Laurence Bump and Nils Vidstrand
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Facade, Chicago, Composite with Shirley Berman
Edmund Teske (American, 1911 - 1996)
Chicago, Illinois, United States (Place created)
1940 and 1956; print 1956
Gelatin silver print
9.2 x 11.7 cm (3 5/8 x 4 5/8 in.)
© Edmund Teske Archives/Laurence Bump and Nils Vidstrand, 2001
This dreamlike image of a female face on the side of a building is the result of two images printed to appear as one. The woman's visage is set against "masculine" elements such as the building's rough exterior, and in the distance, a smokestack and electrical tower. Hanging clothes soften this stark industrial world, and the woman's closed eyes and thoughtful expression set a contemplative mood.
Teske photographed the landscape in 1940 in a steel industry shantytown on the outskirts of Chicago. The image is sandwiched with a 1956 negative portraying Shirley Berman, the wife of Wallace Berman, a Beat movement artist and poet. Both were friends of Teske in Los Angeles; he often used Shirley's portrait in composite pictures as an archetypal female figure.
For Teske, printing old negatives had a nostalgic and symbolic function. The composite photograph created a timeless, if not idealized, world that would otherwise be out of reach with a more conventional photographic approach. This composite image hints at a psychological state: the realm of the imagination.