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Press Release

Heart Beats Dust
New Work

April 28 through June 18, 2005
Reception for the Artist, Thursday, April 28, 7 - 9 p.m.

The Fahey/Klein Gallery is pleased to present new work by renowned photographer Joel-Peter Witkin. "Heart Beats Dust" showcases Witkin's infamous style with the body as a still life; Witkin creates narratives, and fictional scenarios, while exploring relationships between art history and photography. Always working with difficult subject matter, Witkin's images are powerful and challenging to the viewer. He has said of his work, "The themes of my work are: what constitutes human existence, history, human beauty. The work has at its very core the evidence of conscience presented as photographic metaphor. I strive to create experiences no one has seen before and which no one has felt before."

By using imagery and symbols from the past, Witkin celebrates our history while constantly redefining its present day context. Witkin explains, "In this most violent and visually wallpapered age, I have chosen to evoke the darkness rather than the light…" The resulting photographs are haunting and beautiful, grotesque yet bold. Witkin begins each image by sketching his ideas on paper, perfecting every detail by arranging the scene before he gets into the studio to stage his elaborate tableaus. Once photographed, Witkin spends hours in the darkroom, scratching and piercing his negatives, transforming them into images that look made rather than taken. Through printing, Witkin reinterprets his original idea in a final act of adoration.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., he credits his father for his introduction to photography. In his 1995 book "Witkin," the photographer writes: "I began making photographs when I was sixteen. That same year, Edward Steichen selected one of my photographs to be included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. That was the beginning of a life devoted to photography." Joel-Peter Witkin is also included in the distinguished collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, San Francisco Museum of Art, J. Paul Getty Museum, National Gallery of Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum among many others. He has also won numerous awards, recently the Decorated Commandeur de l'Order des Arts et des Lettres from France.