|Descendants, Photographs by Norman Mauskopf. |
Published by Twin Palms Publishers, 2010.
Reviewed by Mary Anne Redding
Norman Mauskopf Descendants
Photographs by Norman Mauskopf
Twin Palms Publishers, Santa Fe, 2010. Hardbound. 96 pp., 60 duotone illustrations, 12x9".
How many books have only a black and white photograph on the front cover with no text overlay to introduce the contents? On the slender black spine is one word: Descendants, followed by the photographer's name: Norman Mauskopf, and on the bottom edge prances the proud white horse -- the publisher's instantly recognizable logo. The sequencing of the images in this book by Jack Woody, editor of TwelveTrees Press, is a work of art in and of itself -- there are no words or captions to distract from the haunting images that build a visual narrative interlaced like beads on a rosary. The poem, Singing at the Gates, at the end of the book by Jimmy Santiago Baca is a bilingual masterpiece.
Mauskopf is an outsider looking in, but accepted along with his cameras because he is a passionate observer. Everyone immediately senses this man will tell it as straight as he sees it -- no slant, no spin, no agenda -- just truth in the way Robert Frank told it so many years ago when no one in America was willing to believe that what was in front of his camera was true. Mauskopf shares a similar truth in vision with Frank. He received the prestigious W. Eugene Smith Award for his documentary work on this ten-year project; his images offer a rare glimpse by piercing Anglo eyes into the Hispanic culture of northern New Mexico.
Mary Anne Redding is the Curator of Photography at the Palace of the Governors/New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe.