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

 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. 
 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. 
 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. 
 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 wanted my photographs to be as powerful as the last thing a person sees or remembers before death. 
 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. 
 People who hate what I make hate me, too. They must think I am a demon or some kind of evil sorcerer. Those who understand what I do appreciate the determination, love, and courage it takes to find wonder and beauty in people who are considered by society to be damaged, unclean, dysfunctional, or wretched. 
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