Octavio Paz created TOPOEMS and DISCOS VISUALES in 1966, works that are now virtually unobtainable. They were his first experiments in concrete poetry. In 1972, Robert Gardner, Director of the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts at Harvard, produced NOTATIONS/ROTATIONS yet another such experiment. It is composed of four rotating panels each gradually revealing the four haiku-like poems by Paz as they are rotated.
3 Notations/Rotations was published in an edition of 1,000 copies. 150 were boxed, numbered and signed by the poet and the graphic artist, Toshi Katayama. An additional 26 copies lettered A-Z, signed by the author and artist, were ‘hors de commerce.’ Examples of this work are extremely rare.
The few remaining copies of this project may be ordered from Studio7Arts.
This issue of AGNI Magazine was an effort to take note of the work of an important visual artist by the name of Michael Mazur. Its singularity was that it contained a DVD of a short film by Robert Gardner made about Mazur called Good To Pull. This important literary journal is published at Boston University and is made available here.
This 40th anniversary issue of AGNI is largely devoted to the life and work of the poet Robert Lowell. It contains a portfolio of thirteen black and white photographs chosen from over one hundred taken of Lowell by Robert Gardner. The photographs were developed and remastered by Simon Malkovas and appear in lustrous fashion as a result. This important literary journal is published at Boston University and is made available here.
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This limited edition book is composed of words taken from a journal kept in 1978 by Robert Gardner while he was making the film Deep Hearts and a series of Polaroid SX-70 portraits he made of Borroro dancers’ faces to see if there was any agreement as to what constituted the looks of a perfect male Borroro. Over 100 images were made at the time and yet only a handful were kept by Gardner: the men so desired to posses images of themselves that it was nearly impossible for him to retain them.
32 pages, 6 1/2 x 8 1/2, foil stamped recycled paperboard perfect bound cover with large folding inside flaps. First edition of 250 copies signed and numbered by Robert Gardner, designed by Fogelson-Lubliner, printed February 2009 by Meridian Press.
An online exhibition of these images can be seen at www.luminous-lint.com
This is the first volume of essays dedicated to Gardner’s work—a corpus of aesthetically arresting films which includes the classic Dead Birds, Rivers of Sand, and Forest of Bliss. Eminent anthropologists, philosophers, film theorists, and fellow artists assess the innovations of his films as well as the controversies they’ve spawned.
Published by Berg, 2007
This book came about through a collaboration between Tom Cooper, once a student of Robert Gardner’s at Harvard, and Samina Quraeshi, a designer and writer with far flung interests in the arts. It was intended as a sort of primer for Gardner’s film work, picking up where a number of reviews and critical essays left off. Tom Cooper is a professor of film at Emerson College and takes particular interest in the relation between Media and Ethics.
Published by Anthology Film Archives, 1995 (nearly out of print)
Harry Tomicek became absorbed in Cinema as a writer and thinker about metaphysical issues in art. He has been a frequent contributor to important periodicals concerning the philosophy of art and in film reviews in important newspapers and magazines. His book Gardner was written during the Österreichisches Museum of Vienna’s retrospective of Robert Gardner’s films. It has been said to have made interesting and complex observations on the actuality film particularly in regard to large human matters such as warfare. It is this issue which caught his attention early in his writing when he saw Dead Birds for the first time.
Published by Österreichisches Film Museum, 1991
Trickster Verlag in Munich has been known as a source of some interesting books about film, especially documentary film. This book collects a few articles on Gardner’s films and fits them under the theme of ritual, a dimension of life (and death) that has particularly interested Gardner. With the exception of Jay Ruby who manages to bare his teeth in a particularly vicious manner, the book served well as an accompaniment to a retrospective of Gardner’s work in Freiburg Germany.
Published by Trickster Verlag, 1989 (out of print)
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A limited edition flipbook of a sequence from Robert Gardner’s PASSENGER, a video about Sean Scully in his Barcelona studio in 1997 creating a painting of that name. The flipbook is a sequence documenting Sean Scully’s ‘kata’ or personal karate routine. Sean Scully is a black belt karate adept.
This flipbook is signed and numbered by Scully in an edition limited to 100.
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“Always the least didactic of sciences, anthropology speaks to the heart as well as to the mind of man. It treads a careful path between those who ridicule it as “unscientific” in its humanism, and those who, mistaking sentiment for truth, reject the methods of science in the their search for the nature of man. The best kind of anthropology, – scholarly, comprehensible and extraordinarily evocative – is to be found in Gardens of War. This superb literary and photographic essay is, in some ways, a monument to the Dani people who are its subject; more than that, however, it captures the eternal poignancy of the human paradox. War in Eden, cruelty and gentleness, love and hate; death and life.”— Gloria B. Levitas
In a hidden valley of great beauty, beyond the framework of our modern sense of time, lives a people until lately touched by civilization, direct survivors of the Stone Age. Gardens of War is a moving pictorial record of the lives of the Dugum Dani, a tribe of Neolithic warriors, during two seasons of 1961, when they were studied by the Harvard-Peabody Anthropological Expedition to New Guinea. The Expedition’s visit to the Grand Valley of Baliem in the Central Highlands of Western New Guinea offered a unique opportunity, perhaps the last, for a first-hand account of a lost culture in all its pristine simplicity and violence. Sixteen pages of magnificent color photographs and 96 black-and-white illustrations are matched here with a fascinating and superbly readable text to record a primitive world most of us are unlikely to see.
Published by Random House (1969)
Illustrated with two woodcuts by Leonard Baskin; plus a orange colored woodcut vignette in the colophon. 9 1/2 x 6, original saddle-sewn gray wrappers with large folding inside flaps. 500 hand-numbered copies printed at the Gehenna Press by Harold McGrath.
“Human Documents is a book of stunning photographs which collectively show that visual art is more than merely illustrative.”-Tracey Kidder, author of Mountains Beyond Mountains
“Some scholars are remembered as having been pioneers in their fields. In the case of Robert Garder, an entire academic discipline, visual anthropology, came into being simply to formalize what he was already doing. This is a beautiful and profound book, as significant as any to appear since Susan Sontag’s On Photography.”- Wade Davis, author of The Serpent and the Rainbow
Human Documents, a book showcasing the work of eight photographers – Kevin Bubriski, Robert Gardner, Christopher James, Susan Meiselas, Adelaide de Menil, Michael Rockefeller, Jane Tuckerman, and Alex Webb.
In this book Robert Gardner introduces the work of photographers with whom he has worked over a period of nearly fifty years under the auspices of the Film Study Center at Harvard. Their images achieve the status of what Gardner calls “human documents:” visual evidence that testifies to our shared humanity. In images and words, the book adds to the already significant literature on photography and filmmaking as ways to gather both fact and insight into the human condition. In nearly 100 images spanning geographies and cultures including India, New Guinea, Ethiopia, and the United States, Human Documents demonstrates the important role photography can play in furthering our understanding of human nature and connecting people through an almost universal visual language.
Author and cultural critic Eliot Weinberger contributes the essay “Photography and Anthropology (A Contact Sheet),” in which he provides a new and intriguing context for viewing and thinking about the images presented here.
Visit The Berkshire Review for the Arts to read Michael Miller’s review of Human Documents.
"What gives Gardner’s book its kick, its emotional and intellectual impact, are his meditations, short essays in boldface type, at the opening and closing of The Impulse to Preserve. Gardner allows us to consider that the worlds he has filmed so beautifully were disappearing as his camera rolled… Gardner has, as the poet Charles Simic says in his introduction, refused to accept the discord between reality and imagination. He has been in the real world fully imagining, and this book is part of what he brought back." William Corbett, The Boston Phoenix
"Robert Gardner is an anthropological filmmaker who has for four decades balanced on a tightrope between the sensibility of the artist and the discipline of the ethnographer. This is his memoir of that extraordinary feat. . . . Turning the pages, we come across some of the iconic images in ethnographic film as well as apercu of light and line that hold their own artistic truth." Arthur Kleinman, author of The Illness Narratives: Suffering, Healing and the Human Condition
Despite Primo Levi’s dire warning about the inadequacy of documentary evidence, Robert Gardner’s work shows that capturing the light reflected from actuality has its revelatory moments. Including nearly 500 photographs, The Impulse to Preserve contains the thoughts and images of a lifetime spent probing human experience in the world’s most remote corners. In each undertaking, an issue or condition common to humanity is intently observed. In Neolithic West Papua in 1961, it is ritual warfare and revenge; in Nigeria 1965, ritual pain; in Ethiopia in the late sixties, male supremacy; in Niger 1978, envy; and in Benares, India, 1985, mortality and its expression in worship.
"This collection of essays, meditations, edited journal entries, and photographs, describes the career of a notable anthropologist and filmmaker. Taken as a whole, it weaves a story that has much more to do with art than with any of the sociological disciplines . . . a fascinating, indeed spellbinding journey of the mind and heart." Tracy Kidder, author of Mountains Beyond Mountains
Download a PDF of Peter Loizo’s review in Anthropology Today (April 2008).
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In & Out features the writing of poet Fanny Howe and SX-70 Polaroids made by Robert Gardner during the filming of Ika Hands in 1981. Gardner shot a series of 87 images (one every twenty seconds) from a fixed position that captured the activity in the doorway of an Ika dwelling. In 2009, the images were given to Fanny Howe, who shuffled them, and wrote a short poem that weaves the images together in a new way.
34 pages, unfolded jacket size is 40" x 12", folded size is 9 1/2" x 12". The inside of the book jacket displays a grid of all 87 images in chronological order and selected images are reproduced full size in the book itself. First edition of 250 signed and numbered copies. Designed by Fogelson-Lubliner, printed November 2009 by Meridian Press.
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This limited edition portfolio contains twelve 11 x 14 inch prints selected from more than 5000 black and white photographs by Michael Rockefeller, printed by Kevin Bubriski. The portfolios are numbered 1-25 (plus 5 HC), design and production by Steven Stinehour in collaboration with Robert Gardner. The revenue from sales will be shared equally by the Peabody Museum and studio7arts.
An online exhibition can be seen at www.luminous-lint.com
Charles Simic has been a long acquaintance of Gardner’s. Lingering Ghosts is a collection of nineteen of Charles Simic’s otherwise unpublished poems. This book is made available by Studio7Arts here.
Robert Gardner’s classic Dead Birds is one of the most highly acclaimed and controversial documentary films ever made. This detailed and candid account of the process of making Dead Birds, from the birth of the idea through filming in New Guinea to editing and releasing the finished film, is more than the chronicle of a single work. It is also a thoughtful examination of what it meant to record the moving and violent rituals of warrior-farmers in the New Guinea highlands and to present to the world a graphic story of their behavior as a window onto our own. Letters, journals, telegrams, newspaper clippings, and over 50 images are assembled to recreate a vivid chronology of events. Making Dead Birds not only addresses the art and practice of filmmaking, but also explores issues of representation and the discovery of meaning in human lives.
Gardner led a remarkable cast of participants on the 1961 expedition. All brought back extraordinary bodies of work. Probably most influential of all was Dead Birds, which marked a sea change in nonfiction filmmaking. This book takes the reader inside the creative process of making that landmark film and offers a revealing look into the heart and mind of one of the great filmmakers of our time.
"This is an immensely valuable book for what it tells us about the evolving analytical and creative process of making a documentary film. Knowledge of this kind is hard to come by, because verbal accounts are so often ephemeral and so few filmmakers write cogently about their work. Here we have the marvelous exception. This book is a kind of dossier, a fascinating narrative carefully stitched together from Gardner’s own writings and a range of related resources. At its heart are Gardner’s letters and journal entries, but these are accompanied by photographs and documents that provide a visual and evidentiary complement to Gardner’s poised and always eloquent prose."— David MacDougall, ethnographic filmmaker and author of The Corporeal Image
"This revealing text is a serious addition to written and visual publications about Dani encounters, and it leaves the reader wishing for more."— Steven Feld, editor-translator of Jean Rouch: Cine-Ethnography
"Robert Gardner returns cinema to its most primal and far-reaching task and mission: discovering the world."— Tom Gunning, author of The Films of Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity
"Gardner’s thoughtful, often eloquent journals and correspondence with filmmakers and colleagues – much of it written on location in the New Guinea highlands – provides a rare glimpse into the painstaking evolution of Dead Birds."— Peter Matthiessen, author of Under the Mountain Wall
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First edition, first printing. Limited edition of 100 copies, with an archival inkjet print of Gardner’s 1961 photograph "Ritual War II," signed and numbered in pencil on the lower margin by Gardner. The print, which was produced by Steven Stinehour, measures 10 x 10 inches on 11 x 11-inch Hahnemeule rag paper and is contained in a numbered white paper sleeve, a photographically illustrated and numbered card-stock sleeve and an additional clear vinyl envelope. The book is signed and numbered in black ink on the final page by Gardner. Soft black cover, no dust jacket as issued.
Forest of Bliss is intended as an unsparing but ultimately redeeming account of the inevitable griefs and frequent happinesses that punctuate daily life in Benares, one of the world’s most holy cities. The film unfolds from one sunrise to the next without commentary, subtitles or dialogue. Three central figures are a healer of great geniality who attends the pained and troubled, a baleful and untouchable King of the Great Cremation Ground who sells the sacred fire, and an unusually conscientious priest who keeps a small shrine on the banks of the Ganges.
"Why all this ambiguity and mystery about these things I’ve called simple elements?" Asks Gardner in the book. "I’m not sure, except that I thought that the audience would not simply wait for the mysteries to be dispelled but would come up with their own solutions, supply their own answers, and so, in that way, they would be doing their own anthropology I would be content if they merely registered the facts: fires, scales, boys, kites, thermals. I’m confident that they would then, at some level of their imagination, work out their meaning."
Poet Seamus Heaney wrote of the "deep and literate gaze" Robert Gardner transmits "with an intensity that passes from the documentary into the visionary" in his film Forest of Bliss. A decade and a half after its making, it is recognized as a contemporary classic of nonfiction cinema. Making Forest of Bliss, the first in Harvard Film Archive’s series "Voices and Visions in Film," presents a dialogue between Gardner and his colleague anthropologist Akos Ostor, illustrated with more than 150 images captured from the film. Recalling the conditions of its filming in Benares, India, in 1985, and presenting their moment-by-moment impressions upon watching it several years later, Gardner and Ostor probe questions of what it means to capture life and death on film and ponder how the filmmaker’s intentions, choices necessitated by circumstance, and the serendipity of chance contribute to this endeavor. The resulting conversation is a lively exploration of issues philosophical, anthropological, and–above all–artistic. The volume contains an introduction by philosopher Stanley Cavell and includes a newly mastered DVD of the complete film.
From April to August 1961, recent Harvard graduate Michael Clark Rockefeller was sound recordist and still photographer on a remarkable multidisciplinary expedition to the Dani people of highland New Guinea. In five short months he produced a wonderful body of work, including over 4,000 black-and-white negatives.
In this catalogue, photographer Kevin Bubriski explores Rockefeller’s journey into the culture and community of the Dani and into rapport with the people whose lives he chronicled. The book reveals not only the young photographer’s growing fluency in the language of the camera, but also the development of his personal way of seeing the Dani world around him. Although Rockefeller’s life was cut tragically short on an expedition to the Asmat in the fall of 1961, his photographs are as vivid today as they were the moment they were made.
Featuring over 75 photographs, this beautiful volume is the first publication of a substantial body of Michael Rockefeller’s visual legacy. Rockefeller’s extraordinary photographs reveal both the resilient spirit of the Dani people and the anthropological and aesthetic eye of a young man full of promise. In a Foreword, Robert Gardner provides a personal recollection of Michael Rockefeller’s experience in the New Guinea highlands.
2007 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Third Place Winner, Photography Category
Winner of 2008 Benjamin Franklin Award Interior Design 1-2 Color, Independent Book Publishers Association
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In 1967 Robert Gardner met and traveled with a Nigerian gentleman, Umaru Dikko, to Northern Nigeria. Dikko recorded sound and translated during this relatively short trip, during which the ritual beating Sharo was documented, and many years later he was involved in a most bizarre series of events. This little zine, published by The Holster, contains this story as told to Michael Hutcherson by Gardner.
"The Story of Umaru Dikko" was created as part of the second installment of Demand & Supply, a print-on-demand project first initiated for the NYC Zine Fest, and expanded upon for the NY Art Book Fair held October 2-4, 2009 at P.S.1.
12 pages, 5 x 7 1/2, saddle stitched. Limited edition of 50 numbered copies, printed on demand by The Holster.