Published to Provoke

As May comes to a close, we take a moment to consider this month's defining book launches.

In this selection, we've chosen three artists and photographers, whose work was emotionally provocative for very different reasons.



Jimmy DeSana

Salvation is a previously unpublished artist book by Jimmy DeSana that he conceptualised shortly before his death in 1990. The publication contains 44 of the artist’s late photographic abstractions that quietly and poetically meditate on loss, death, and nothingness.

Just last year, the Brooklyn Museum hosted a survey of Jimmy DeSana’s transgressive work that challenged dominant narratives about the body and sexuality. A significant figure of New York’s punk scene, he’s tragically been overlooked in the histories of photography. DeSana’s lens captured the radical spirit of his era, ‘70s and ‘80s subcultures, irreverently critiqued the American Dream, and responded to the HIV/AIDS epidemic that ravaged his community. His brief but prolific career was rooted in Punk aesthetics and symbolic forms of resistance. Discover more here.


Courtesy of Primary Information & P.P.O.W Gallery  © Estate of Jimmy DeSana


An Artist, a Coyote, and a Cage: Joseph Beuys in New York 1974

Stephen Aiken

May 2024 marks the 50th anniversary of Joseph Beuys’ infamous piece of performance art staged in New York City: I Like America and America Likes Me. A member of the Dadaist art movement Fluxus and pioneer of performance art, Beuys shocked the public when he spent three days locked inside a room with a wild coyote.

The symbolic performance critiqued the spirit of America and encouraged the country to reckon with its prejudice towards social ideas and people who were deemed different; generating minorities, political divides and stereotypes. The performance helped to build a cult following for Beuys that made him alternately revered and reviled throughout the contemporary art world. Stephen Aiken’s previously unpublished photographs of this May 1974 “action” by Beuys, offer a fresh look at this seminal art happening. Discover more here. 


I Like America and America Likes Me, Joseph Beuys 



Tim Hetherington

Running until September 29th, the Imperial War Museum in London is spotlighting the seminal war photographer Tim Hetherington with its Storyteller exhibition and accompanying book release. Readers can expect intimate photographs of the communities and people Hetherington encountered while journeying between war zones.

Before his untimely death, while filming and photographing the Libyan Civil War (2011), the photojournalist collated a vast portfolio of imagery using vintage film cameras that encouraged him to slow down and interact with his subjects, and live on the frontlines for long periods of time with soldiers. This resulted in considered, humanitarian and emotionally charged visuals that defined his career. The book includes stills from his time in Liberia (2003–2006), Afghanistan (2007–2008) and Libya (2011) among other unseen imagery. Discover more here.


A Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) combatant in Liberia, June 2003  © IWM (DC 64010)


Title image. Courtesy of Primary Information & P.P.O.W Gallery  © Estate of Jimmy DeSana