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Cowin, Eileen. EILEEN COWIN. Tokyo, Japan: Gallery Min, 1987. Softcover. First Edition/First Printing. Unpaginated. Fine.

Landmark collection of photographs. Published in a very small and limited print run as a paperback original only by a Japanese gallery. An elegant production by Gallery Min: Oversize-volume format in square shape. Pictorial softcovers with white titles on cover and spine, as issued. Photographs by Eileen Cowin. The technical aspect of each photograph is noted at the bottom. The texts consist of brief quotations from a wide array of sources, from David Byrne to Daniel Boorstin to Gustave Flaubert. There is also a brief essay, "Real Images of An Illusory World", by Mark Johnstone. Artist's Resume appended at the end. Without DJ, as issued. Presents what amounts to a fragmentary photo-narrative/"docudrama" involving a couple and their family members, who include elders and children. Since there is no real accompanying text, the images, which demand to be seen in the sequence the photographer presented them, can be said to be about a lot of things. Even the basic "storyline" is wide open to interpretation. The couple seem to be going about their daily life: They eat, date, have fun, go shopping, quarrel, make love. There is an illness in the family; there is an adulterous affair. Towards the end, the images take on an otherworldly, fantastic quality that departs from the realistic, documentary look of everything that came before it. Because each image is described technically at the bottom ("gelatin silver print", "cibachrome", "ektacolor print", and so on), we are constantly reminded that these are just photographs (that, among other things, Gallery Min is offering for sale). Still, Eileen Cowin's point is akin to Jean Cocteau's famous one about art as proof: "I do not narrate the passing through mirrors; I show it, and in some manner, I prove it. The greatest power of a film is to be indisputable with respect to the actions it determines and which are carried out before our eyes" (Jean Cocteau). By showing something, all photographs exist as proof, an "assertion of accuracy in the spirit of maximum vehemence". All photographs may be seen, in Cocteau's dictum, as an attempt to be indisputable with respect to the actions it represents. Cowin quotes The Master himself: "All one's inventions are true, you can be sure of that. Poetry is as exact a science as geometry" (Gustave Flaubert). The more staged the picture, the more it has the feel and look of reality: Cowin's style is closer to Jeff Wall and Philip-Lorca diCorcia than to Nan Goldin's. A remarkable achievement, this is a "must-have" title for Eileen Cowin collectors. This is an Import title and has been out-of-print for a very long time. This is one of extremely few copies still available online and is in fine condition: Every page is clean, crisp, and bright, a beauty. A scarce copy thus. One of the most brilliant living American photographers. A fine copy. . ISBN 4906265154. $50.00

This item is available for purchase. This web page was most recently updated on May 26, 2017.