Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Coupla Books And A Gallery

Stopped over at Carte Blanche gallery the other day to check what was on the walls (always something good) as well as the bookshelves (likewise). I finally made my way over to this rather unattractive looking book with an ugly, blurry cover that I had purposely saved for last due to its unappealing appearance, and discovered it was none other than the much touted Redheaded Peckerwood.

To be perfectly honest, if I was still making twice what I make now- I would have bought it. Once past the cover, I could at least understand what all the talk was about- it's not so much a photography book, as it is an "art" book. Thematically based on the killers featured in Badlands, it contains drawings, lists, historical documentation, and various inserts and fold outs- in addition to Christian Patterson's fine art photographs and occasional illustrative kitsch. Peckerwood goes the extra mile for a total "art experience," and from the reviews- it most definitely seems to have succeeded. This concept is certainly not new when it comes to other books in the art realm, in photography, a bit less so. Jim Goldberg has attempted more personal, multifaceted approaches in several of his book projects, as has Bill Burke in I Want To Take Picture, and Mine Fields- and I'm sure they're not the only two examples. Based on its critical success, you can bet Redheaded Peckerwood will serve as a template for further photographic exploration in books to come...

What really caught my eye however, was the wonderfully understated Road Ends In Water by Eliot Dudik. Comprised mostly of rural landscapes in South Carolina, it has a very serene presence, a tranquility that perhaps belies a certain sense of unease and underlying tension. Although photographed to document these environs before the consequences of development, a lot of the isolated areas depicted look like they were made to hide whatever one would want to bury deep and forgotten. Perhaps Eva Leitolf's photographs have scarred me for life from ever relaxing when immersed in tranquil environments and imagery. Nevertheless, isn't the photo of a spendidly large and graceful multi-armed tree covered with Spanish Moss named The Hanging Tree?

Despite my "misgivings," these photographs by Eliot Dudik demand to be seen- over and over again, if only for their beauty.

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