Self Portrait With Cows Going Home

Photographs by Sylvia Plachy

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9 11/16 x 11 5/16 inches 208 pages, 22 four-color and 98 duotone Hardcover 978-1-931788-43-4 Fall 2004
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In this, Plachy's most complex and personal book to date, we are asked to reconsider ideas of self-portraiture and going home again. In 1956, in the wake of the Hungarian Revolution, Plachy and her parents escaped into Austria carrying only a small valise. She returned to Hungary eight years later, this time with a camera in hand. Through the gently subversive images gathered here, her life is revealed via clues, fragments of words, and pictures as if by someone looking into a mirror and seeing her life pass before her eyes-not linearly like a film, but rather in layers. Sylvia Plachy's other books include Unguided Tour (Aperture, 1990), for which she won an International Center of Photography Infinity Award; Red Light, a book of documentary work on the sex industry (1996); and Signs and Relics (2000). Plachy has had one-person shows at the Whitney Museum at Philip Morris, the Queens Museum, and the Minneapolis Institute of Fine Arts, among other venues in the United States, as well as in Budapest, Ljubljana, Manchester, Berlin, Vancouver, Perpignan, Arles, and Pingyau, China. She has won a Guggenheim fellowship, and publishes regularly in periodicals including the The New Yorker, TIME, Smithsonian, GEO, and The Village Voice.


Sylvia Plachy's photo-essays and portraits have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Village Voice, Granta, Artforum, Fortune, and other publications, and have been exhibited in galleries and museums in Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, Berlin, Paris, Budapest, and Tokyo. Plachy’s most recent book, Self Portrait with Cows Going Home (Aperture, 2004), a personal history of central Europe in photographs and text, received a 2004 Golden Light award for best book, and in spring 2007, PhotoEspaña, Madrid, featured a retrospective exhibition of her work. Plachy (born 1943, Budapest) has taught and lectured widely.

In 1956, in the wake of the Hungarian Revolution, Plachy and her parents escaped into Austria carrying only a small valise. They ultimately settled in the United States in 1958. Plachy has returned to Eastern Europe numerous times to photograph her homeland and the images are compiled in her most recent monograph Self Portrait with Cows Going Home (Aperture, 2004). Her first book, Unguided Tour (Aperture, 1990), won an International Center of Photography Infinity Award. Red Light: Inside the Sex Industry (1996) andSigns and Relics (2000) followed, both of which garnered Plachy much critical praise. Plachy has exhibited her work at several U.S. venues including the Whitney Museum, New York; the Queens Museum, New York; and the Minneapolis Institute of Fine Arts. She has also had shows in Budapest, Ljubljana, Manchester, Berlin, Vancouver, Perpignan, Arles, and Pingyau, China. She is a recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Time, GEO, Granta, Artforum, Conde Nast Traveler, New York Times Magazine, among many other outlets. For over eight years, the Village Voice published a weekly uncaptioned, black and white photograph of Plachy's work under the heading Sylvia Plachy's Unguided Tour, currently her photographs are featured in every issue of The New Yorker.

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