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Dead Fotog, 22, Built Own Epitaph
Katayoon Zandvakili -- 8/25/97
It was almost as if Dan Eldon knew he would die young. By the time he died in 1993, at the age of 22, stoned to death by a Somali mob reacting against a U.N. bombing, the British-born, Nairobi-raised Eldon, Reuters's youngest-ever photojournalist, had already compiled 17 volumes of diaries and memorabilia.These are now the subject of Chronicle Books' ambitious and unusual fall title, The Journey Is the Destination: The Journals of Dan Eldon, the start of what promises to be a multimedia memorial to Eldon, with a Turner documentary and a feature film on him also in the works.
The book project began in October 1995, when Chronicle editor Annie Barrows saw some of Eldon's work and got in touch with his mother, Kathy Eldon, who lives in Los Angeles. Eldon invited Barrows to view her son's memorabilia. Three visits later, Barrows and Kathy Eldon (who is given editing credit) distilled the material into the current 224-page book, with collages duplicated on color stock with an occasional insert.
With an initial printing of 30,000 and a promo budget of $30,000, Chronicle will tour Kathy Eldon -- who has written the book's introduction, as well as 11 books published by a Kenyan press -- to New York, L.A., San Francisco and Chicago in October.
Eldon has already been memorialized in Images of Conflict, Debbie Gaiger's 1994 international exhibition and book (published and distributed by Reuters); another traveling exhibition of his work will run at the Marcel Saba Gallery in New York from Oct. 9 to Nov. 5.
And the Eldon appreciation extends even further: in September, Kathy Eldon and her daughter Amy will film a two-hour documentary for TBS, Dying to Tell the Story; it's already allotted the coveted Sunday night slot following National Geographic and will air sometime in spring 1998.
Additionally, the following fall, Columbia Pictures plans to release a feature film on Eldon's life, with a screenplay by Jan Sardi (Shine) and co-produced by Lisa Henson, Janet Yang (Larry Flynt) and Kathy Eldon.
Also in the pipeline: Kathy and Amy Eldon's The Angel Catcher: A Journal of Loss and Remembrance, to be released by Chronicle in April 1998. Kathy Eldon is digitizing the journals so she can post them online, possibly with Microsoft funding, through React, an online magazine.
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