BLIND Faith

Article excerpt

AIDS has dimmed his eyesight, but photographer John Dugdale keeps working. His art informs a rich new book

The year 1993 was bad for John Dugdale. That was the year Dugdale, already a successful commercial photographer, had an AIDS-related stroke that paralyzed him from the neck down and destroyed most of his eyesight. After seven months in the hospital, Dugdale taught himself to walk again and figured out how to use his changed sight to make art. "I had lots of work to do," he says of his unexpected recovery. "I didn't want to leave my family. I must have felt deep down that I hadn't achieved what is most important in my life."

Dugdale's photographs are the subject of a spectacular new book published by 21st: The Journal of Contemporary Photography. "We're really happy that John wanted to work with us," says Lance Speer, co-owner and contributing editor of the publishing house. "His work is so potent and visionary."

The third volume in the company's line of almost unbelievably opulent art books, John Dugdale: The Clandestine Mind comes in three versions--ranging from the trade edition, which starts at $150, to the museum edition, which starts at $6,500--and showcases hundred-year-old printing processes and delicately designed pages of photos and texts.

These intricate processes are a perfect match for Dugdale's photographs, which are dreamy visions of nudes and still lifes, all seen through a melancholy hazy blue, a product of the 19th-century cyanotype process. …