Wednesday, September 01, 2010

"The Pond" by John Gossage

I'm pleased to see that Aperture is re-publishing John Gossage's seminal 1985 book The Pond. (I've written about John Gossage several times before: The Romance Industry; Putting Back The Wall; Snake Eyes).

"Considered a groundbreaking book when first published in 1985, John Gossage's The Pond remains one of the most important photobooks of the medium. As Gerry Badger, coauthor of
The Photobook: A History, Volumes I and II, asserts, "Adams, Shore, Baltz--all the New Topographics photographers made great books, but none are better than The Pond." Consisting of photographs taken around and away from a pond situated in an unkempt wooded area at the edge of a city, the volume presents a considered foil to Henry Thoreau's stay at Walden. The photographs in The Pond do not aspire to the "beauty" of classical landscapes in the tradition of Ansel Adams. Instead, they reveal a subtle vision of reality on the border between man and nature. Gossage depicts nature in full splendor, yet at odds with both itself and man, but his tone is ambiguous and evocative rather than didactic. Robert Adams described the work as "believable because it includes evidence of man's darkness of spirit, memorable because of the intense fondness [Gossage] shows for the remains of the natural world." Aperture now reissues this exquisitely produced and highly collectible classic monograph. With the addition of three images and two essays, this second edition offers new audiences the opportunity to celebrate this notable work by a master photographer and bookmaker."

To my mind The Pond is one of the more important photography books of the last fifty years and stands (preceded by Walker Evans' American Photographs) with William Eggleston's Guide, Stephen Shore's Uncommon Places and Paul Graham's A1: The Great North Road among a few others.

I have a rare copy of the original which is one of my more valued photography books, but I'll look forward to seeing the new edition.

Now all we need is for someone to republish Michael Schmidt's Waffenruhe... any takers?

More to come on John Gossage's new book(s) The Thirty-Two Inch Ruler / Map of Babylon soon.

(Update) P.S. The first exhibition of the photographs from The Pond has just opened at the Smithsonion American Art Museum and is on until January. Interesting little comment here:

"EXPRESS: What does the pond represent?
GOSSAGE:The pond is a literary monologue, a narrative landscape book, character development — all of it. ... It's set in Queenstown, but a few of the shots were actually taken in Berlin. I won't tell which ones. I wanted to speak metaphorically about nature and civilization, which I realized halfway through my project. It's a work of documentary fiction. The sites are universally trivial. There are many ponds, and that one may not even be there anymore."
(my emphasis)

(All photographs: John Gossage - The Pond)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

hey tim - the pond is opening here at the national gallery of art today. i'll check it out and report back - come for a visit!