively handmade and antique lenses. The results are appropriately hoary, sepia-tone images of these fierce warriors lost in time.
Suburban knights willfully escape from the 21st-century and into the realm of the SCA, where one can come face to face with the formidable armor and lance of a knight calling himself “Nissan Maxima.” Warriors are icons for an idealistic code of behavior extolling power and virtue. The men and women of the SCA capture a bit of this past glory for themselves, and while a majority of the portraits obscure the faces of these knights, under their thick armor, their features couldn’t be made clearer.
About the Author
E. F. Kitchen’s photographs are included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art among others. Her work has been published in books including The Greatest Album Covers That Never Were (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, 2003), and Flora Photographica (Simon & Schuster, 1991), as well as periodicals such as the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Angeles Magazine, and View Camera.She is based in Venice, CA.
Leo Braudy is a professor, and the author of From Chivalry to Terrorism (Vintage, 2005), and The Frenzy of Renown (Vintage, 1997), among other books.He is also the coeditor of the Film Theory and Criticism anthology. His most recent book is On the Waterfront (British Film Institute, 2008) in the BFI Film Classics series, and he is currently working on a book about the intertwined history of Hollywood and the Hollywood sign.
Praise for Suburban Knights: A Return to the Middle Ages…
“Her subjects stand in sparse, simple landscapes, but their stances and shields lend them an undeniable air of grandeur.”
The New Yorker, Photo Booth
“They have a sense of going back in time to a more gentle time – everybody is courteous and caring, it’s like an extended family.”
E.F. Kitchen, Los Angeles Times