Ainsi soit-il; so be it. That’s the phrase photographer Ari Marcopoulos remembers being taught by Robert Frank during the first of his two visits to his house in Mabou in Nova Scotia. He and his wife had been invited by Frank and his wife, June Leaf, and then, shortly after their second visit to Mabou, Frank would pass away in 2019, aged 94. Marcopoulos’ brilliant photobook “Ainsi Soit-Il” is partly a personal diary of the time spent with Frank, this giant of the photography world (Marcopoulos describes his familiarity with the view in Mabou despite never having been there, simply from having seen it in Frank’s photographs), on some of his last days on earth. Marcopoulos shows the house, the nearby woods, the stunning views, Frank’s living room, his wrinkles, his frailty. But more than that, “Ainsi Soit-Il” also explores Nova Scotia as a place and as a cultural region, mentions its past and the traces left behind by history.
“When Robert speaks, Ari takes note, ‘Ainsi soit-il’—’So be it’—is a repeated mantra, a way of letting go of the pain. He lost both children, Andrea and Pablo; their memorials are up the hill, in an overgrown patch which Ari and [Frank’s wife] June will hike up together. Ari, camera laden, bushwhacked their way, holding June with one hand, up a steep slope to take a polaroid for Robert, so he can recall. Later, when they sit together, Robert says, ‘They never leave you.’ I think photographers contemplate loss like no others; I wonder if it is loss that drives these two men who take pictures diary-style. Keeping track of the people in their world—making them remain.”
― from Kara Walker’s essay “So Be It”
Each copy includes one signed risograph print (available in two motifs and three different colors) chosen at random.
- 280 × 210 mm
- 176 pages
- Softcover, Slipcase