Joel Peter Witkin

A video I put together as a tribute to the work of photographer Joel Peter Witkin

Joel Peter Witkin's photographic creativity was formed by an accident he was witness to as a small child... A car accident in front of his residence resulted in the decapitation of a small girl...

he is quoted as saying;

"It happened on a Sunday when my mother was escorting my twin brother and me down the steps of the tenement where we lived. We were going to church. While walking down the hallway to the entrance of the building, we heard an incredible crash mixed with screaming and cries for help. The accident involved three cars, all with families in them. Somehow, in the confusion, I was no longer holding my mother's hand. At the place where I stood at the curb, I could see something rolling from one of the overturned cars. It stopped at the curb where I stood. It was the head of a little girl. I bent down to touch the face, to speak to it -- but before I could touch it someone carried me away".

his photographs reveal in their element of the grotesque portraits of the human condition which he dares to portray in diverse visions that breach the lines of our conceptions of decency and normality. His subjects are the outcasts of human society and his use of corpses in his photographic compositions have led to controversy.

He often references the fine arts in his works; amongst artists such as Picasso, Miro', de Chirico , Bosch, Goya and Botticelli... notable influences have been references to early daguerreotypes and the work of photographer E.J. Bellocq.

In 1961- 1964 he worked as a war photographer in the Vietnam War;  after '74 he gained a master in Fine Arts at the University of Albuquerque, New Mexico where he currently resides.

HIs images are strong and at times may be hard to digest; yet his photographic genius stands out amongst the carnage and this same feeling of repulsion and attraction his photographs ignite in the viewer mirror the sensations evoked in confrontation with the darker aspects of human character.

Anna Maria Antoinette D'Addario

Music in video: 'Marla' by Grizzly Bear