Wednesday, April 6, 2011

At Long Last!

Shortly after graduating from Columbia College in the 80's I was fortunate to live in Paris for just over a year with a scholarship from the French. The experience had a profound impact on my life and shaped who and what I am today. One day I happened to wander into a Parisian cemetery in the 20th arrondissement , taken aback by what I saw. Here I was in the heart of Paris walking through a sprawling "City of the Dead", an architectural wonder in various stages of decay. As I marched by the graves of luminaries of the arts and sciences, I passed mausoleum doors hanging by their hinges, sacred contents  open to the public,  distant wails of feral cats drifting through the mist. I vowed to return with camera in hand before my scholarship ended but Paris' lighter side kept me from returning.
I settled in Chicago, married, had a family and went about the business of supporting myself and my loved ones. Over the course of the next 10 years I focused my attention on building a successful  architectural studio until one day my interest in Pere Lachaise was rekindled. In a local paper I read of a recent controversy in Paris over the proposed removal and relocation of remains buried in Pere Lachaise.
At that moment, I began to plan my return. After getting approval to shoot in the cemetery, I returned in 1994 with an assistant and shot 200+ images, from sunrise to sunset for two weeks. Over the following years, I mounted several successful exhibitions of B&W Piezography Carbon prints. The next logical step, a book, proved to be more daunting than the return and exhibition of the final work. After several near misses with publishers I happened upon another article, this time discussing the merits of a public funding website, Kickstarter. It seemed like a perfect fit; if I could share my passion for and photography of Pere Lachaise with the public I might be able to realize my dream, sharing my work in book form . I submitted, was accepted and here I am writing my first blog entry at the start of the final phase of a slow dance lasting over 20 years.

I will post Pere Lachaise images weekly; you can also check the links for more info on the cemetery. I expect to have my Kickstarter page posted in the next couple of weeks and will keep you updated on the logistics of creating that page. Once I am up and running I will also keep you posted on my progress as well as providing a link so you can visit my project page on Kickstarter.

I look forward to your comments and I hope you enjoy the work. Who knows, maybe you'll want a copy of the book and end up being a supporter on Kickstarter.

Merci, Mark

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