The title of the first posthumous work from Chris Hondros is well chosen. Testament is a compilation of his archives collected by his family, friends and agency, including: Christina Piaia, whom he planned to marry; Jonathan Klein from Getty Images; Greg Campbell, his friend, who is working on a feature-length documentary about Chris’s life and work; and Régis Le Sommier, editor-in-chief of Paris Match, with whom he spent long, chaotic hours waiting during the War in Iraq .
In the introduction, Le Sommier tells a story that makes it sound like his friend and colleague was a genius in the vein of the poètes maudits: when he died he was carrying a copy of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea in his bag. Hondros had won many prizes, and he was also quite the character, with his strange taste in clothing like the tweed vests he wouldn’t trade in for the world, his mastery of classical piano and his habit of listening to language-learning tapes. (He couldn’t speak three words of another language, but he liked their musicality nonetheless.).
With this approach to the world, Hondros captured in brutal reality a strangeness that gives his images the rare power to catch one’s attention. Some photographs are hard to believe, like the surrealist one of an unconscious woman being transported on the uplifted arms of a crowd during the presidential campaign of George Weah in Liberia. She’s in the foreground, gigantic in proportion to the crowd, dressed in white like a saint, eyes closed, a fainted Madonna carrying the hopes of an entire people.
Then there’s the simultaneous, fiery explosion of a missile and bullet, which could be a photo by Harold Edgerton, who experimented in the 1930s with photography and movement using an apple and a .30 calibre bullet. It was taken in Libya, April 14th, 2011, a few days before his death. These bullets, like shrapnel, tear through bodies. The book contains two photographs from April 20th, the day Hondros was fatally injured. He was alongside the rebels, in a world of fire and bullets.
These photographs have been compiled in this release from PowerHouse books, and all that’s left is for them to appear in exhibitions and other books. Curators and friends, it’s your turn!
Chris Hondros “Testament”
Photographs and text by Chris Hondros
Edited by Alexandra Ciric, Francisco P. Bernasconi, and Christina Piaia
Introduction by Jonathan Klein
Foreword by Régis Le Sommier
Afterword by Greg Campbell
160 pages, 45 dollars
Wednesday Apr 09, 2014
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
The Powerhouse Arena [Dumbo]
37 Main Street Brooklyn
11201 New York