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

 I work alone during printing and begin by communicating with my equipment and chemistry, thanking them in advance. I place a negative in the enlarger and the darkroom becomes a kind of holy house... 
 Artists are the people among us who realize creation didn’t stop on the sixth day. 
 Sometimes I say to myself that the work is smarter than I am. 
 Actually there are two decisive moments: the first when I record something with the camera, the second when I print. What I’m showing you here are not just mechanical records, but final objects, representing interactions between such records and myself. I draw on the negative, or scratch it, or take things out. 
 I had met these people the night before at the S and M club, and had convinced them to be photographed. When all was ready, this one said “Mr. Witkin, I don’t want to show my thing. Is there any way we can make it be there without showing it?” I just shouted, “Get the fuck on the set”—so he acted submissive and kind of liked it. But the guy who was to put the blade into his cock started complaining: “I can’t reach this.” So I screamed, “You just have to.” I was kind of nervous. I’d been working all night to set everything up. 
 Due to present censorship factors, the publisher and I have not included several important photographs in this presentation of my work. (Label on the monograph “Forty Photographs”) 
 I [print] myself because that, for me, is the decisive moment: you can change the meaning of a photograph by how you print it. 
 At the moment of photography I act instantaneously and instinctively. At the moment of printing I take time for esthetic decisions for which I didn’t have time with the camera, I re-design the image into something more powerful, more mysterious. 
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