Redheaded Peckerwood was voted the best photobook of 2011 by dozens and dozens of influential book critics. As such, the first edition quickly sold out, and it is currently listed on the secondary book market at outrageous prices as high as $325. A second edition has been printed and is on its way to your favorite photobook shops now.
This book combines all of the elements of a great mystery story (or mystery game) and encourages the reader to interact with it, discover hidden clues, and try to solve the mystery. It features artifacts that look and feel like real found items tucked into the pages of the book. The photos are mixed with archival real images, new photos of old evidence, and staged photographs that merely hint at sinister activities. One of the most knowledgeable photobook experts I know told me, “You know, I’m having a hard time liking this book as much as everyone else. Why? Because it is just so… perfect.”
Joerg Colberg recently published a great interview with Christian Patterson about this book. You can read that in Colberg's excellent site, Concientious.
The story of the book: Redheaded Peckerwood is a work with a tragic underlying narrative – the story of 19 year old Charles Starkweather and 14 year old Caril Ann Fugate who murdered ten people, including Fugate’s family, during a three day killing spree across Nebraska to the point of their capture in Douglas, Wyoming. The images record places and things central to the story, depict ideas inspired by it, and capture other moments and discoveries along the way.
From a technical perspective, the photographs incorporate and reference the techniques of photojournalism, forensic photography, image appropriation, reenactment and documentary landscape photography. On a conceptual level, they deal with a charged landscape and play with a photographic representation and truth as the work deconstructs a pre-existing narrative.
Redheaded Peckerwood also utilizes and plays with a pre-existing archive of material, deliberately mixing fact and fiction, past and present, myth and reality as it presents, expands and re-presents the various facts and theories surrounding this story.
While photographs are the heart of this work, they are the complemented and informed by documents and objects that belonged to the killers and their victims – including a map, poem, confession letter, stuffed animal, hood ornament and various other items, in several cases, these materials are discoveries first made by the artist and presented here for the first time.In book form, the work is presented as a sort of visual crime dossier, including pieces of paper which are inserted into the book. The many individual pieces included serve as cues and clues within the visual puzzle. In this way, there are connections that are left for the viewer to be made and mysteries that are left to be solved.
by Christian Patterson
98 images, 3 inserts and a booklet
Hardback, 19 cm x 24 cm
Published by MACK
Buy on Amazon