JOEL PETER WITKIN - THE NEW POPE OF PHOTOGRAPHY
By Cindy Marler
On the 19th of May I was invited to Paris for two days to pose as a
model for the famous and controversial American photographer Joel Peter
Witkin's new series of work. A tryptich on the subject of Man and Woman.
I had met him in April at the opening of the Manfred Heiting Collection
at the Rijksmusem. After a short exchange about trivial things he asked
me if I was interested in working with him. At first I thought it was
a joke, but within a week I had received the request again this time
in the form of a DHL letter with drawings from himself. Finding the
experience of seeing first hand the"Master" at work attractive,
I agreed to go down on the condition that all my expenses were paid,
I would receive a "gift print" as payment. I also asked him
if I could interview him about his work and photograph him. He agreed.
Here follow extracts of the interviews in Paris. 19th and 20th May 2001.
'You call yourself a Western Christian Artist. Can you explain
'My work is has two different parallel sources. The first source is
that I really believe the only way to live is with sublime understanding.
That's what we should be working towards and achieving in our lifetime.
My work is about that dyconomy, between the finite - the secular, and
the infinite - the spiritual, and since I have a belief, I've never
been in the position of thinking 'I am here but don't know why', in
other words people say 'I was born, I lived, I died'. For me that is
complete confusion. It is not a basis of life. There is this wonderful
saying "If I'm not for myself who will be? but if I'm only for
myself what am I?" I consider myself a Western Christian artist,
and the basis that I hang all this stuff on is belief.
I'm reading a book about the life of Mary written by a nun in the 17th
century. This nun received spiritual information in the form of impluses
about the life of Mary. She wrote the information down with the help
of a priest advisor, but when he died he was replaced by another priest
who looked at the material and told the nun to throw it away. Being
disciplined she burned it. When this was found out the priest was reprimanded
because the information that the nun was receiving was prophecy, belief.
The nun started the whole process again and before she died the book
was published and has been around ever since.
In the prayer Hail Mary Full of Grace, grace symbolises the impulse
from providence of how we get the inspiration to continue the process
of Creation and Spiritual evolution, not Darwinistic evolution.'