The PhotoBook Journal

April 24, 2013

Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison – The Architect’s Brother


Copyright Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison 2000 published by Twin Palms Publishers

Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison’s photobook The Architect’s Brother is a beautiful enigma.  The book is composed of eight sections that were developed over a span of seven years (1993 – 2000). The sections are sequenced serially, The Architect’s Brother (1993 – 1994), Cardboard Sky (1994), Witnessland (1995 – 1996), Exhausted Globe (1997), Industrial Land (1997), Promisedland (1998), Earth Elegies (1999 – 2000), and Kingdom (2000).

I find it easy to become visually captivated with the underlying techniques that the ParkeHarrison’s utilized to create and embellish these magical photographs; the elaborate staged sets, backdrop paintings, and complex sculptural structures of their own invention. The reader will also recognize one consistent individual who is found within each photograph, as the subject for these photographs is Robert ParkeHarrison, who portrays the role that has become known as “everyman”.

This body of work has been written about frequently since its inception over the past thirteen years, with one statement by Marc Ruby that I think summarizes it well; “Many of the images are ambivalent, touching on both darkness and light, making a clear decision impossible. The figure seems melancholy, engaged in strange almost hopeless acts. But he persists, carrying on a quest intended to heal or repair a desolate world.”

The ParkeHarrisons have stated “We create works in response to the ever-bleakening relationship linking humans, technology, and nature. These works feature an ambiguous narrative that offers insight into the dilemma posed by science and technology’s failed promise to fix our problems, provide explanations, and furnish certainty pertaining to the human condition.  Strange scenes of hybridizing forces, swarming elements, and bleeding overabundance portray Nature unleashed by technology and the human hand.”

The hard cover folio is in black cloth with a tipped-in print on the front boards. The photobook used in conjunction with this review is from the 7th printing, whereas the first edition has a dark blue cloth and tipped-in print. The first edition was initially attributed only to Robert ParkeHarrison but in subsequent printings his wife Shana, his artistic partner, is included as a co-author of the work. For the second edition, another chapter, Passage created in 2001, was included with an additional five plates.

Other Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison book reviewed on the The Photobook: counterpoint

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook










  1. beautiful

    creative surreal





    Comment by Geo Sans — April 24, 2013 @ 6:37 am

  2. enigmatic, enchanting – and very, very beautiful!

    Comment by Sigrun — April 24, 2013 @ 8:11 am

  3. […] Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison – The Architect’s Brother  (Twin Palms Publishers, 2000) […]

    Pingback by 10 x 10 American Photobooks | The PhotoBook — April 25, 2013 @ 5:35 am

  4. Interesting. Very esoteric!

    Comment by jaym1107 — April 27, 2013 @ 1:13 am

  5. […] and Shana ParkeHarrison later developed the character of “everyman” in their epic photobook “The Architect’s Brother”, likewise Griffin develops a metaphoric collective portrait of “everybusinessman”. His […]

    Pingback by Brian Griffin – Business as Usual | The PhotoBook — May 9, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

  6. Hi, Would you happen to know how many plates/chapters are in all the different editions? I have the first edition which has 52 plates and seven chapters. Subsequent editions have either eight chapters or nine chapters. Thanks!

    Comment by Susan Scott — December 26, 2013 @ 9:21 pm

    • Hi Susan, I am not aware of the changes for this book in subsequent printings. You might want to contact the publisher directly.

      Comment by Doug Stockdale — December 26, 2013 @ 11:20 pm

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