“The New Reformers”

English visual artist, writer, and performance artist Brion Gysin (1916-1986) was one of William S. Burroughs’s most trusted friends and his closest collaborator. Burroughs remembered Gysin as “the only man he ever respected.” Interdisciplinary, inter- and multinational in scope, Gysin is credited for being ahead of his time, transcending generic boundaries, and experimenting with new media. Gysin’s calligraphic painting style was heavily influenced by Arabic calligraphy he discovered in Morocco, his study of Japanese, and black magic spells. His writing also incorporated experiments with audio tape, cut-ups, and permutation poems.

This silver gelatin photo collage by François Lagarde depicts Burroughs (left) and Gysin’s heads atop statues from Geneva’s Reformation Wall. Lagarde (b. 1949) had taken a series of ten photographs of the pair in Geneva, which were published in a portfolio titled Le Colloque de Tanger in 1976.

François Lagarde. [The New Reformers.]  Le Colloque de Tanger.  Geneva: François Lagarde, 1975. Photographer’s stamp on verso; number 8 of an edition of 50.

François Lagarde. [“The New Reformers.”] Le Colloque de Tanger. Geneva: François Lagarde, 1975. Photographer’s stamp on verso; number 8 of an edition of 50.

Check out more from Special Collections’s current gallery exhibition Nothing Is True, Everything Is Permitted: William S. Burroughs at 100 at http://www.lib.udel.edu/ud/spec/exhibits/burroughs/intro.html

Maureen Cech

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