Joel-Peter Witkin
[Photographer, b. 1939, Brooklyn, New York, lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.]

 I wanted my photographs to be as powerful as the last thing a person sees or remembers before death. 
 I never photograph anything I don’t believe in. If I love working with death, it’s because even in death I find this power of reality that no sculptor or painter could recreate, not even a Michelangelo or a Da Vinci. 
 I’ve come to realize that the mark is the primal gesture, the internal connection of the caveman to the cosmos; an impossibility similar to an impulse in an insect’s nervous system that it could somehow reduce to dust a steel beam by endlessly crawling over it. 
 If there is pain in my photographs, it relates to the pain in my own existence. 
 To me extreme things are like miracles. There is nothing as boring as a person who is just okay. But I could easily live in a world populated with these disjunctive, bizarre things... I operate out of confusion, towards clarity. 
 My purpose is to acknowledge the wonder of being part of Creation. Though I myself don’t create anything; I make from what has been created. 
 I need [as models] physical marvels—a person, thing or act so extraordinary as to inspire wonder: someone with wings, horns, tails, fins, claws, reversed feet, head, hands. Anyone with additional arms, legs, eyes, breasts, genitals, ears, nose, lips, head. Anyone without a face. Pinheads, dwarfs, giants, Satyrs. A woman with one breast (center); a woman with breast so large as to require Daliesque supports; women whose faces are covered with hair or large skin lesions and willing to pose in evening gowns. Active and retired sideshow performers, contortionists (erotic), anyone with a parasitic twin, people who live as comic book heroes. Boot, corset, and bondage fetishists, a beautiful woman with functional appendages in place of arms, anorexics (preferably bald), the romantic and criminally insane (nude only). All manner of extreme visual perversions. A young blonde girl with two faces. Hermaphrodites and taratoids (alive and dead). Beings from other planets. Anyone bearing the wounds of Christ. Anyone claiming to be God. God. 
 I believe in building photographs. I don’t like the unpredictable—I have a clear idea of what I want long before I click the shutter. 
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