cover image Ghost Image

Ghost Image

Herve Guibert, Ghost Guibert. Sun and Moon Press, $13.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-55713-267-3

This beautiful collection of essays treats photography to a series of snapshot-style studies--quick, candid and exquisitely felt--by an author who knew his subject intimately. Prior to his death from AIDS at age 36, Guibert was both a photo critic for Le Monde and a practicing photographer. These are about the elusiveness of images, starting concretely enough with the portrait of his mother in her majesty that he attempted as a 18-year-old without his father's knowledge. He makes careful arrangements: ""I combed her blonde shoulder-length hair for a long time so that it would hang absolutely straight on either side of her face... letting the purity of her features show."" Only when the pictures come out of the developing bath black and brutally void, does he realize he never properly wound the film inside the camera. Reflecting the dichotomy of photography itself, Guibert's ruminations are riddled with reflections of death and desire. He is equally fascinated by the medium's twin powers to haunt and to deceive. A police photo of a missing girl invites each passerby to casually recommit the crime of her disappearance in their own mind. As with any album, this collection entails an autobiography, the particular eros of which is explicitly homosexual. ""I don't know how to put it more simply... if you desexualize the image, you reduce it to theory."" Occasionally, the writing turns into conversation, as when Guibert addresses some unknown companion. These asides are the only problem in an otherwise perfect read. (Sept.)