The 7786 - Burroughs, Wm. print project presents a unique look at one of the most iconic, brilliant, controversial and subversive authors of the 20th Century. Discovered amongst a photo archive of more than 20,000 negatives, this previously unseen series of William Burroughs portraits gives us a rare and intimate glimpse at Burroughs and explores the concepts of iconography and identity performance.
Presented in a small-format hardcover photo book, this project asks readers to think about choices made by Burroughs while in the studio and his selection of a single portrait for use in promoting an upcoming personal appearance. This book dissects the image of a cultural icon and exposes a process in the creation and perpetuation of celebrity image.
I recovered the last remaining archive of Lawrence-based photographer Robert “Bob” Blank in summer 2014. Blank owned and operated Hixon Studios in Lawrence for more than 40 years, having purchasing it from Orval Hixon in 1930. Blank operated the Hixon Photo and Camera Shop at 721 Massachusetts Street until its closure in the 1990’s.
The archive includes portraits of some recognizable Lawrence personalities. Local real estate developer and KU alumnus Bob Billings and former Miss America Deborah Bryant were among them. Also discovered were seven previously unseen portrait negatives of author, and longtime Lawrence resident William S. Burroughs.
Regarded as one of the most subversive authors of the 20th Century, he was a member of the Beat Generation along with Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. His most notorious book Naked Lunch is a regular on “must read” and banned book lists.
Finding a photo of William Burroughs smiling is rare. A Google Images search for “William Burroughs photo” produced hundreds of images. Of the first 100 images Burroughs smiles in only three. By comparison, among the same 100 images, Burroughs is holding some type of weapon seven times and smoking a cigarette 16 times. In an interview with the William Burroughs 100 Website, photographer Philip Heying discussed his relationship, with Burroughs in the years before his death. Heying described Burroughs as keenly aware of and in control of when photos were taken of him, rarely allowing a candid photo.If Burroughs was as controlling as Heying described, was he actively perpetuating a particular cultural image of himself? Did that image preclude the perception of happiness?
The 7786-Burroughs, Wm. and Bob Blank: Portraits of Distinction projects are a team effort! Though the projects have been spearheaded by Patrick Clement, there is a dedicated team of contributors guiding the projects along.
Luke Jordan - Lecturer, Department of Visual Arts, University of Kansas. Specialist of Photography and Works on Paper, Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, Kansas. Faculty project advisor and Undergraduate and Interdisciplinary Research Grant Mentor.
Tamara Falicov - Department Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Film and Media Studies, University of Kansas. Faculty advisor and Undergraduate and Interdisciplinary Research Grant Mentor.
Josiah Morgan - Director of Photography and Tin Type Photographer, Peachtree Corners, Georgia.
Erin Mickelson - Artists, owner, book binder at Broken Cloud Press, Portland, Oregon.
A full-time University of Kansas Film and Media Major, I am originally from Boston, Massachusetts. While working in television and film production in Los Angeles I made The Eternal Pitfall of Prokofiev, a 16mm black-and-white silent German expressionist homage film, and Funny Business, a noir crime film set in Rhode Island. In 2007 I traveled to Greensburg, Kansas, working on the production team of the Planet Green Docu-Drama Greensburg.
I returned to Greensburg in 2011, taking a job as the editor of The Kiowa County Signal. I received seven Kansas Press Association Awards for photography, graphic design and feature writing in 2012. That same year I published my first book Small Town: a pictorial look at 1940’s rural America. The book, a photo-essay on rural, mid-century Kansas, was culled from a collection of snapshots of a southwestern Kansas ghost town and was funded through Kickstarter.I also produced a short companion documentary titled Small Town.
In 2013 I relocated to Lawrence, Kansas to complete post-production on my film Somewhere Between Freedom and Protection, Kansas while enrolled in the Film and Media Department at the University of Kansas. Freedom and Protection has won the Audience Choice Best Short Film at the 2014 Free State Film Festival and has been an official selection at the Harvard College Film Festival, the South Dakota Film Festival, the Big Bear Lake International Film Festival, SNOB Film Festival in Concord, New Hampshire and the International Kortfilm Festival in Uppsala, Sweden.
In addition to the Burroughs and Hixon projects I am currently researching my biography on Garden City, Kansas dust bowl/exaggeration photographer Frank Conard.
Risks and challenges
We have an amazing team who are brilliant, dedicated artisans. Preparations, largely due to our grant application requirements, have been finished, now we just need you!
However, we did encounter a complexity when determining quantity and book price. We wanted to create a limited edition, personal, handcrafted book while keeping the price point within reach of Burroughs fans. Ultimately, because we kept the single copy price to $30, and the quantity at 750 pieces, we need to sell higher quantities of the books to cover printing costs. We chose to offer a lower priced book, hoping to get a higher volume of supporters. So share and support!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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