I’ve been on the Stanley/Barker email list for some time now… for many months, this posed a problem stemming from an undiagnosed compulsive disorder, whereby I bought pretty much every photobook or photobook-adjacent object that came to my attention. If it was just the Stanley/Barker list, it would be bad enough, but I’m also on the Mack and Aperture lists, and they put out far more books than do Stanley/Barker.
Anyway, sometime in early 2021 they announced the forthcoming Fingerprint, a collection of facsimile polaroids (the peel-apart type) from Jim Goldberg, made during his time working on Raised by Wolves. I somehow skipped the first round… maybe I waited too long and it sold out (it did so in 5 days). Then, in March, 2021, they announced a second printing and I jumped on it.
If you’re wondering which one to get, Raised by Wolves or Fingerprint, they’re both sold out… Fingerprint is somewhat cheaper, mostly, but Raised by Wolves is the actual book, with the actual text, and appearances from the actual “stars,” (Echo, Tweeky Dave, Cookie, et. al.), plus many of the polaroids found in Fingerprint appear, albeit at 1/4 size in grids, horizontally on two spreads and a vertically on a single page, near the end of Raised by Wolves, between the climax where everyone is totally strung out and near death, and the resolution (and no spoilers). There are 58 of these in RBW and 45 in Fingerprint. Of the 45, twenty-three, plus a single exposure apparently made just after an accidental double exposure, first appeared in RBW. Several others appear as positives apparently made from the cleaned Polaroid negative. So overall there are roughly 20 brand new images, plus beat-up polaroid versions of a couple of others.
There are a few ways to think about Fingerprint, for me. First, it’s a sort of rather fancy add-on to the book version of Raised by Wolves. If you’re a Goldberg fan, especially an RBW fan, then perhaps Fingerprint makes sense. Second, related, and possibly primarily, it’s a collector’s item and object d’art. Third, there’s something of Goldberg’s process in it, sorta. It’s sorta like Huger Foote’s Now Here Then. From the Stanley/Barker copy on it, the images “served as drafts for photographs he would later make, as well as gifts for the subjects themselves.”
For me, who saw Fingerprint before I saw Raised by Wolves, I didn’t feel the same visceral connection to the people in the pictures, as I later did (and do) to the people in RBW. Maybe it’s all the text in the book, maybe it’s the hours and hours and hours over 4 or 5 days I spent pouring over, rereading, thinking, even dreaming, about RBW, but, really, I could do without Fingerprint.
I’m not knocking it, not at all. As an object or set of objects, it’s wonderful, and it’ll look great, all crisp and sharp-cornered and new, wedged there on the shelf next to my beat-up heavily-used copy of Raised by Wolves. But while RBW is beat up for a reason—it’s a former library book and already received much more handling since it became part of my collection—Fingerprint is likely to go onto the shelf and never come off again. And when it comes time to cash in on the alt-401K that is my photobook collection, I sadly expect the first edition RBW will always fetch more than Fingerprint.
Oh well. It’s a cool thing and I’m glad-enough to have it.
Fingerprint is long sold out at Stanley/Barker. You can find copies all over online, and, really, save your money and get Raised by Wolves first, then pick up a copy of Fingerprint later when you just have to have more from that body of work.