In 1969, Ralph Gibson moved to New York and founded Lustrum Press, which published classics such as his own The Somnambulist (1970) and Tulsa by Larry Clark (1971). The author of more than 40 monographs, Gibson returns to the world stage with his latest volume, Political Abstraction (Lustrum Press/The University of Texas).
Political Abstraction refers to a recent series of color and black-and-white photographic diptychs made in over eight countries, which were born out of a response to the search for visual identity in the digital age. As Gibson observes, “Even though the photographs are made in different countries, they all look like they could be taken around the corner. I travel the world and I see the same picture wherever I go. I always have what I am working on in my mind and I will see reflections of it in the world’s reality. I’m projecting that on to the surface of reality. I think many photographers do that but they are not aware of it.”
As a photographer, Gibson works for himself, but as an author, he creates a new space of communion with the audience. He observes, “When I’m taking photographs, I’m in a dialogue with myself and testing my perceptual apparatus in the world. But I agree with Marcel Duchamp that an artist has a responsibility for the work to be seen. If I am going to make a book, I’m relating to an audience because I am forced to acknowledge that the objects I am creating will inspire a perceptual act in an among themselves. I make books as a way of mapping out my own course through my intelligence. A book is a map of the mind.”
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Images from Political Abstraction by Ralph Gibson, ©Ralph Gibson, published by Lustrum Press and distributed by the University of Texas Press, 2015