Spotlight: Photobook

Marcia Resnick’s staged photographs explore female adolescence

All images © Marcia Resnick

The photographer’s satirical photobook from 1978, Re-visions, becomes available in a new edition

Andy Warhol called it “Bad”, and according to Allen Ginsberg, it was “Sharp…for a girl”. Prompted by a car crash that shook up her life, Marcia Resnick’s 1978 photobook, Re-visions, is an ironic and autobiographical collection of staged photographs about her adolescence. Now, four decades since it was first published in a small sell-out print run, the book is available in a revised second edition.

“My life passed in front of me, it was scary,” remembers Resnick, recalling the car crash that hospitalised for weeks in 1975. “There was nothing to do in hospital, all of my emotions were on the edge.” Attempting to map out the moments that led to the event Resnick began to sketch out a storyboard of photographs. “I wanted to understand the thing that I understood the least in the world — myself,” she says.

Resnick was not used to photographing people; the idea of staging an image was different from photographing circumstantially. Inspired by artists such as Man Ray, August Sander, and surrealist painters, over two years Resnick began to revisualise her memories, combining text and image to augment the irony and humor of the experience of growing up as a woman. 

The original book includes quotes from prominent figures in the art scene, such as Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg, and William Wegman. “These are people who I respected. Often books had endorsements on them, so I thought it was a good idea to get them for mine,” says Resnick. “It is ironic. These people were that way. They weren’t putting me down, we were all laughing together.” 

The revised edition of Re-visions includes more endorsements, including a comment from novelist Kathy Acker, who writes: “Guys such as Allen and William are more supportive than most men”.

The book has a tongue-in-cheek attitude, and it is also an important marker of a capricious time in both the artist’s life and work. “Introspection is the word that comes to mind when I think of this book,” Resnick reflects. “At the time, people were making statements, they weren’t just looking at the world. All of this was an outgrowth from who I was and what I was doing.”

Re-visions by Marcia Resnick is published by Edition Patrick Frey

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