C H R I S T I A N P A T T E R S O N : Redheaded Peckerwood
29 June - 3 August, 2013
Redheaded Peckerwood is Christian Patterson’s second major body of photographs and the subject of his highly acclaimed monograph, published by MACK in 2011. The book has been called an “instant classic” and was named one of the best books of the year by Art in America, the New York Times, TIME and the Guardian among many others. Last year the book was awarded the prestigious Recontres d'Arles Author Book Award and it is currently in its third printing.
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 killing spree across Nebraska to their point of capture in Douglas, Wyoming. The images record places and objects central to the story, depict ideas inspired by it, and capture other moments and discoveries along the way.
Christian Patterson does not attempt to piece together the precise circumstances of the murders, or any over-arching narrative; rather, he creates images that speak to the themes he considers fundamental to the story—angst, love, rebellion, escape, violence, and loss of innocence. He borrows certain points freely and boldly mixes them with fictional elements, using photography as his primary tool.
Redheaded Peckerwood utilizes and plays with an 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. From a technical perspective, the photographs incorporate and reference the techniques of photojournalism, forensic photography, image appropriation, reenactment, documentary, and landscape photography. On a conceptual level, they deal with a charged landscape and play with photographic representation and truth as Patterson deconstructs the pre-existing narrative.
While photographs are the heart of this work, the artist has combined them with documents and objects belonging to the killers and their victims—a map, poem, confession letter, stuffed animal, and hood ornament—which are exhibited alongside his photographic prints.