Sternthal Books is proud to present our 16th edition, Songs Of Innocence and Experience: A Study Guide, by Rick Morris Pushinsky. The edition was launched at London’s National Portrait Gallery this summer, and has since been shortlisted in the The Royal Photographic Society’s 2016 PhotoBook Competition and The International Prize at Buenos Aire’s Feria de Libros de Fotos de Autor.
Pushinsky shows us scenes from everyday life, presented within a square format in a muted, pastel palette. The series meditates upon ‘Innocence’ and ‘Experience’, modes of perception through which William Blake and Romanticism in general came to view life. Childhood is seen as a state of protected innocence rather than original sin, which through ‘experience’ gives way to the fallen world and its institutions. This world impinges on childhood itself, bringing about the loss of childhood and vitality, alongside the introduction of fear and inhibition.
The edition is a visual response to William Blake’s 1789 illustrated collection of poems ‘Song’s Of Innocence and Experience’— using photographs interwoven with fragments of text from Francis Gilbert’s study guide — in order to forward a vision of the world seen through the prism of Blake’s imagination. Each image takes a poem’s central concept as its starting point, echoing Blake’s use of the ‘material’ as a metaphor for the metaphysical.