REBECCA NORRIS WEBB: During a recent lecture in Singapore, you talked a little about the last photographs in your books, which often, in hindsight, have a kind of importance you didn’t realize at the time you were editing the book. Would you talk about this again, specifically in regards to your last book, “The Suffering of Light”?
ALEX WEBB: For me, sometimes the last picture in a book points the way towards the next book or project: the last picture in my first book, Hot Light/Half-Made Worlds, a photograph from Haiti of a child in a sea of fire, seems to lead directly into the turmoil of Under A Grudging Sun, my second book.
The last picture in The Suffering of Light, unlike the bulk of photographs in the book, which are from outside of the United States, was taken in Erie, Pennsylvania, when Rebecca and I were making one of our many trips from NY to South Dakota so she could continue working on her book, My Dakota. As we’ve made these trips, I’ve become intrigued by the notion of photographing more in the US, especially in the declining industrial region that stretches from western NY and Pennsylvania across the midwest. It’ s something Rebecca and I have been talking about doing together.
So it was very gratifying last week for both of us to spend time in this region photographing in Rochester NY as part of the Magnum “House of Pictures” project. We hope in July to return to Rochester to finish what we think will be a small book, Memory City. And perhaps the last photograph of that book will lead us to our next U.S. city to photograph?
SARAH RHODES for Timemachine Magazine: Did your pictures start to change once you decided to make your South Dakota project into an elegy for your brother?
RNW: A few years ago, I remember showing the photographs to Linda Hasselstrom, a South Dakota rancher, who besides being a poet and essayist is an insightful editor, as well as a woman who’s experienced the loss of a husband. During one of her Windbreak House Writing Retreats at her ranch near Hermosa, South Dakota. I was trying to figure out what I had left to photograph and said to her, “Linda, I see summer, fall, and winter in these photographs, but not spring.”
“When you’re grieving, there isn’t any spring,” she replied.
UPCOMING EVENTS: APRIL, MAY & JUNE
MILAN AND BOLOGNA
––FRIDAY, MAY 4, MILAN, ITALY:
4:00 Alex Webb book signing of “La Sofferenza della Luce” @ Contrasto booth, MIA photography festival
7:30: “Together and Apart: Photographs of Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb,” at Forma, which will simultaneously have Alex’s “La Sofferenza della Luce” exhibition in the gallery (Slide talk by invitation only, but former students, friends, member of the Two Looks online community, and press are welcome. Space is limited, so please contact Alex and Rebecca to reserve one of the limited seats: firstname.lastname@example.org)
––SATURDAY, MAY 5TH, MILAN, ITALY: Two book launches, featuring the work of Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb at the MIA photography festival, 8 pm
––MONDAY, MAY 7, BOLOGNA, ITALY: “Together & Apart: Photographs of Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb. 5 pm
––THURSDAY, MAY 24, NEW YORK, NY: My Dakota book launch at ICP, May 24″ href=”http://www.icp.org/events/2012/may/24/book-signing-rebecca-webb-norriss-my-dakota” target=”_blank”>My Dakota book launch, party and book signing at ICP (43d and Sixth Ave), 6-7:30.
RAPID CITY, SD
––FRIDAY, JUNE 1, RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA: “My Dakota” exhibition opening and book party, Dahl Arts Center, 6-8pm. The exhibition will run until October 13, 2012.
SATURDAY, JUNE 9, AT LOOK3 PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL
4-6pm Alex Webb in conversation with noted writer and cultural critic Geoff Dyer
6-7pm: Book signing with Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb at the Second Street Gallery
9pm: “My Dakota” in the WORKS slide show