Ghost Image

Hervé Guibert

Hervé Guibert

Translated by Robert Bononno
160 pages | 5-1/4 x 8 | © 1996
Paper $18.00 ISBN: 9780226132341 Published March 2014
E-book $18.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226132488 Published March 2014
Ghost Image is made up of sixty-three short essays—meditations, memories, fantasies, and stories bordering on prose poems—and not a single image. Hervé Guibert’s brief, literary rumination on photography was written in response to Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida, but its deeply personal contents go far beyond that canonical text. Some essays talk of Guibert’s parents and friends, some describe old family photographs and films, and spinning through them all are reflections on remembrance, narcissism, seduction, deception, death, and the phantom images that have been missed.

Both a memoir and an exploration of the artistic process, Ghost Image not only reveals Guibert’s particular experience as a gay artist captivated by the transience and physicality of his media and his life, but also his thoughts on the more technical aspects of his vocation. In one essay, Guibert searches through a cardboard box of family portraits for clues—answers, or even questions—about the lives of his parents and more distant relatives. Rifling through vacation snapshots and the autographed images of long-forgotten film stars, Guibert muses, “I don’t even recognize the faces, except occasionally that of an aunt or great-aunt, or the thin, fair face of my mother as a young girl.” In other essays, he explains how he composes his photographs, and how—in writing—he seeks to escape and correct the inherent limits of his technique, to preserve those images lost to his technical failings as a photographer.

With strains of Jean Genet and recurring themes that speak to the work of contemporary artists across a range of media, Guibert’s Ghost Image is a beautifully written, melancholic ode to existence and art forms both fleeting and powerful—a unique memoir at the nexus of family, memory, desire, and photography.
Wayne Koestenbaum | Bookforum
“Why has no thoughtful publisher translated and published all of Guibert’s works, in trim editions, each cover graced with his seraphic image? . . . To get Guibert’s full message, which isn’t light-years apart from Susan Sontag’s and Frank O’Hara’s New York–based credos (pay attention, live as variously as possible) but that chose for its transmission not the lyric or the essay but the autofiction, the fragmentary self-articulation, casual as a snapshot, would involve questioning straitened notions of what constitutes a polished piece of writing, or a life’s work, or an autobiography, or a sexuality, or a successful venture—and learning, instead, to appreciate the cadences of catastrophe, of self-excavating improvisation, and of unknowingness. Futility and botched execution are the immortal matter of Guibert’s method. Futility and botched execution—combined, in Guibert’s work, with finesse, concision, and a heavy dose of negative capability, which includes curiosity about the worst things that can befall a body—are undying aesthetic and spiritual values, worth cherishing in any literature we dare to call our own.”
Ron Slate | On the Seawall
Ghost Image is essential Guibert—an artist’s penetrating look at his own profession and obsessions. It is animated and validated by prickly sensations and thrusts of thought that occur during composition—an accomplished photographer’s narrative that exists thanks to the virtuous failures of photos.”
Kirkus
“Guibert’s rhythmic descriptions of his relationship to images at various stages of his life manage to convey the transience of life and memory that the photographer is always struggling to overcome. . . . A lyrical, elegiac celebration of the medium and its implications—a provocative and highly original investigation.”
Publishers Weekly
“Quick, candid, and exquisitely felt.”
Contents
"I used to dream ... "
Ghost Image
First Love
The Perfect Image
The Erotic Picture
Photo Souvenir (East Berlin)
A Family Photograph
A Fantasy
Inventory of a Box of Photographs
A Possible Photo Sequence for Bernard Faucon
Home Movies
Holography
Identity Photograph I
Identity Photograph II
Photobooth (Florence)
Self-Portrait
The Album
The x-ray
Identification
The Hotel Room
Example of a Travel Photograph
Photographic Writing
Contact Sheet
The Insult
The Camera
The Fetish
The Threat
A Fantasy II
"The majority of your stories ... "
Diffraction
The Rings
Premeditation
The Session
Advice
The Beautiful Image
Suite, Series, Sequence
Pornography
Porno Bis
Red Tape
The Collection
The Fovea
The Bus
Dance
Polaroid
Favorite Photographs
The Article
"Photography has infiltrated your life ... "
A Fantasy III
The Betrayal
The Proof
The Photograph, as Close to Death as Possible
A Fantasy iv
A Cruel Act
Proof by the Absurd
A Memorial for Simple Hearts
“T. told me…”
Return to the Beloved Image
The Cancerous Image
Secrets
The Retouching Artist
The Fake
Transparencies
The Pharmacist of Rue Vaugirard
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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