...The last century, not this one, but still, this is going to be fascinating.
Bill Eggleston has been one of the most influential American photographers of his era, and the "democratic forest" project has long been his White Whale. An earlier version under the same name was a tepid collection of samplings, but the gist of the project is volume: legend has it that Eggleston, who is independently wealthy, used to hire an entire photo lab during its off hours, and he and his assistants would work in a frenzy to churn out thousands of work prints. The number of the pictures in the democratic forest project, in lore and rumor, has risen and risen.
Enter Steidl, the peripatetic, nearly compulsive German printer of overwhelming numbers of photobooks. If Gerhard Steidl has any flaw, it's inclusiveness: he likes to get everything in. Not for he the high points: he insists on the kitchen sink.
It's the opposite of my own tendency, which is to prefer well-cultivated representative examples. I don't want every record a band ever put out; I want the two or three best things, which sometimes means the two or three best songs, and that's enough. So, for Eggleston, I have the essential William Eggleston's Guide and Michael Almereyda's exquisitely judged and beautifully presented For Now in my own collection. That's enough for me: it gives the gist of him.
But for better or worse the White Whale and Ahab are meeting, folks (call Steidl the Pequod in my overextended metaphor), and there are going to be splinters flying before everyone dies in the end. (Way overextended now.) the new version of The Democratic Forest will be the real thing: more than 1,000 pictures from the 12,000 photographs that the original project consisted of.
In honor of this event, shall I try yet again to read Moby-Dick?
This is going to beinteresting...!
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