PATTERSON, Christian. Redheaded Peckerwood. (London): Mack, (2011). ASSOCIATION COPY

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PATTERSON, Christian.
Redheaded Peckerwood.
(London): Mack, (2011).

8vo (240 × 191 mm), pp.[164]. Pink endpapers. 98 colour and black-and-white photographs, reproductions of documents and other ephemera. 24pp saddle-stapled text booklet and 3 pieces of ephemera in facsimile tipped in as issued. Illustrated paper-covered boards; nick to head of spine at hinge, one tip bumped affecting the first few pages. Inscribed by Patterson in black ink to title-page. Near-fine.

First edition, inscribed by Patterson to Peter Fraser; ‘For Peter / with great admiration, / respect and thanks / [signed] Christian Patterson’. Fraser and Patterson first met in 2006, having both spent time with William Eggleston at formative points in their careers. Fraser spent some months in Memphis living and working with Eggleston in 1984, whilst Patterson moved to Tennessee to assist Eggleston and work on the digitization of his archive between 2002-2005. Redheaded Peckerwood is based on the story of 19 year old Charles Starkweather and 14 year old Caril Ann Fugate who in January 1958 went on a three day killing spree across Nebraska and into Wyoming, murdering ten people including Fugate’s family. These events were also the inspiration for Terence Malick’s film Badlands (1973), and Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994).

Like his cinematic forebears Patterson uses aspects from the story as a starting point to make a series of images that have some basis in a historical truth but also allow for his interpretation of the events. He followed the trail of Starkweather and Fugate, photographing places and objects that were central to the story, speaking to police officers and local people, and visiting archives and newspapers where he found first person accounts of the events. The title makes reference to a derisory term used by Southern black people to refer to poor whites from rural neighbourhoods. Luc Sante writes that ‘Redheaded Peckerwood, which unerringly walks the fine line between fiction and nonfiction, is a disturbingly beautiful narrative about unfathomable violence and its place on the land.’

Parr, M. and Badger, G., The Photobook: A History vol.III p.309.


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