Friday, October 19, 2012

Redheaded Peckerwood by Christian Patterson

One of the most notable photobooks of 2011, currently available in the second edition, Redheaded Peckerwood was nominated for a variety of prizes and was awarded the prestigious Recontres d'Arles Author Book Award.

The publisher's blurb nicely describes the project and the way it integrated diverse elements into an integrated whole.
Redheaded Peckerwood is a work with a tragic underlying narrative – the story of 19 year old Charles Starkweather and 14 year old Caril Ann Fugate who murdered ten people, including Fugate’s family, during a three day killing spree across Nebraska to the point of their capture in Douglas, Wyoming. The images record places and things central to the story, depict ideas inspired by it, and capture other moments and discoveries along the way.

From a technical perspective, the photographs incorporate and reference the techniques of photojournalism, forensic photography, image appropriation, reenactment and documentary landscape photography. On a conceptual level, they deal with a charged landscape and play with a photographic representation and truth as the work deconstructs a pre-existing narrative.

Redheaded Peckerwood also utilizes and plays with a pre-existing archive of material, deliberately mixing fact and fiction, past and present, myth and reality as it presents, expands and re-presents the various facts and theories surrounding this story.

While photographs are the heart of this work, they are the complemented and informed by documents and objects that belonged to the killers and their victims – including a map, poem, confession letter, stuffed animal, hood ornament and various other items, in several cases, these materials are discoveries first made by the artists and presented here for the first time.

In book form, the work is presented as a sort of visual crime dossier, including pieces of paper which are inserted into the book. The many individual pieces included serve as cues and clues within the visual puzzle. In this way, there are connections that are left to the viewer to be made and mysteries that are left to be solved.
 Joel Colberg's video review of Redheaded Peckerwood by Christian Patterson (available here):

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