London and a Year: Book Release and Exhibition This Friday

My friend Brian Leli is a talented photographer and writer, and one of those rare people who’s good at working with both words and images, in equal measure. In 2011 he launched a successful Kickstarter campaign for his London and a Year project, raising over $15,000.

Documenting his time in London while attending City University London (pursuing an International Journalism MA), his book includes a series of photographs and essays between August 2011 and August 2012. I was a backer for his project, and recently received the book in the mail.

I was surprised to see a few hand-written pages. But they weren’t letters necessarily, more like pages torn from a book. On closer inspection, they turned out to be pages from his journals.

Here’s a great description from Brian’s Kickstarter update. Only those who backed his project get these updates, but I got his permission to repost this segment online. I think it sums up Brian’s thought process and project really well, and also gives you a kind of glimpse into the kind of guy he is:

I decided to include single pages from my London journal notebooks with all the orders instead of writing personalized letters. I chose to do this because it seemed more honest, and truer to the project. I thought a lot about what to write in those letters and it just felt wrong no matter how I approached it, and I didn’t want to insult you by giving you anything other than everything I have. And if everything I have insults you still, well, I guess I can live with that. I have no choice but to live with that, in fact.

Anyway, I did not screen or re-read the journal entries. I just tore them out and shuffled them together and packed them in one by one. There’s something about sending what might be the ugliest parts of myself in padded envelopes to various people and cities all around the world that feels right to me. The closer I got to turning the last year (and quite a bit of change) into a physical object, the more it began to look/feel like a puzzle to me, and I think the scattered journal entries punctuate that kind of perfectly. I like that scattering the ashes rids me of their contents and simultaneously puts them back into the world: a little in your hands, a little in your hands, a little in your hands, etc. I like that it gives us all another unfiltered piece of the puzzle, and that it makes this whole thing feel less like MY project and more like OUR project. Which it is.

I realize I risk seeming pretentious with all this, but I think there’s enough poor grammar, bad spelling, despicable handwriting, hopeless self-deprecation and wounded self-absorption in each journal entry to set that particular record straight.

Okay. That’s it. I hope to see some of you at the book release/exhibition on Feb 1.

Thank you all for everything.


For those in Chicago, Brian has a book release and exhibition of his work at Eyeporium Gallery, in Wicker Park. The exhibition includes “off-the-beaten-path photos from the London Riots, the Olympics, Occupy London, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Pride London and more.”

Friday, February 1st, 6PM – 9PM

Eyeporium Gallery
1431 North Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60622

Two blocks from the Damen Blue Line in Wicker Park

To learn more about Brian, or to see more examples of his work, visit and

Goodbye, Brian
Brian’s Kickstarter Project: London and a Year

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