W. Eugene Smith

Excerpt from W. Eugene Smith's interview
with Philippe Halsman regarding
the Pittsburgh project, 1957.

W. Eugene Smith: I have now printed somewhere between 200 and 300 negatives of the 2,000 negatives I consider worthwhile and valid to the project.

Philippe Halsman: What in the world would anybody do with 200 prints?

WES: The prints so far still represent mere portions of the chapters, incidents, sub-essays within the whole of the project --- the 200 printed are a synthesis of that whole, indicating the breadth of it.

PH: How can this be financed? Is there any way, in American today, to pay a man back for his works?

WES: Time and pay? I don't know. It is not a new problem. How long did it take Joyce to do Ulysses? Finnegan's Wake? And what were his returns? I could never be rested within myself without doing this.

PH: But what of the photographer who does not have financial means?

WES: I don't. Sometimes it seems I financed it from the lining of my stomach. As for others --- if asked, I will advise them not to do it --- and I will hope they do.

PH: What if nobody sees it?

WES: The goal is the work itself, and with any real finality, the artist is never sure if he is or isn't finished.

--- From Dream Street
Edited by Sam Stephenson
©W. W. Norton Co.

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