Silver Meadows was the first B-Sides Boxed Set to appear. It was long out of print when I first discovered B-Sides and I scored this signed Artist’s Proof (#AP/500) only last year, around the same time that I dropped a nearly equivalent, rather embarrassingly large amount of money on Excerpts from Silver Meadows, when B-Sides offered a few of them during an Xmas sale. With it, I now have what is, so far, a complete set of B-Sides Boxed Sets, which fills me with a sense of excitement similar to the excitement I still feel about about the double handful of complete Tops and Fleer baseball card sets I acquired over a year or two back in the late 1980s. Not the excitement 10 year old me had back then, but the distant, wildly diminished feeling of excitement the 40+-year-old me still has about those card sets, card sets that were stolen from me in 1995 or 6. Some excitement, that is, for sure, but not much, really…
I’m sure this sounds like a slam against B Sides, but I don’t mean it that way. I’m 43 years old and excitement is both rare, in general, and of a different order than what I felt as a younger person. It may indicate a general, pervasive, and undiagnosed depression; it may just be getting older. I suspect those are not the same; I also expect they’re not mutually exclusive.*
Anyway, the 5 (so far) boxed sets look great hanging out together on a shelf.
Regardless, this isn’t about B Sides in general (which I appreciate and mostly enjoy), but about the specific Silver Meadows B Sides Set.
Silver Meadows is a curated collection of outtakes, alternate shots, and scenes deleted from Excerpts from Silver Meadows. The title card contains a quote from Hido that serves as the back cover and sort of explains the project: “This specially curated set of pictures from my archives completes a deeper and alternative view on the narrative themes in Excerpts from Silver Meadows.” And the publisher’s blurb is worth quoting, if only for Hido’s brief, useful thoughts on photobook making.
Todd Hido’s “Silver Meadows” B-Sides Box Set is a follow-up publication to the artist’s award-winning 2013 monograph, Excerpts from Silver Meadows. Designed to function as a companion to that title as well as a sovereign object in its own right, B-Sides Box Set comprises 50 images printed on loose cards, presented in a 2-piece lucite box. The selection includes alternate images that didn’t make it into the book, as well as variations of images that did. The collection offers a behind-the-scenes look at how Hido selects and arranges images in book form. ‘Making good and interesting pictures is only half of what it takes to make a memorable visual book,’ Hido explains. ‘The way one organizes images to create a narrative sequence also plays an important role in creating something that people want to pick up and take home.’B Sides Box Sets blurb for Todd Hido’s Silver Meadows. retrieved from https://bsidesboxsets.com/collections/todd-hido/products/todd-hido-silver-meadows-box-set-nazraeli-press 9 February 2022.
The set contains many recognizable images, for those familiar with Excerpts from Silver Meadows: a black & white version and multiple outtakes from shoot with Khrystyna that produced the famous picture of the girl in the red top that appears on the cover of the book; alternate treatments on reproductions of a photograph of Hido’s aunt (the cover picture of Silver Meadows B Sides); variants on the “Mean Mean Wayne” picture; a few unused street signs pictures and etc. There are also a few complete outtakes: an archival picture from (I suspect) a 1970s birthday party, and an alternate BMX bike jump picture; a picture or two featuring recognizable models (who do appear in Excerpts), from sessions and in scenes that don’t appear in the book.
In my view, Silver Meadows can really stand on its own. Sure, viewers will benefit from a familiarity with Excerpts, but it’s not entirely necessary. I really appreciate having some Hido images to flip through that don’t require a podium or lectern or table, though, while B Sides cards are very well printed, the size renders smaller details invisible. Whether or not it “completes” Excerpts, though, I’m not sure about.
In thinking about this set, I ended up rereading the Aperture workshop book on Landscapes, Interiors, and the Nude, and one of Hido’s remarks really put Excerpts into focus for me, and, as usual, it’s probably obvious to all other viewers of the work.
When I was setting up a sequence of photographs for Excerpts from Silver Meadows, I thought about it as if I were ducking in and out of people’s lives. I’ll take the road to a place and we’ll be there for a little bit, and then we’ll go somewhere else and be there for a short time, and then move on again.Hido, Todd. on Landscapes, Interiors, and the Nude. Aperture, NY, 2014. p. 106
Ah, so that’s why there are shifts from house to house and model to model… I thought it was all Hido’s memories, or all a single story, a story of misspent youth and all, and it never really gelled for me. With the idea that it’s different stories, or not even stories, really, but moments captured from different lives, different homes, different memories, it really comes together, and if I was into revising ratings, I’d push Excerpts up to 5 stars off it. Alas, I have a hard time going back like that.
What does this have to do with Silver Meadows? Well, knowing how Excerpts works really completes that work for me, and Silver Meadows maybe doesn’t add so much, and, for me, it’s really more a stand-alone object. It’s one that I cherish and am happy to have (see above), but I wouldn’t really say it “completes” or even “extends” Excerpts. It’s nice to have outtakes, like it’s nice to have some of the contact sheets from House Hunting in on Landscapes…
Still, because I so appreciate 1) B Sides in general and 2) having hand-holdable Hido pictures to appreciate and 3) have 48 Excerpts outtakes, I rate Silver Meadows a solid 4 stars.
B Sides has been quiet for awhile. Erik Kessles’ Notes on Accidents came out a couple of years ago, and they put out a special edition of 50, signed copies of Silver Meadows (at time of writing some remain available), though $150 is a bit steep.** If you’re unaware of B Sides, go check them out! They’re doing interesting things, and I look forward to and hope they produce more sets.
*This, too, may be an indication of undiagnosed depression… :shrugs. Oh well.
**I checked my receipts and I only paid $100 for my AP copy.