Interzone / Photo-Collages | William S. Burroughs, 1954-1961

Peter Orlovsky at Yosemite (photo by Ginsberg), 1956
Church of St Francis, Morocco, 1956
Michael Portman
Tangiers, top; possibly Ahmed Yacoubi (?), bottom
Burroughs castle steps, Tangiers (photo by Gysin?); Tangiers street scene; Kells Elvins (Ned Rorem?). Sobieszek thought 
it was Elvins based on Burroughs' description, but some favor Rorem, 1954
Kells Elvins, top; two views Tangiers, 1954
Cafe Central (possibly Paul Bowles), top; unidentified street (probably Mexico), bottom; unidentified man on street, bottom right.
Collage by William S. Burroughs, Tangiers 1954-1961



“The photo collage is a way to travel that must be used with skill and precision if we are to arrive […] 
The collage as a flexible hieroglyph language of juxtaposition: A collage makes a statement.”

 William Burroughs (1962)


The collages date to the mid-to-late fifties when Burroughs was living in Tangier and writing what was to become the text of  Naked Lunch.  As such, they offer a uniquely rare portrait of Burroughs' state-of-mind while he was in the midst of creating what was to become one of the seminal works of the Beat movement.

Most obviously, these collages echo Burroughs' famed "cut-up" technique and reflect the influence of long-time collaborator Brion Gysin, whom he would have recently met at the time of these creations.  Perhaps more importantly, however, these works reveal Burroughs in many ways re-creating in visual form the "Interzone" of his early novels, an "imaginary city" which was "a combination of New York, Mexico City, and Tangier" in which he "construct[ed] hallucinatory, interconnected narratives for its numerous characters"



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