Dear Ave Pildas

Ave Pildas, STAR STRUCK, Deadbeat Club Press, 2022

Ave Pildas, Star Struck

Hardcover, 104 Pages, B&W Duotone Offset, 10.5” x 12” , ISBN: 978-1-952523-04-5

Text, ‘Dear Ave Pildas’, by David Campany


Dear Ave

Hollywood Boulevard, Walk of Fame, 1970s.  You were there, with your camera, with your love of life and people. It seems you turned the sidewalk into a little stage, and everyone came for a momentary audition. Some wanted to be famous, some were OK with a walk-on part, most were just happy to see you. I can sense the life of that street. A brief time before heavy commercialisation and selfies. I can see it was rough around the edges. But oh, so alive.

What was it Oscar Wilde said? “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”, although on Hollywood Boulevard the stars were underfoot too. Those crazy plaques in the sidewalk. I have always loved it that people look for the star of their favourite celebrity and walk oblivious over the ones that don’t interest them. There is a metaphor in there somewhere.

I know a number of these photos got out into the world back then. The dedicated little world of photography magazines. You may be pleased to know I have found some of them in a library here in London. I sat on the floor between the stacks and imagined it was the summer of 1975 and these magazines were new.  There is your name on the silver-grey cover of Creative Camera, along with Ed Grazda, Anders Petersen and Judy Steiner. I looked at your photographs and ran my fingers over the pages, nearly half a century old. I saw these people, in vivid fragments of time, but I wondered what they saw. What did you look like back then, Ave? I bet you had a great smile. And great shirts too.

Well…the calendar pages blew. It seems you have kept working, kept shooting, never losing that affection for things and people, and how they look in pictures.

And now it is 2022. The number looks like science fiction, and the world feels like it. But patience is a virtue (and a pain in the ass) and the world now has a book of your photos of Hollywood Boulevard. I know we all want our recognition immediately, and it can be difficult when it doesn’t come. But good photographs live on, and they have second lives. I think of Walker Evans taking his photos of strangers on the New York subway in 1938. He didn’t publish a book of them until 1966. Henri Cartier-Bresson, who I know you admired deeply, worked for twenty years before he made a book.

My friend the photographer Dayanita Singh said: “A book is a conversation with a stranger in the future.” That feels about right. Imagine this book in fifty years’ time. If there are people around to look at it, they will see in it people just like themselves. Sure, things will be different, just as they are now, but your photos have a way of getting to the eternal as much as the ephemeral. I know they say the arrow of photography is always pointing backwards in time. We get that, but it’s only half true. Photographs have a future. A future that we don’t have.

I hope we meet one day, Ave.

Congratulations. But most of all – thank you.

David Campany

London, 21 March, 2022

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