Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gedney at Duke

I've just started reading Geoff Dyer's newish essay/review collection Otherwise Known as the Human Condition, and Dyer has already led me to an amazing find - the online William Gedney archive at Duke University. Dyer co-edited a book of Gedney's photographs and writings (most of which apparently went unpublished during his lifetime), and the photos of India seem to have been a major influence on Dyer's excellent Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi. The book, What Was True, seems to be out of print and selling for four to five times its original $35 list price online, but the Duke website will do nicely until I can get my hands on a copy. Besides the Benares/Varanasi photos and the photos of Kentucky, Haight-Ashbury, and Brooklyn (Gedney was a longtime resident and chronicler of Myrtle Ave - his notebooks on the subject are like the Brooklyn Arcades Project) that Dyer mentions in his essay, my favorite find so far in the archive is a mockup of a planned book on contemporary composers, with great photos of just about all the big names of Gedney's time - Partch, Feldman, Wolpe, and the big Bs and Cs: Babbitt, Barber and Bernstein, Cage, Carter and Copland.

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