July 14, 2005

raise my rent and turn the clocks back

by Ralph Gibson

* from an interview of Ralph Gibson, by Kristine McKenna, from talk to her.

KM: Garry Winnogrand once told you, "It's guys like you that are the problem with photography." What did he mean by that?

RG: He was expressing the fact that he hated my guts. First of all, I was Robert Frank's assistant and there was always something between the two of them. It's an interesting story, what happened with those two. In the 50s, a bunch of photographers that included Louis Faure, Robert Frank, Sid Grossman and Garry Winnogrand were around , and strangely enough, Louis Faure was the one the art world chose to back as the great talent. Louis loved girls, though, and he went off to Paris to shoot fashion so he could score models. He basically walked on a huge career, at which point Robert came through the door. Steichen became a mentor to Robert, who was also the protege of Walker Evans, and Evans and Steichen got Robert the Guggenheim that allowed him to do The Americans, which is a masterpiece. Robert then quit. Winnogrand was doing really sensitive early work and the art world wanted somebody from that generation, so it fell to Winnogrand by default.
KM: In 1971 [your publishing company] published Larry Clark's legendary photo essay on a gang of Oklahoma speed freaks, Tulsa. Did you have any idea at the time of impact that book would have?

RG: I knew it was a very good book, so I said to Larry, "Let's do it," and Robert Frank went to Danny Seymour who gave us $5,000 to publish it.
KM: Why does love die?

RG: Because it's finite. It's fixed in the stars that there are a certain number of kisses to every love story and not one more. Love stories that seem to go on forever simply haven't exhausted that final kiss. Putting people on a couch because they're having trouble in love is ridiculous. Nobody's asked to sign a contract saying, "I agree to be successful," or "I agree to be healthy." But you're supposed to sign a contract that says I agree to be happy in love. It doesn't work that way.

* 40 things that can only happen in movies. excerpt:

6. If you decide to start dancing in the street, everyone you bump into will know all the steps.

14. On a police stake-out, the action will only ever take place when food is being consumed and scalding hot coffees are perched precariously on the dashboard . . .

37. Most musical instruments (especially wind instruments and accordions) can be played without moving your fingers.

* Not surprising: one in three Americans believe in ghosts.

* Afternoon Delight: Join DC's Leafy Green and Pittsburgh's Mike Tamburo Saturday July 16 for some acoustic guitar meditations at Takoma Park's Sangha (7014 Westmoreland Ave.) Strumming begins at 5pm.


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