Everyone's freaking out about the Twin Peaks redux. If you haven't yet seen Todd Hido's Twin Peaks Revisited, published recently in TIME, it's eerie and inspired. Additionally awe-inducing is Fuego Books' not yet published, A Place Both Wonderful And Strange. The book, if funded on Kickstarter, will feature 137 photographs from 12 photographers from The United States, The United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Australia and Switzerland, divided into 12 individual interpretations. With just a couple weeks remaining on the fundraiser, I spoke with publisher Gustavo Alemán to learn more about his ideas and obsession with Twin Peaks.
If you're as excited as we are, you have until June 20th to support this wonderful and strange project. Full details HERE. Be sure to watch the video at the end of this interview.
Interview by Jon Feinstein
Jon Feinstein: How did this project come about?
Gustavo Alemán: Twin Peaks has been important to me since the TV series was broadcast in the 90's. I was 13 and I remember chatting about the previous night episode with my classmates at school and creating strange theories. I think it was not the most suitable series for our age, but we all saw it anyway. On the other hand, since I started to work in photography I always try to think of ways to get out of our little circle. The idea that we are photographers who make books for other photographers makes me angry and I think we would have to do things to make our audience bigger. It will never be a mass audience, but there are a lot of people interested in culture that could get closer to photography. But I think they see it as something impenetrable and full of codes they do not understand. All these things were in my head last year. I was traveling with my sister in Portugal and driving on a mountain road. On the radio of the car the musical "Hamilton" sounded. The mountain road, the long trip, the trees and “Hamilton” I think created new connections on my mind. I thought one possible way to bring photography closer to a wider audience was to relate it to popular culture (as I think “Hamilton” did). And with my enduring obsession with Twin Peaks and his return to TV, I thought it was a good way to bring those two ideas together.
Feinstein: How did you go about selecting the participating photographers?
Alemán: One of the most interesting things for me about Twin Peaks is that it is different things for different people. Some focus on the mystery, others in their most whimsy aspects, or even in their homage / parody of the television soap opera. A book dealing with Twin Peaks should reflect that diversity of interpretations. So we decided that the anthology format was a good solution for the book. Gather a set of small stories or series about Lynchian themes and obsessions. To get the authors we did two things: the first was to invite a small group of photographers that interested us to contribute to the book. And the second was to create an international call in which we received proposals to be part of the book. Although we are a small publisher from Spain, we received 188 proposals from around the world. It was really hard to decide and it would have been possible to make a book twice as big. We would love the first book to do well and have the opportunity to do Volume 2 in the future. In the final group there are authors that saw the series in its original run and other that have discovered it later, when its status as cultural milestone has been already stablished. That interested us as well at the time of selecting the participants.
Feinstein: I think it's interesting to see such an international group of photographers participating -- do you see a distinction between how photographers of different national origin interpreted the assignment?
Alemán: I think Twin Peaks, and many of Lynch's films in general, are quintessentially American stories. One of its themes could be the dark side of the American ideal of life. Thus, it seemed to us that bringing together a group of American photographers and at the same time choosing photographers from the rest of the world could be an interesting contrast. American culture, through film and music, is something that influences us globally in many ways. I think any work inspired by Twin Peaks has to have this background and it is interesting to see how authors from different places deal with it. In the book there are chapters set in a hotel in Poland, in an Italian mountain village, or in Australia. Everyone has something American, but at the same time that geographical diversity and ways of seeing gives the book a layer of extra strangeness. Which is very suitable for the subject.
Feinstein: How did Twin Peaks (and David Lynch's work in general) influence how you look at photography?
Alemán: Allow me to quote myself (in the crowdfunding text); "The best contemporary photography is a lot like Twin Peaks: it shows us a reality but it alludes to something deeper, it requires the active participation of the viewer and, with simple elements, creates an infinite world." I think that photography is more appropriate to suggest questions than to provide concrete answers. Photographs are elements of fascination and how we respond to them is closely related to who we are. One thing that interests me about Lynch is that he never offers easy interpretations of his works. The explanation is not important, the important thing is the work. They are not difficult in a premeditated way, but simply the expression of a creative mind. For our book, we did not want images copying the Twin Peaks iconic shots, but rather dealing with Lynch's themes and interests in a fascinating way.
Feinstein: Of all the potential Twin Peaks references for the book's title, what's the significance of "For a Place both Wonderful and Strange?"
Alemán: The title comes from a quote from Agent Cooper in one of the episodes of season 2. Although it is not a chapter written or directed by Lynch, I think it is a good summary of the series. That idea of duality, of external perfection and internal corruption, seems to me very interesting. When selecting the authors for the book, we believe that a mixture of a more direct but not strictly documentary photography, with a more metaphorical and symbolic approach, could be an interesting cocktail. Twin Peaks is not a single thing, nor does photography have to approach its subject in one way, so the title refers to that issue as well.
Feinstein: I'm excited to see this get funded! Why Kickstarter?
Alemán: The simplest answer would be this: we wanted to make a big book, with a big print run and, being a small publisher, we do not have enough financial muscle to tackle such a project ourselves. But, that being true, it is not the only reason to choose Kickstarter. Our desire to make a large book, an attractive object full of very different photographs, and with a wide circulation, is to reach an audience that does not usually buy books of photography. In a way, our plan is to get people who are interested in Twin Peaks and David Lynch, to also get in contact with a varied and interesting vision on contemporary photography. So Kickstarter, with their global reach and variety of audiences, seemed like a good place for the project.