Copyright Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison 2000 published by Twin Palms Publishers
Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison’s photobook The Architect’s Brother is a beautiful enigma. The book is composed of eight sections that were developed over a span of seven years (1993 – 2000). The sections are sequenced serially, The Architect’s Brother (1993 – 1994), Cardboard Sky (1994), Witnessland (1995 – 1996), Exhausted Globe (1997), Industrial Land (1997), Promisedland (1998), Earth Elegies (1999 – 2000), and Kingdom (2000).
I find it easy to become visually captivated with the underlying techniques that the ParkeHarrison’s utilized to create and embellish these magical photographs; the elaborate staged sets, backdrop paintings, and complex sculptural structures of their own invention. The reader will also recognize one consistent individual who is found within each photograph, as the subject for these photographs is Robert ParkeHarrison, who portrays the role that has become known as “everyman”.
This body of work has been written about frequently since its inception over the past thirteen years, with one statement by Marc Ruby that I think summarizes it well; “Many of the images are ambivalent, touching on both darkness and light, making a clear decision impossible. The figure seems melancholy, engaged in strange almost hopeless acts. But he persists, carrying on a quest intended to heal or repair a desolate world.”
The ParkeHarrisons have stated “We create works in response to the ever-bleakening relationship linking humans, technology, and nature. These works feature an ambiguous narrative that offers insight into the dilemma posed by science and technology’s failed promise to fix our problems, provide explanations, and furnish certainty pertaining to the human condition. Strange scenes of hybridizing forces, swarming elements, and bleeding overabundance portray Nature unleashed by technology and the human hand.”
The hard cover folio is in black cloth with a tipped-in print on the front boards. The photobook used in conjunction with this review is from the 7th printing, whereas the first edition has a dark blue cloth and tipped-in print. The first edition was initially attributed only to Robert ParkeHarrison but in subsequent printings his wife Shana, his artistic partner, is included as a co-author of the work. For the second edition, another chapter, Passage created in 2001, was included with an additional five plates.
Other Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison book reviewed on the The Photobook: counterpoint
Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook Journal
enigmatic, enchanting – and very, very beautiful!
Interesting. Very esoteric!
Hi, Would you happen to know how many plates/chapters are in all the different editions? I have the first edition which has 52 plates and seven chapters. Subsequent editions have either eight chapters or nine chapters. Thanks!
Hi Susan, I am not aware of the changes for this book in subsequent printings. You might want to contact the publisher directly.
The 1st edition is the best, Robert wasn’t so happy with the printing after that. I met them both in Cork when they were doing an artists residence there a few years ago, they were exhibiting a few of the images full size, paper negs onto discontinued Kodak paper, plus varnish etc….truly stunning. If I had a spare $12000 I’d buy the sold out 21st Century book with platinum prints, now THATS the book you want…!!
Richard, I was not a happy camper in not obtaining the first edition from Twin Palms, but I am very happy to have this edition in my collection. A classic as evidenced by how many print runs completed to date.
Hi Doug….When I travelled to Ireland to stay in Cork and meet Robert and Shana I was a photography student…..before I left the UK I was assured that there would be signed books there to purchase, at the talk that Robert was giving about this work. Despite the exhibition and talk being in the relatively small artists residence/ gallery space, in Cork, in the middle of nowhere….and despite my early arrival in the afternoon before the talk, and despite the small crowd who actually managed to turn up that evening ( in fact, were it not for my constant questions about the work, technique etc etc the talk would’ve last 5 minutes…it lasted over an hour…)…despite all of this….the few books that Robert and Shana brought with them were all gone before I arrived, again despite having reserved one beforehand….some I believe having been sent on to the next gallery space in Dublin…So I left Ireland without a signed copy. I did get one later however….I spent an afternoon and evening with the artists the next day chatting about everything, which was a real treat, and a reward for my studious journey to get there. I don’t think the added plates in the later editions added much to the original work to be honest….Cheers. Richard