The Seven Never Before Published Portraits of Edward Weston, 1974
Softcover, unpaginated (20 pp.), with eight black and white and color illustrations. 8.375” x 5.375”
This project derives from a similar concept as the Baseball-Photographer Trading Cards, an interest in satirizing the celebrity of famous photographers, in this case, Edward Weston. Weston had been considered somewhat of a cult figure owing to the publication of his diaries as the “Daybooks” that not only chronicled his professional life, but also made public his more private side, including his sexual conquests that enabled much of his nude studies and portraits. The Seven Never Before Published Portraits of Edward Weston is also a “mail art” piece as all of the material for the book was received as mailed responses to a letter and questionnaire that I sent out to thirty-five people throughout the United States named Edward Weston. Pre-internet, I found their names in my local library in telephone books of major U.S. cities. Of the thirty-five Westons, seven responded. The entirety of the mailed responses comprise the book. They provided to me photographs of themselves and answered biographical questions. But what was most surprising was that the project turned out to be much more compelling than my original intention. The Seven Never Before Published Portraits of Edward Weston is really about how seven different individuals revealed themselves to me in ways that I could never imagine. The kinds of portraits that they each chose to portray themselves, their unique answers to the questionnaire, their handwriting, and appended notes to me turn the project upside down. One Edward Weston relates that “I have a son, C. Edward Weston living in the N. Miami, Florida area. I’m sorry I don’t have his address.” A father not knowing where his son lives, a wife writing about her deceased husband, a long personal letter instead of my questionnaire... Each of the seven Edward Westons give me an image or some small piece of writing that is a flash of insight about who they might be. The book started out to skewer Weston, the mythic photographer. It ends up being about catching a glimpse of the sincerity and generosity of seven random real people.
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