Another Walker Evans: Stephanie Schwartz talks with David Campany

Photography & Culture Volume 7 Issue 2 July, 2013, uploaded, 2013

Stephanie Schwartz (SS): In the opening pages of your book Walker Evans: The Magazine Work, you propose “another Walker Evans.” Who is this Evans?

David Campany (DC): Well, Walker Evans (1903–1975) is famous, perhaps one of the most well-known photographers in the world. Through various books and exhibitions a few dozen of his images are among the most instantly recognizable in the history of the medium. But there is also a Walker Evans who was less interested in the museum (its walls, its cultural power) than the magazine (its pages and very different cultural power). It is an Evans more concerned with an intelligent popular culture than high art. I’ve always found it frustrating that the museum and gallery are regarded as the most significant institutions of photographic culture. Evans certainly didn’t think so. He never had many shows in his own lifetime but he was very interested in the potential of a broader and more reflective popular culture based in the illustrated press. He began publishing in the small vanguard magazines around 1930 but found a place for himself within Time Inc., which owned magazines such as Fortune, Life, Sports Illustrated, and Architectural Forum.

SS: You’ve made some exhibitions of this work. In some ways Evans himself negotiated a space between the gallery and the magazine. After all, even in the show, “American Photographs” at the Museum of Modern Art in 1938, he challenged the separation of these spaces when he decided to take some of his photographs out of their frames, crop them, and apply them directly to the walls. Already, in 1938, he interrogated the institutions of photographic culture. And, as you demonstrate, he did this from the very beginning of his career. We wrongly assume that the “magazine work” came late, after the “heyday” of documentary. Correcting this history also produces “another” Evans. Are you suggesting that the magazine work was synonymous with the development of documentary or what he famously called his “documentary style”?

DC: There have always been tensions and struggles over documentary—its forms, its functions, and its relation to the institutions of social and political power. As the mainstream illustrated press evolved in America in the 1920s and 1930s there was a lot up for grabs. For example, Evans and the writer James Agee saw Life magazine emerge in 1936— with its spectacle and sentimentalism—but they wanted to be part of it, to shape it in other ways. They put in a proposal to have pages in each issue devolved to them for commissioning experimental writing and photography. That never happened but neither Evans nor Agee gave up on popular culture. They wanted to be in there fighting for alternatives. Eventually Evans got himself into a position where he could fashion a counter-commentary on America and its values from within its magazine culture. This “other” Evans was a writer, designer, editor, and single-minded journalist, not just an artist working in a “documentary style.”

SS: We have another Evans and we have another history of photographic culture in the 1930s. Where does the canonical Evans, the “bad boy” of the Resettlement Administration, fit into your history?

DC: In the span of Evans’s career, his time working for the Resettlement Administration was short and remarkable. In just a couple of years, 1936 and 1937, Evans made the photographs on which his “museum” reputation stands. They are extraordinarily wrought, complex images. But I think Evans knew that wasn’t enough. It was important to control how the work was seen. He had to be involved in editing, writing, and publishing. I don’t want to replace the Evans who is well known and loved because I admire that too. But I do want to add to it, to make it richer, more complicated, but also more realistic. Evans had to earn a living and what’s so impressive is that he managed to do it without compromising himself.

SS: Following Belinda Rathbone’s biography of Evans, I once tried to count his commissions, not only for magazines but also for museums and book publishers. I eventually gave up, but the exercise made plain that Evans almost never worked without a job, without an employer. I think the one exception was the subway photographs, which he produced with a hidden camera between 1938 and 1941. He began that project with money from the Guggenheim foundation. How do you think this impacted or shaped his practice, aside from the fact that, at times, he did not choose his subjects? How do we square this aspect of his work with his desire for autonomy?

DC: It’s interesting that Evans never joined an agency and very rarely had his pictures syndicated. He sensed that this was part of the problem of photographic culture. If you reduce yourself to simply “supplying the images,” you have little control over their meaning. Most of his magazine images were published just once, within photo essays of his own devising. Moreover, his Fortune pieces were often made as stubborn acts of resistance, defying what was going on elsewhere in the particular issue of the magazine. His 1946 piece “Labor Anonymous,” which at first glance looks like a typology of workers photographed on the street, is really nothing of the sort and it was devised to appear in an issue of the magazine themed around US industry. Then as you say, beyond his magazine work Evans picked up some grants. The Guggenheim grants were never large, but for those who received them they were an important symbolic affirmation. Evans certainly didn’t need a grant to fund the subway work in 1938—all he had to do was get on the subway! (Maybe he used the money to buy the fast lens that allowed him to shoot in the dim light; I’m not sure.)

SS: The difference is not monetary; it is that he was not “on assignment.” And, with this project—or when it finally appeared as a book project in 1966, as Many Are Called—Evans, perhaps smugly, quoted Emerson’s dictum “There is no limit to what can be accomplished, if it doesn’t matter who gets credit.”1 Pairing this dictum with photographs produced with a hidden camera certainly engages with his role as a professional photographer, as someone who works for a living. Is it about money? Or is it about the new photographic cultures and the relationship between autonomy and anonymity?

DC: Well it’s fascinating that the subway series was not a commission because it seems he didn’t know how to resolve it. In 1938 and 1940 he makes a few hundred portraits of passengers who happen to sit opposite him. He makes a dummy book but doesn’t publish it. The project is shelved until 1956 when a small university magazine publishes a sequence of eight of them under the title “Rapid Transit” (after a poem about subway passengers written by James Agee). Then, in 1962, Harper’s Bazaar publishes a six-page feature on this series with a different choice of images in different cropping and different layout, with a different title—“The Unposed Portrait.” Finally, in 1966, nearly thirty years after they were taken, Evans published an extended selection as the book Many Are Called. Obviously that’s no way to earn a living and Evans had to do so somehow. There was no private income and no art market for photography. What’s interesting is that unlike many photographers, he never made a distinction between his paid work and his art, “commercial” and “personal.” Photography was significant, at least for him, because it blurred those distinctions if you could find ways and places to operate in the culture.

SS: Yet, in our histories of Evans or the 1930s or American photography we create clarity. For example, we keep Evans for the 1930s or, if we acknowledge the magazine works, we only acknowledge a few photographs. The singular photograph almost always displaces the magazine page. Can you tell me a bit about how this exhibition developed and challenges of exhibiting this “other” Evans?

DC: While I was writing my book I was resisting any idea of making an exhibition. The book reproduces Evans’s pages in facsimile, preserving the photo, writing and design, and it seemed right that these pages should be seen on the page, not in the space of the museum or gallery. But two things occurred. In 2010, I co-curated a show at Le Bal in Paris titled “Anonymes: Unnamed America in Photography and Film.” One of the rooms placed several of Evans’s magazine pieces about anonymous workers and citizens in direct relation to Men Waiting, Jeff Wall’s huge 2006 photo of unemployed workers that was made specifically for the gallery encounter. It struck me that the printed page in such a space could have quite an important force. Wall’s picture is valued at half a million dollars and cost us a fortune to transport. I bought the Evans magazines on eBay for very little and took them to Paris in my hand luggage. The vitrine cost more than the magazines I put in it! Now, I admire Wall and Evans equally but differently, and realized that something of those tensions could and should be there in the show. Secondly, even in the years since 2010 I’ve noticed a much wider acceptance of the importance of the printed page to the understanding of photography past and present. This is clear from the increased visibility of magazines in exhibitions. There are real difficulties in exhibiting magazine work but they’re not insurmountable. For example, if you want to show an eight-page piece, you have to get hold of at least four copies of that magazine, or work with reproductions. I’m doing both: original magazines in multiple copies, plus blow-ups of various spreads pasted directly to the gallery walls. No photos in frames. It’s actually quite a cheap form of exhibition.

SS: You had to negotiate a way to bring the work into the museum without taking it off the page or mitigating the importance of scale. I can imagine that the juxtaposition between Wall’s mural and Evans’s two page grid of “Labor Anonymous” made that palpable. I can also see how it would open up a space for thinking through a history of photography as media, thinking through the relationship between journalism and advertising raised in Wall’s work.

DC: This is such a complex and important question. I could give you the reasoned theoretical answer but I’ll be personal for the moment. I have deep fascination and affection for photography and I have learned over the years what I had intuited when the medium first began to interest me as a teenager. Important work, good work, can be made anywhere in the culture: on a magazine page, on a record sleeve, on a billboard, on a website. Photography scrambles the traditional hierarchy that places ephemeral forms at the bottom, books in the middle, and state-funded museums at the top. “Applied” photography at the bottom, autonomous art photography at the top, and so forth. I suspect the much celebrated triumph of photography in and as contemporary art in the last couple of decades has actually obscured this fact, even though so much of it reworks “non-art photography” —documentary, advertising, the commercial still life, the archival image, the domestic snapshot, the film still and so on. Coming back to Evans, I think it’s significant that he came to maturity in the 1920s and 1930s when it was becoming clear just how radically photography was redrawing the cultural map. Photography became “modern” precisely by dumping discrete high-art pretensions and coming into a dialogue with those commercial and vernacular forms, while embracing the new modes of dissemination opened up by magazines, journals, and book publishing. And yet I think Wall is broadly right when he asserts that photography of the modern era had internalized the page so comprehensively that it forgot to think about the specifics of the gallery encounter—scale, the viewer’s bodily relation to the space, and the image presented within it. When Evans, or Robert Frank, or Henri Cartier-Bresson, or Bill Brandt, or Berenice Abbott, or Weegee exhibited their prints they were barely larger than page-sized and often pretty difficult to look at on the wall.

SS: I agree. The “scramble,” as you put it, has been obscured, and it obscures the significance of the 1930s for our histories of photography. Organizing this moment as the “rise” of documentary does not cut it. In fact, it cuts documentary off from the very processes of modernization you mention. Evans certainly engaged these processes. Evans negotiated time, and exactly how he did that has been a subject of much of the writings on Evans. In his essay for Evans’s book American Photographs, the catalog for the 1938 retrospective, Lincoln Kirstein made note of Evans’s talent for recording an America on “the brink of collapse.” Much of Evans’s Fortune work—for example, “Downtown, A Last Look Backwards” and “Before They Disappear,” his collection of freight car insignia—seems to support this view. Was Evans a photographer of modernization?

DC: Yes, I think he was. It’s true that many of his magazine photo-essays were concerned with things that were being obliterated by the forces of modernization—weathered surfaces, vernacular architecture, the idiosyncrasies of common design and such. But it was much more profound and radical than nostalgic or conservative. In drawing attention to things on the verge of extinction he felt he could grasp what’s at stake in modernity’s “progress.” Evans admired Charles Baudelaire, a writer who proposed that we could best know our times by attending to the most minor and commonplace things: not “official history,” but the things recently forgotten or cast aside. There’s certainly a melancholy in that but there’s a radical potential too.

SS: That radical potential bubbles up in the text or in the relationship between the text and the photographs. Or even in the relationship between his portfolios and Fortune magazine’s editorial line. As you just noted, he confronted and tested the boundaries of the institutions for which he worked.

DC: In popular magazine culture the writing is usually there to smooth out a simple realist or functional reading of the imagery, to make it appear “transparent.” But Evans often wrote texts as counterpoints to his photographs: poetic, playful, and sometimes polemic. Frequently, as in “Labor Anonymous,” the words deliberately subverted or undermined any straightforward reading of the photographs. In this way the viewer was encouraged to be much more active in the interpretation of the words and pictures. That’s really startling in a mainstream magazine like Fortune. In many respects this exploration of the tension between words and pictures was a forerunner of what became so important to conceptual artists twenty, thirty, forty years later. He wasn’t always so radical. Some of his work is quite conventional but really he was out on his own doing this in American culture. I don’t know of another photographer-writer who was trying to do this in mainstream outlets.

SS: Too often we confuse radical with political, and working with magazines for “selling out.” Dwight MacDonald, one of the Fortune writers Evans worked with in the early days, when he was just working freelance for this magazine, penned a witty piece on “selling out.” He claims it was impossible. The brilliant phrase is: “I was tempted, morally to keep selling out … but it became neurologically impossible. I kept falling asleep in the very act of prostitution.”2 It was his way of coming to terms with working at Fortune, working for a corporation and a man he claimed to “despise.” Is it fair to say that Evans belongs among this rank, of writers and intellectuals, and less among those photographers who also worked for Stryker and the FSA?

DC: That’s a great phrase, although it is a little vain and self-serving. Those feelings were widespread, and they came about because so many left-leaning intellectuals were involved in mainstream publishing in the 1930s. Fortune was a business and industry magazine, lavish in its production values, but launched in the midst of the huge recession following the stock market crash of 1929. By 1931 there were five million unemployed in America. As the effects of the Depression deepened, Fortune faltered in its celebration of the bounties of capital. Evans noted that the magazine “didn’t really know what role it should play during the Depression. They didn’t know what they were doing since they were founded to describe in a stimulating way American business and industry, and that was falling apart.”3

SS: This confusion is easily buried in our histories of photojournalism. Not surprisingly, Luce was savvy. He negotiated the Depression as well with his “tycoons” and his writers.

DC: And in that uncertainty, in all periods of uncertainty, there are possibilities. (Have you noticed how in our present global economic crisis it’s perfectly normal to hear even mainstream media talk about capitalism as a system, rather than the natural order of things? That’s significant.) Plus of course that 1930s generation understood that it wasn’t enough to be cynical, or snobbish, or resigned about the conservatism of the mass media. You had to figure out how to be a part of it. At the end of his life Evans recalled: “I had to fight for it. But in a way I accepted that as a challenge. I had to use my wits there. And I think I did all right. I think I won in the long run. I was very pleased with that because that’s a hard place to win from. That’s a deadly place really, and ghastly. I can’t tell you how horrible that is, that organization [Time Inc.] … But it’s such a large thing for very bright people and you can find places in there that are habitable.”4

SS: I want to pick up on your point about conceptual art. Are you suggesting that the “other” Evans produces other lineages or histories of photography? We often think very conventionally about his legacy and look to Frank and Lee Friedlander, the two photographers he mentored and wrote about. Who else should we add to this list?

DC: Evans’s pictorial idiom, his paradigm if you like, was so open and generous that it’s possible to work in that way without fear of imitation, just as Evans had developed his own approach to picture-making along the lines of Mathew Brady and Eugène Atget before him. That openness is why so many have cited him as an influence, from Cartier-Bresson and Garry Winogrand to Stephen Shore, Joel Sternfeld, Alec Soth, Justine Kurland, and even Jeff Wall. But that’s Evans the exemplary picture-maker in the “documentary style.” However the “other” Evans, the Evans who pioneered a reflexive and resistant magazine journalism had almost no “influence,” simply because so few photographers were alert to it (although it can certainly be seen as an important precedent for the interest in the magazine page shown by Dan Graham, Robert Smithson, Victor Burgin, and many others artists interested in image–text practices beyond the gallery walls). When the museum world got really interested in Evans in the 1960s and 1970s, his magazine pages were long gone. His archive of prints survived and they formed the basis of his legacy. Posterity rarely rests upon magazine pages. That’s a real problem for photographic history.

SS: The difference between a precedent and influence is important as it reminds us of the gaps in our histories and about other ways to write histories of photography. Histories influence, setting the stage for radical practice. Of course, Evans was also still working in the 1960s. His work, his long career, does pose interesting questions, as I noted before, for our histories. This is where you end your book, with Evans’s retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1971 and “Information,” a big survey show of conceptual art, which opened at the museum in 1970. But I imagine it was also a beginning.

DC: The 1971 Museum of Modern Art show presented Evans the artist making single images to be framed on a wall. He was that, but he wasn’t only that. The curator John Szarkowski had nothing to say about Evans the writer, editor, and working photographer who had found a unique place within America’s biggest publishing empire. But Szarkowski really set the tone for the reception of Evans. Who knows what might have happened if Burgin, Allan Sekula, Martha Rosler, or Jeff Wall (to name a few) had known what Evans had been up to on the page? And would Sherrie Levine have appropriated Evans’s images in the name of postmodern critique if she’d known that Evans had been reworking other people’s images as early as 1933? But this is not an isolated example. The more one really looks at what went on even in magazines like Life in America or the early years of The Sunday Times magazine in the UK, the more one realizes that work was made that was innovative, resistant, critical, and miles ahead of what gallery artists were doing. I veer between despair and excitement at this state of affairs!

SS: I am convinced that Sekula must have known some of Evans’s Fortune work. We see this in his photo essay “Aerospace Folktales” (1973). He not only makes conspicuous reference to Evans—to the portraits of Southern tenant framers, the clapboard houses, and the stuff that builds up on the mantelpiece in domestic space—but he recalls his father’s subscription to Fortune. We don’t need to go down this road. Regardless, I take your point. It reminds us that Levine’s history of photography was already challenged before it entered the museum and history.

DC: I think the Levine / Evans moment tells us a lot about how limited the received history of photography was in the 1970s, and probably still is. In his own way Sekula was clearly an artist who shared some of Evans’s concerns. But three years ago I met with him and the conversation turned to Evans’s books. When I mentioned I was assembling the history of Evans’s magazine work he became really curious. I showed him some examples and he was amazed and excited. Interestingly, around that time I showed Wall a copy of Life magazine in which Gordon Parks had staged the moment from Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man (1952)—the scene of the lone African-American writer in a windowless basement illuminated by all those light bulbs. Wall had made his version in 1999/ 2000, in complete ignorance of the precedent. As I say, this is not uncommon. Serious photographers often confront possibilities and challenges that have come up before. I don’t want to sound like a nerd who goes around pointing out “who did what first,” because what’s at stake here is much more profound. Photography criticism and theory always seems to presume the present is the moment in which the important challenges are being faced for the first time. Some of the challenges are indeed new, but lots of them have come up before and we could all benefit from an awareness of this.

SS: These presumptions come into question when we turn to Evans “the writer.” That is, it becomes clear that the “inadequate system” of language, metaphor and metonymy, and poetry was already being investigated in the 1940s and 1950s. How does Walker Evans “the writer” figure in your history of his work? How does his work with words inform his work on the magazine page?

DC: From an early age Evans had an ambition to write, so much so that it paralyzed him. Then in photography he found a medium that was literary in many respects. At the end of his career he suggested: “Photography seems to be the most literary of the graphic arts. It will of eloquence, wit, grace, and economy; style, of course; structure and coherence; paradox, play, and oxymoron.”5 (Recall also the art critic Clement Greenberg’s famous call to “Let photography be literary.”) Perhaps more importantly, however, Evans understood photography as a medium that is almost always connected very intimately to writing—captions, commentary, and journalism of one kind or another.

SS: And, yet, he did not just “let photography be literary.” Sure, the wit and eloquence of much of the Fortune work is evident. As early as 1931, with “Mr. Walker Evans Records a City’s Scene” published in Creative Art magazine, he challenges the reading of photographs. We have Evans the photographer, Evans the writer, and even, for many, the Evans who really wanted to be a filmmaker. Is it enough to simply say he is all of these positions, “professions”?

DC: Evans was interested not just in bringing images and words into a productive, dialectical relation; he was interested in blurring the distinction. What happens when photographs contain words? His affection for commercial signage as a visual motif is an obvious example. What happens when such images are accompanied by captions or more elaborately designed typography? What happens when all these things are sequenced across pages? Within a year or two of picking up a camera Evans was exploring these questions. He understood that photographic culture does not begin and end with the rectangle of the photograph. There is a whole craft complex that includes, among other things, publishing technology, graphic design, and an awareness of context. This goes right back to the 1840s. Think of Fox Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature, which should be seen a coming together of image, writing (scientific, philosophical, and speculative), graphic design, and publishing. Whenever photography appears on the page it engages with these related practices. The problem is the art museum, the written histories of photography, the critical debates, and the teaching of photography have all tended to extract and disaggregate the images. I’m still amazed that photography departments in universities are so distant from graphic design departments. Maybe it’s a symptom of that unnecessarily anxious dichotomy between the “applied arts” and the “fine arts.” But as I mentioned, photographic culture makes a nonsense of such a distinction. Evans intuited this very early on. He also realized that if you were going to control the meaning of your images it was imperative that you got properly involved with publishing, not just “submitting” your images. As Sekula once put it, photographers are often the proletariat in the production of meaning, the detail workers. The real power lies with the editors, publishers, writers, and curators. For Sekula, this meant making books and controlling his exhibitions. The magazine page is more of a challenge, I’d say.

SS: It is academic—social—division of labor, and takes us back to the question of who gets credit for what, what gets archived, in the museum or by other institutions.

DC: Most photographers’ working lives are much more complex than the museum usually allows. It’s often assumed that magazine work is commercial and compromised and that the “real art” is in the exhibition or the monographic book. In many cases that’s true. But what of those photographers who really did do important work in the illustrated press, for pages destined to be discarded? What of the working magazine life of Cartier-Bresson, or Bill Brandt, or Germaine Krull, Brassai, Laure Albin Guillot, Guy Bourdin, Don McCullin, Irving Penn, Eve Arnold, or William Klein at Vogue? Shouldn’t we be at least as interested in seeing what they published in magazines as in what was chosen for recycling in exhibitions and books of “masterful photographs”? And, like Evans, let’s not forget many of those photographers were also talented writers.

SS: Exactly. This ephemeral aspect of the work is important. Didn’t Agee ask his publisher to print the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men on newsprint? He relished the idea thatit would disappear, literally—paradoxically—become old news. Yet, we could also suggestthat he was pointing to the relationshipbetween his work and “journalism.” How would you define that relationship?

DC: Evans and Agee wanted to be in there making the case for smart journalism. Agee was on the staff of Fortune before Evans and produced some fine work—descriptive, critical, and self-conscious. He was also brave enough to be open with his readers about the limits and conditions under which he was working, as was Evans. That quality was always going to be at odds with the authority of magazines, which professed to tell some ultimate and incontestable “truth” to “the people.” Of course magazines don’t mind at all when the writer or photographer is wilfully subjective. Think of how the mainstream press absorbs confessional journalism or what came to be called “gonzo journalism” because it can claim to appear tolerant of it while neutralizing it as mere opinion. But journalism that reports while also addressing the conditions of journalism is much more of a challenge and extremely testing, both for authors and audiences. But I’d argue that this is journalism. Sometimes such work is too difficult and it gets reedited or is not published by magazines. Evans’s and Agee’s report on tenant farmers was commissioned by Fortune. It was only when the editors refused to print it that the two were permitted to turn it into the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941). Having sold just 199 copies in its first two years, it was remaindered at 19 cents a copy. A further 750 copies were sold at a loss. It eventually sold out its print run of 1,025 copies, finding a small but appreciative audience. Only after Agee had won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize and Evans’s work was being reassessed was the book republished in 1960, to great acclaim and with twice the number of images. Now it was regarded as the pinnacle of a genre it had all but invented: high modernist experimental documentary. But its time had come precisely insofar as its time had gone. The delay in publishing and the book’s difficult structure had cut it off from the contemporary readership its urgency demanded. It’s a very cautionary tale.

SS: It is Evans both ahead of and behind the times. This is also journalism. I guess this is the crux of the magazine work and the exhibition.

DC: Well there’s a conundrum here. I’m making the case that Evans’s magazine work was significant because it was so focused on its own time—that issue, of that magazine, that month, for that audience. So what is to be gained from going back, from looking again, from re-presenting it? In 1992 Denis Hollier once wrote a superb article about the reprinting of Documents, the dissident surrealist journal first published in 1929–30. He notes: “The significance of the reprint is not thesame for a book as it is for a periodical. A novel is republished because ithas had some success or becausethe time has come to rediscover it.Habent sua fata libelli. With a journal,the transposition from the aorist tothe imperfect alters the textual statusof the object, its punctuality. Like anevent condemned to linger on.”6 But Hollier goes on to argue, and I would argue, that there is something to be gained from an understanding of this very specificity, not least because so much of what is important in our culture is important precisely because it is a pointed intervention, with no eye on posterity and no intention of lasting.

1 Walker Evans, Many Are Called (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966), acknowledgments.

2 Dwight MacDonald, “Selling Out,” in Discriminations: Essays and Afterthoughts, 1938–1974 (New York: Grossman Publishers, 1974), p. 171.

3 Evans, quoted by James R. Mellow in Walker Evans (New York: Perseus Press, 1999), p. 308.

4 Oral history interview with Walker Evans, October 13–December 23, 1971. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institute. Available online: www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-walker-evans-11721.

5 Walker Evans, “Photography” in Louis Kronenberger (ed.), Quality: Its Image in the Arts (New York: Atheneum, 1969), p. 170.

6 Denis Hollier, “The Use-Value of the Impossible,” October 60 (Spring 1992): 23. The Latin “Pro captu lectoris habent sua fata libelli” (According to the capabilities of the reader, books have their destiny) is a verse of De litteris, De syllabis, De Metris by Terentianus Maurus.

 

Stephanie Schwartz is a Lecturer in the History of Art at University College London. She is currently completing a book-length study of Walker Evans’s 1933 Cuba portfolio. Her writing on photography and film has appeared in the Oxford Art Journal, ARTMargins, and Photoworks.