A DECLARATION OF SUPPORT
Chili September 1973.
(Amsterdam): (De Bezige Bij), .
4to (247 × 199 mm), pp.. 24 black-and-white photographs. Printed saddle-stapled wrappers, brown, text in black; occasional scattered foxing, covers lightly toned as often, scuff small scuff to cover with an indented pressure mark affecting several leaves, small stain to head and nick to foot of spine. Previous owner's discreet signature to verso of front wrapper. Housed in a custom-made solander box. Former owner's bookplate in the box. An excellent copy.
First edition. On September 11, 1973, with the support of the CIA, General Augusto Pinochet headed a coup d’état which successfully overthrew President Salvador Allende’s democratically elected Chilean government. Wessing, a former assistant of Ed van der Elsken and Ata Kando, took the first plane he could board to Chile and took these photographs in the immediate aftermath.
Concerned that his films could be confiscated by the authorities, Wessing befriended a Dutch air hostess who ensured that they reached his colleague Oscar van Alphen in Amsterdam. Some of these photographs were published in newspapers and magazines shortly after, giving the world a first glimpse of the fate of many Chileans who had been caught up in the events. On his return to the Netherlands Wessing immediately assembled a book dummy and contacted Geert Lubberhuizen who had started a publishing house in 1943 as a clandestine operation during the German occupation. De Bezige Bij went on to become the publisher of choice for the most influential authors in the Netherlands, and Lubberhuizen, having noticed the impact of the photographs in the press, immediately set to work publishing the book. It was issued exactly as Wessing had envisaged, with no introductory text or captions, perhaps only a month after the coup took place.
The opening spread shows a pile of burning books and papers, topped with a copy of Punto Final magazine which has a photograph of Allende at the ballot box. We then see photographs of the shocked citizens of Santiago and the rounding up of suspected Leftists who were taken to the National Stadium, where many would disappear.
OCLC locates several copies in the Netherlands but only 2 copies in the United States and elsewhere: Stanford University Library; New York Public Library.
Boom, M., Photography Between Covers pp.117-9; Parr, M. and Badger, G., The Photobook: A History vol.I p.229; Dutch Eyes: A Critical History of Photography in the Netherlands; Auer, M. and M., 802 photo books from the M + M Auer collection p.562; Giertsberg, F. and Suermondt, R., The Dutch Photobook pp.124-5; Errata Editions: Books on Books no.8.
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