To: Bill Dane
From: Ben Lifson (Photography critic at the Village Voice from 1977-1982)
Sent: August 16, 2009
Thank you very much indeed for having sent me this link to your work.
I've had time this morning to look only at the most recent Volume 9.
This is not only excellent work but also among the most important current photography I've seen ...
I can think of nothing better and very little even in the same league...
From the little I've glimpsed of Orozco's work, there's some kinship.
But I can't think of anything this strong, wide-ranging (what a net you're casting over our culture!), surprising (no sensibility more open)...
Of subject matter so various...
Of style so flexible...
Of literacy (w/ respect to photography, painting and popular imagery) so vast and deep...
Of variations on motifs and themes so strenuous and searching...
Of compositions so original but w/ roots so obviously in the great past...
And so on.
Yours is history at its best, committed, passionate, & the kind of making that makes Gibbon and Clarendon also monuments of English imaginative prose. (See Clarendon's famous account of the assassination of the Duke of Buckingham.)
Documentary? Yes, of course. But in the sense of Ezra Pound's statement, when he called poetry (or, perhaps, literature generally) "News that stays news."
It deserves to be universally known.
What plans for exhibitions (here, abroad), books? Keep me posted.
Thank you again. This is strong, significant work and a good jolt on a Sunday morning.
"Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamaling
To keep a drowsy emperor awake..."
- William Butler Yeats, Sailing to Byzantium
Good to hear from you.