Sunday, March 04, 2007

Snake Eyes - Weifenbach and Gossage


Okay, I realise this is about the umpteenth post about John Gossage as well as Terri Weifenbach, but I finally got hold of a copy of their joint book Snake Eyes. All I can say is WOW.

First, I hadn't twigged that the book was so big. It's about 13x18 and beautifully put together. I can't quite imagine how the prints would look on a wall, but I can say there's a big disconnect between how the pictures look on the internet and how they look in the book (though as Gossage says; "Books are better than exhibitions").



Luis Gottardi commented that; "Weifenbach's work brings to mind Hugher Foote's, but is more emotionally expressive & less analytical. The color seems a little on the decorative side." In fact, once you have the book in your hands, rather than decorative, when the colour photographs are up to 11x14 or so, they are quite powerful and actually take on a slightly daunting, almost threatening feel - very different from "pretty" colour (which is how they can come across online). Coming close, in my mind, to the original pre-Romantic notion of "sublime" - of awe, confusion and uncertainty.



The counterpoint of Gossage's black and white images is fascinating. The whole book really quite draws you in (btw, there are a lot more of the colour photographs to pick from online than the b&w ones).


Here's a couple of things they had to say about the book in an interview from Photoeye:


"Terri: I think that photographers as a general rule edit from the world. They take what is in the image as the content. Painters have to construct and as a result the content isn’t always the imagery. You have experiences that take you far beyond what's recorded in the image. I have stepped into a particular position by stating that beauty is more than simple entertainment. Beauty has depth. And that position is a mine field in photography. Snake Eyes is of a place that we have proposed as being beautiful and I’m offering this as a serious body of work.

Terri: We had different reasons for pairing different photographs. For example, I had an image that was like a dark fairy tale, so John picked photographs of his own to place opposite, which held up that idea.




John: The images 19-22/XII are an example. Terri's photograph shows a church, though you know that only because of the shape of the window. I wanted to show four photographs alongside that image, but not a sequence of four photographs. I wanted the viewer to question, "Why are these connected?" In order to figure that out, one has to really look at the photographs. That's where I want to point you. They aren’t explicitly connected, but then, you've just spent time closely looking at four pictures. That’s the ‘work’ for me. It makes people either uncomfortable or fascinated"



I've got some time this week to sit down and do some research, and this is one of several book I want to spend some time with. I certainly don't think it will be time wasted

I also got a copy of Gossage's Berlin in the Time of the Wall, and again, I must say this is a stunning book too. It's packed and dense and needs a lot of time and attention, but that too will be time well spent.

(P.S. - I recently saw Terri described as "the Emily Dickinson of photography" - now, I'm sure that's very nice and in many ways quite fitting (I think I always saw Emily as a colour sort of girl, never b&w, for one thing). But would you actually want someone to make that kind of comparison? I'm sure it's very flattering and all, but if someone described me as the T.S. Eliot or the W.H. Auden of photography (and it 'ain't going to happen...), I mean - how the heck do you live up to that, unless you have an ego like The Donald?)


4 comments:

Federico said...

tim, good catch! it looks really nice. and from a quick search i have found that it is almost impossible to get one. the only copy i found fetched 495 bucks...

tim atherton said...

There's acually one on abe.com for $280 - which is a bit over the original price. But lets say that's rather more than I could afford when I got this...

archivue said...

an other must have book from terri weifenbach : hunter green, nazraelli press...

tim / ninththing.blogspot.com said...

Terri is one of my teachers at the Corcoran. Her color class has changed how I look at just about everything. Hearing her talk about photography, not just her own, is amazing. Shes an incredible teacher.