July 27, 2012 Author: Paul Schiek
Dead Men Don’t Look Like Me is the latest book from American photographer Paul Schiek, a collection of mug shots rescued from an abandoned prison in Georgia. Schiek winnowed a cache of photographs down to a mere 20 plates for this work, re-photographing the originals, but leaving their scratches and staples intact. Damaged, cracked and folded, these images have been nobody’s darlings, perhaps like their subjects.
Selecting images that roughly resembled himself, Schiek formed a collection of portraits of identities that could have been. All personal details of the men behind the mug shots are absent – questions of who they are, what they’re in for and for how long, are left to speculation. With many projects being done nowadays in the field of found photography, the work isn’t remarkable necessarily for its individualism, but is interesting in its use of symbolic outward objects to represent interpretations of self. In this way, the project feels like a personal expression, an exploration of alternative paths in one man’s life, limited by his experience within a given time and space. With the photos themselves printed on a heavy-stock paper, and titling in a hand-written font of coarse chicken-scratch, the minimalist book is nicely designed and satisfying to the touch.
Dead Men Don’t Look Like Me is printed as a limited release of 800, or as a special box set. Additionally, you can buy a limited edition print featuring the signatures of the men who are included in the book.