Some of you know that I have always been a fairly passionate collector of photobooks, and I'd like to share my most recent acquisition.
“Chili, September 1973” is a very rare first printing of the first edition of Koen Wessing’s critically acclaimed photobook which was published by De Bezigle Bij, Amsterdam in 1973. It contains 24 black-and gravures (most of them double page) and measuring approximately 10.75” x 7.75”, the book is bound in illustrated wrappers.
*From the book “The Photobook: A History” by Parr & Gerry Badger:
"The Dutch photographer Koen Wessing was on the streets of Santiago immediately after the coup happened. His gritty documentary pictures were quickly published in this no frills, extremely elegant photobook … There are not many images in the book, but each is carefully considered, modest and succinct ... despite the difficulties of taking photographs in such a tense and difficult situation. The main thrust of the book is the coup’s immediate aftermath, the shock and grief of the people, the rounding up of Allende’s supporters by the Army, and their herding into the now notorious National Stadium in Santiago, where many would be tortured and killed. Wessing vividly captures one of these executions, in a two-page sequence that forms the book’s climax.”
For some time, I had been looking for a nice copy of this book, and I found an antiquarian book dealer in Amsterdam who had a copy. As he had met Wessing a few times. I asked him if he could get the book signed. A week or two later, I received an email from Jaap (the dealer), and this is what he wrote on January 10th, 2011:
"To get Koen's signature was not easy, because I don't know where he lives at the moment, and to meet him downtown, (which was not so difficult in the past) has become complicated because Koen is very ill, he suffers from lung cancer and leads as far as I can judge a solitary life and does not appear in public often. The only place that he frequents now and then is a pub near the Spui, where the weekly bookmarket is. There I saw met him recently , and although he was in company, I could ask him for his signature. He agreed."
Koen Wessing died less than three weeks later on February 2nd, 2011.
The images are amazing-they make you want to see more of Koen Wessing's images from this incredible event in the history of Chile.