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Views - faces of literature

Portraits of famous contemporary writers


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views - faces of literature

OwnerWerner Pawlok
CreatedDec 26, 2007 at 04:29pm
Pictures65 images
Viewed61659 times
DescriptionThere's not much time before or after the individual performances by international authors at this top-flight series of readings in the large hall of the Kaufleuten Restaurant in Zurich. Pawlok tells Jonathan Franzen about the set-up and the special appeal of the technique. It's always the same set-up, using reduced technical means: the ring flash and the 8x10” Polaroid camera. Always the same light illuminating the different faces, careers, lives. The portraits are one-offs, unlike the usual 20, 50 or 100 shots in a session from which one picture is chosen. Pawlok presses the shutter button two times. Two pictures are taken. One is for the writer and the other for Pawlok's "Contemporary Writers" series.

Something else is special: writer and camera are only 20 centimetres apart - on a collision course. This technical necessity is part of the appeal of a portrait technique that relies on the chance of the moment. And on how much the writer is willing to give away. Just as the writers are different in their characters and works, they are different in their reactions to this portrait situation.

Some are relaxed, confident, open. Others are irritated by the closeness between the photographer and his subject. But the results always give us a deeper view.

"I want to look inside your soul," Pawlok tells Franzen, explaining the closeness of the inquisitive lens. "You won't see inside my soul!" says Franzen, and he keeps his glasses on as a protective shield. But is he right?

Other portraits in the "Contemporary Writers" series: Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Leon de Winter, T.C. Boyle, Adam Thirlwell, Martin Walser, Armin Mueller-Stahl... to be continued
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