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JOEL-PETER WITKIN
My work would have the impact of my unreality - my doubts. I wanted my photographs to be as powerful as the last thing a person sees or remembers before death. - Joel-Peter Witkin

If there is pain in my photographs, it relates to the pain in my own existence. - Joel-Peter Witkin

I never photograph anything I don’t believe in. If I love working with death, it’s because even in death I find this power of reality that no sculptor or painter could recreate, not even a Michelangelo or a Da Vinci. - Joel-Peter Witkin

I believe in building photographs. I don’t like the unpredictable—I have a clear idea of what I want long before I click the shutter. - Joel-Peter Witkin

Actually there are two decisive moments: the first when I record something with the camera, the second when I print. What I’m showing you here are not just mechanical records, but final objects, representing interactions between such records and myself. I draw on the negative, or scratch it, or take things out. - Joel-Peter Witkin

I work alone during printing and begin by communicating with my equipment and chemistry, thanking them in advance. I place a negative in the enlarger and the darkroom becomes a kind of holy house... - Joel-Peter Witkin

I think that what makes a photograph so powerful is the fact that, as opposed to other forms, like video or motion pictures, it is about stillness. I think the reason a person becomes a photographer is because they want to take it all and compress it into one particular stillness. When you really want to say something to someone, you grab them, you hold them, you embrace them. That's what happens in this still form. - Joel-Peter Witkin

At the moment of photography I act instantaneously and instinctively. At the moment of printing I take time for esthetic decisions for which I didn’t have time with the camera, I re-design the image into something more powerful, more mysterious. - Joel-Peter Witkin

In order to know if I were truly alive, I’d make the invisible visible! Photography would be the means to bring God down to earth—to exist for me in the photographic images I would create. I believe that all my photographs are incarnations, representing the form and substance of what my mind sees and attempts to understand. - Joel-Peter Witkin

I never photograph anything I don’t believe in. If I love working with death, it's because even in death I find this power of reality, that no sculptor or painter could recreate, not even a Michelangelo or a Da Vinci. The Pieta or the Virgin of the Rocks are but inventions of the mind, however wonderful—while in the real human flesh, whether alive or dead, there is a power that is god-given. This is what keeps me in photography. - Joel-Peter Witkin

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