A Dialogue with what?
Interviewed by Michael Torosian in 1987 (publisher of the revised edition of ‘A Dialogue With Solitude’ in 2000, Lumière Press), Dave Heath declares that the inspiration for the title had come from 3 books: Koestler’s Dialogue with Death, Nietzsche’s On the Seventh Solitude and Yeats’ Dialogue Between Self and Soul. Clearly, the conversation was already much beyond the simple surface of things. Which reflects in the images, going directly to the inner soul, capturing individuals so often self-absorbed, isolated – in public spaces and at times in between other people – a fact that enhances their loneliness.
It is easy to think of an autobiographical reflection, for a man who was abandoned as a 4-year-old boy, and was sent to Korea as a machine gunner at 21. And then, traveled throughout the States. He was there, during the the Civil Rights Movement. He was there, meeting the Beat Generation. A lot of this ended in the book released 1965 after a 10 year preparation.
This book, that is different, was released 2018 by Steidl/Le Bal for the first extensive exhibition dedicated to the photographer in France. The plural in the title opens to new possibilities. A renewed conversation, it includes never before seen photographs and shows a different edit. The sequence – so important for an author who declared “It is in my sequencing of photographs that I create poetic structure, a connective linkage. not chronological or narrative in development such as a photo-essay, but emotional in development” – is interestingly dismantled and integrated.
The object is carefully designed, including the printing variations on a single image on the very last pages – a reference to Heath’s outstanding activity as a printer (did you know that it was him printing Frank’s photographs for his 1961 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York?)
Back the question above, the dialogue is waiting for you.