Papageorge Tod . Passing Through Eden

176 pages / 125 tritone plates / 30.5 cm x 29.2 cm / Hardcover with dust jacket /

Tod Papageorge began to photograph extensively in New York’s Central Park in the late 1970s, a few years after he turned from the Leica to medium-format cameras. These pictures, gathered in Passing Through Eden, luminously trace, as Rosalind Krauss has written about Papageorge’s work, “photography’s capacity to embrace the sensuous richness of physical reality… [in order to] come to…that fullness which Baudelaire used to call intimacy, when he meant eroticism.” From picture to picture, Papageorge constructs a realm that resembles our common world, but that, in its intense marrying of the sensual and poetic, irresistibly calls up the Eden invoked in the book’s title. Even more than this, he has edited and sequenced Passing Through Eden to parallel in its first half the opening chapters of Genesis — from the Creation through the (metaphorical) generations that follow on from Cain — before giving over the rest of the book to a virtuosic run of pictures that, from one to the next, might invoke Man before the Flood, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, or energetically confirm that the human comedy is alive and well in Central Park.This ambitious book — incorporating work made over the course of 25 years — describes not only Papageorge’s remarkable success at making photographs that often read like condensed narratives, but also his bold attempt to weave them into extended sequences that echo shared cultural narratives. It challenges the reader to succumb (or not) to the pleasures of the “fullness” of each individual photograph, while ignoring (or not) the tug of a tale asking to be told. Like Eden itself, this book sets our hunger for beauty against that of knowledge, while reminding us of some of the ways that we read, and come to know, books.