Smoke is a tribute to Benjamin, singer, poet and figure of the American underground, and to Cabbageton, an underprivileged neighbourhood in Atlanta. Conceived as an album, it combines photographs by Michael Ackerman, pages of Benjamin's notes and archive documents, with texts by Jem Cohen and Patti Smith. It reveals the infinite grace, urgency, delicacy and frenzy of a forgotten man and a forgotten era.
"I remember my first time at Benjamin’s home, my first time in Atlanta. It was late night, after a Smoke show. He and some friends were hanging out in his room, talking, laughing, smoking. I barely knew him and still don’t understand why I was invited. He was brilliant, charismatic, funny and tender. I sat in the corner, amazed and intimidated and I stayed quiet. Maybe I took a few pictures, maybe not. At about 4 in the morning, I went to sleep on the floor in another room. A few hours later I woke up, looked in his room and saw him asleep, also on the floor, in front of his bed. Now, 27 years later, I try to remember how I felt seeing him laying there so fragile. I did take a picture then, and I picked him up in my arms and carried him to his bed and I went out into the daylight to discover Cabbagetown." - Michael Ackerman