Photographs by Elizabeth Heyert. Interview by Stacey D’Erasmo.
Sei Swann, 2009. 124 pp., 81 color illustrations, 10¾x13¾".
Best known for her controversial 2005 postmortem portrait series The Travelers, which The New
York Times called “a peek... at the vibrant, living face beneath the mask of death,” the former
architectural photographer Elizabeth Heyert resumes her role as observer and voyeur in this
fascinating third volume, The Narcissists. Inspired by the myth of Narcissus, and as a challenge
to the Avedon idea that a photograph is about a relationship between two people, Heyert takes
us through the looking glass, capturing her subjects unaware through a one-way mirror in a
series of 15-minute photo-sessions. The volume includes 24 of those color portraits—a 12 yearold
beauty queen dressed as Barbie, an aging male bodybuilder, a bejeweled socialite and a
Marilyn Monroe look-alike, among them—caught gazing into their own eyes. This book’s
design, created by the Amsterdam-based studio Featuring, hinges on Heyert’s use of candid
triptych close-ups of each portrait, presented in three-panel gatefolds, which reveal subtle
inconsistencies amidst the cosmetic perfection of her subjects.
Read George Slade's review of The Narcissists in photo-eye Magazine.
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