— In my book Deformer (Damiani, 2008) I used ephemera saved from my youth along with photographs to illustrate my thesis about growing up in suburbia. A big part of the ephemera was letters from my Grandparents, and especially my grandfather, William, who served as my father after my dad had ran off with our 16-year-old babysitter.
One letter in particular was sent because of a caption on a photo of me in a skateboard magazine said, “Ed Templeton subliminally worships the devil” (written because of the hand gesture I was subconsciously making in the photo.) My grandparents took this 100% literally and demanded that I get a public apology from the magazine to protect my image, - or that if I had “indicated an interest in satanic worship” that I would do well to keep it out of the public light.
Not only is this generationally comedic, it’s also very touching. It showed me that even if I had become a devil-worshipper, something that to them as born-again Christians would be the pinnacle of disappointment, they would still love me.
Of course, the minute I finished Deformer this box was hand-delivered to me by my grandparents amongst all sorts of other items from their house they thought I might want. It said, “To Be Opened Only By Ed.” and was taped shut. I am 34 years old.
I present to you the content of this box:
Figure 4: A clipping from TWS skateboard magazine about my friendship with fellow pro skater Geoff Rowley that may have been the start of this whole idea that I am some sort of porn addict. The text that is circled says: Ed, in turn, attempted to organize Tuesday Night Porno Night. (This didn’t go over too well; he rented MIDGETS ON GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, and after an hour of watching midget sex, the event was killed.)
Figure 9: A tear-out of a Toy Machine ad with me skateboarding, I don’t know how this relates to pornography. Maybe the portrait of me with an angel on one shoulder saying, “Do good.” and the devil on the other one saying, “No. Evil.”
Figure 10: A clipping blown up via copy machine from the American Family Association. He circled two items from a poll related to pornography or sex on TV that are contributing to the United States’ moral decline.
I have never sent the postcard to them, and it has never come up in conversation. I can’t imagine how long he had been collecting these things, and it disturbs me a little bit that every time he sees the word ‘porno’ he thinks of me based on a few jokes found in skateboard magazines. I am more disturbed by his mass consumption of the AFA, Focus on the Family, and James Dobson. My grandfather is 90 years old. Like many things in life, this is a double edged sword, it’s sharp on both sides. The continuing love and concern for his fully grown grandson, and the delusion of a devoutly religious human being.
Ed Templeton was born in 1972 in Huntington Beach, California, where he continues to reside. The Cemetery of Reason, Templeton’s first solo museum exhibition is currently on view at the S.M.A.K. in Gent, Belgium and will travel to the Museo Dell’Arte in Nuro, Sardinia and the Ernst Museum in Budapest, Hungary. Selected group exhibitions include the International Center of Photography, New York, NY (2010); SCHUNCK Glaspaleis, Heerlen, The Netherlands (2009); ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, Denmark (2007); Pinchuk Art Center, Kyjiv, Ukraine (2007); Australian Center for Photography, Sydney, Australia (2007); Kunstalle Vienna, Vienna, Austria; Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, United Kingdom (2006); Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA (2004); Museum Het Domein, Sittard, Holland (2003). DEFORMER, Templeton’s 2008 publication, won ‘book of the year’ at the 2009 International Festival of Photography in Rome, Italy. Ed Templeton is represented by Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA.