A chance meeting in a bookstore

From Vincent Borrelli, Bookseller

I met Gus Blaisdell about thirty years ago – a chance meeting in a bookstore. I was photographing on my first cross-country road trip and I landed in Albuquerque at The Living Batch. Gus showed me Park City by Lewis Baltz. What he didn’t mention is that he wrote the essay for the book – one of the most brilliant essays I’ve ever read about photography and art.

Park City (and a few other influential books) heralded a seismic shift in photography. This astonishing work, which came to be known as the New Topographics, allowed us view the landscape with a new sense of passion, longing, and dread. The style continues to be widely emulated, letting some of us forget the vitality and authority of the original images.

Doors of Memory and Desire

 Photographer Arnold Gassan and Gus Blaisdell 1962-63 in Denver, Colorado                  Stockyard Earth                    

                                                                                Photograph by Robert Voy Stark
NOTES ON THE FILM (GASSAN-BLAISDELL)
Tenative title:   DOORS OF MEMORY AND DESIRE.
Chippewa Poem:
You are Walking around
Trying to remember
What you promised.
But you can’t remember.
I am walking around, trying to remember what I promised, but I can’t remember.
 Can the narration run in a kind of counter-point to the images: first as, say, a description of what  will happen next visually; then as a description of what is or has just happened–  but always keeping to the tone of a specious present.
Camera catches M putting on cracked and broken shoes,
lacing them slowly, hastily, angrily. The laces break.
The foot kicks the shoes off. A hand reaches into the frame,
picks between the toes, moves out of frame.
“I have been walking, too long, too swiftly, sometimes much too swiftly
and much too slowly.”
Camera catches man as he moves towards table.
 I have been walking around, trying to remember what I promised, but I can’t remember…can’t  remember what I desired, what I promised…what it was that I desired so much that it made me  promise…whatever it was I did promise.
Perhaps this is because I’m not used to promising,
to desiring, to remembering even.