Although Jungian psychologist Tristan DuBois, founder of Alice Press in Venice, Calif., describes the press's mission as "challenging the mundane in fine art photography and eschewing controversy," he failed on the second count with his very first book. Stackpole Distribution in Harrisburg, Pa., is refusing to ship Eva: Eloge de Ma Fille by renowned erotic photographer Irina Ionesco. Distributing the oversized art book, which brings together 124 photographs of Ionesco's daughter Eva, "could expose it to criminal prosecution," according to a memo that Stackpole forwarded to Hushion House, the book's distributor, from its attorney. Stackpole declined to speak with PW.
DuBois first learned of the problem late last month when the owner of Arcana: Books on the Arts in Santa Monica, e-mailed him to find out what the "availability issues" were that Stackpole referred to in declining to fill its order. DuBois told PW that he didn't expect everyone to like Ionesco's photographs of her daughter, which include her clothed and unclothed, but, he said, "to have the book stopped, I'm shocked."
Hushion House Publishing, in Toronto, which relies on Stackpole to fulfill its U.S. orders, was also taken aback by the company's decision. "I have never run into this before," said v-p Jules Beauregard. "The book cleared U.S. customs and it cleared Canadian customs."
DuBois asked California attorney Jeffrey J. Douglas, chair of the board of directors of the Free Speech Coalition and chairman emeritus and past president of the First Amendment Lawyers Association, to review the book. But Stackpole was not reassured by Douglas's determination, which found in part: "None of the images contained in the publication could be lawfully prosecuted in any jurisdiction within the United States of America."
Hushion House is in the midst of trying to find another U.S. warehouse to fulfill orders for Eva. In Canada, sales of Eva have been "puttering along," said Bill Hushion. Chapters will put it into 40 of its stores and it is in a number of independent art bookstores. There is also a Japanese edition, as Ionesco has a strong following in Japan.