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Alex Forman

Alex Forman is the author of Tall, Slim & Erect: Portraits of the Presidents, and is also a photographer, literary translator, and personal historian. She is a...

Tall, Slim & Erect: Portraits of the Presidents

Alex Forman

Introduction by Ben Ehrenreich
Afterword by Patric Verrone
Cover art by Renée Petropoulos
Book 2 of 5, TrenchArt Recon Series
Prose and Visual Art | $15.00
ISBN 13: 978-1-934254-31-8
Size: 9.25″ X 4.25″
Pages: 131
Binding: Softcover, Perfect


After stumbling upon a wooden box containing a complete set of miniature wax mold figurines of US presidents at a flea market, artist Alex Forman began photographing each little man, minus their pedestals. Presented for the first time in book format, Forman’s elegant black and white portraits are accompanied by brief biographies composed entirely of appropriated texts cleverly cut and reassembled by the author. What emerges in Tall, Slim, & Erect: Portraits of the Presidents is not the tired tale of legendary men and their mythical quest for democracy, but rather, a gossip’s dream: Jefferson could not ride a horse for months due to boils on his backside; Hayes felt an unnatural and tender devotion to his sister Fanny; Wilson remained a virgin till twenty-eight. While playfully shedding light on these powerful men, their quirks, bodily functions, and stained sheets, Tall, Slim, & Erect also explores the way history is written, and the role of hearsay, conjecture, rumor, and repetition.


Praise for Tall, Slim & Erect: Portraits of the Presidents

“Legions of paid professionals try, and fail, to get underneath the gloss and myth of the presidents of the United States. Alex Forman has done it with a view camera and a cast of toy miniatures. The irony is that, through the very kitsch that represents our distance from these men, she opens the door into something truthful about the human beings who have been our presidents and about the country itself: humble and boasting; vivid and mysterious; plain and regal. Alex’s images do not sneer, or crow, or shout. She opens her eyes and looks, and you won’t be able to look away. “

— Joshua Wolf Shenk, author of Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness

“In Speak, Memory, Nabokov wrote, “There is, it would seem, in the dimensional scale of the world a kind of delicate meeting place between imagination and knowledge, a point arrived at by diminishing large things and enlarging small ones, that is intrinsically artistic.” In photographing this set of presidential figurines and rendering them life-size, Alex Forman performs both operations, making her giant miniatures reveal both the particularity of personality and the imprecision of symbols. The staging of these photographs is essential. Through Forman’s lens, not all of William Howard Taft, the fattest president, will fit in the photograph’s frame; Woodrow Wilson is in a fit of giggles; Franklin Delano Roosevelt looks ready to dash Heathcliff-like about the heath; and Nixon’s suit looks suspiciously shiny. If you’ve ever wanted to peer through the keyhole into the Oval Office, now’s your chance.”

— Matthea Harvey, author of Sad Little Breathing Machine and Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form

Tall, Slim, & Erect: Portraits of the Presidents is unique its inception, its scope, its playful yet pointed irony. Traditional history may label these men as heroes and leaders, thereby stamping their legitimacy as unquestioned and untouchable. Critics of this history may instead see these men—rightly, but reductively—as mere representatives of America’s unequal distribution of rights and money and power. Yet these photos tell an exuberantly more muddled story. The images with their accompanying text are a study in the public and personal construction of entitlement. Forman explores what attributes of public office we choose to fetishize and what qualities we must erase in order to preserve our fetish.”

— Erin Soros, author

A review by Emily Kiernan at HTMLGIANT

A review from Green Apple Books

ForeWord Reviews on Tall Slim, and Erect

Andrea Quaid’s review at Bomblog

Michael Jauchen’s review on The Rumpus