The End of the Game

The end of the 70s–The Beat; the lingering remnants of leftover hope from the 60s; the elephants–all dying out as neoliberalism and the age of globalization, already in motion, were forcibly mainlined into our collective conscience.

In retrospect, I see all that now.  At the time that I took the photographs below I never knew how bad it really was going to get—but I knew it was already getting bad.

The following photographs are of events surrounding the first one-person exhibit at the International Center of Photography in New York City. 1978’s The End of the Game by Peter Beard consisted of Beard’s photographs, elephant carcasses, burned diaries, taxidermy, African artifacts, books and personal memorabilia. In the early 60s Beard worked at Kenya’s Tsavo National Park, during which time he photographed and documented the demise of over 35,000 elephants and 5,000 Black Rhinos.

Beard was/is a controversial figure.  My work at the International Center of Photography gave me a rare insight into Beard as I spent months photographing Beard and others prior and during the exhibit’s installation and the subsequent opening.  (A statement by Beard on his outlook from the past to present taken from his webpage Peter Beard follows photos and text.)

Installation designer Marvin Israel (left) and Peter Beard in of the lobby of the International Center of Photography preparing for the exhibit The End of the Game.

Andy Warhol during The End of the Game opening

Jackie Kennedy Onassis and musician Oluntungi at Beard’s opening.  One of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ major accomplishments was her financial contribution to the arts and historic preservation—ICP was one of the recipients. 

Truman Capote (center) at Studio 54 celebrating Beard’s 40th Birthday

Actress Lauren Hutton with Beard in ICP lobby

Before the fall: Beard, Israel and Ruth Ansel. Ansel was art director for The New York Times Magazine in the 1970s.

Falling.  Ansel (lower right) retreats.

Peter stabbing his wrist to put blood on the photograph of a dying elephant

Photographer Peter Beard retrieves part of 75 foot long photographic mural of a herd of elephants storming through a desolate Africa plain that was wrapped around the outside of the International Center of Photography building in New York City.  Due to strong wind the mural was blown to smithereens onto Fifth Avenue and East 94th Street hours within hours of its installation.  The photographic mural, one of the largest ever printed, cost tens of thousands dollars.

Peter Beard:  When I first went to Kenya in August 1955, I could never have guessed what was going to happen. Kenya’s population was roughly five million, with about 100 tribes scattered throughout the endless “wild—deer—ness” – it was authentic, unspoiled, teeming with big game — so enormous it appeared inexhaustible. 

Everyone agreed it was too big to be destroyed. Now Kenya’s population of over 30 million drains the country’s limited and diminishing resources at an amazing rate: surrounding, isolating, and relentlessly pressuring the last pockets of wildlife in denatured Africa.

The beautiful play period has come to an end. Millions of years of evolutionary processes have been destroyed in the blink of an eye. 

The Pleistocene is paved over, cannibalism is swallowed up by commercialism, arrows become AK- 47s, colonialism is replaced by the power, the prestige and the corruption of the international aid industry. This is The End Of The Game over and over.

 What could possibly be next? Density and stress — aid and AIDS, deep blue computers and Nintendo robots, heart disease and cancer, liposuction and rhinoplasty, digital pets and Tamaguchi toys deliver us into the brave new world.

Orin Langelle:  I would like to thank Nejma Beard, Peter’s wife, for the kindness and cooperation she has shown me over the past several years.

All photographs are copyrighted by Langelle Photography (2013), all rights reserved. No photo can be used without the consent of Langelle Photography.  See Publishing and Acquisition Information.

Why Copyright?  One of the reasons I copyright my photographs is to track where these photos are being used in order to monitor the impact of my work and evaluate the effectiveness of Langelle Photography, a nonprofit organization.

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