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It’s the break-up that just keeps going.
Last week, I wrote about Doug Sanford’s photographs at the Fraser Gallery in Bethesda. The photographs, which were on display until last Saturday, depict e-mails Sanford received from an ex-girlfriend after he admitted infidelity.
This week, the angry ex came forward with a letter to the editor and a few more fighting words. See below:
I’m the elusive angry ex whose words are on display. What a saga this has turned into!
I want to thank you for attempting to locate me and for writing the only balanced article about this whole thing. I see that Ms. Fraser is using this all as a publicity stunt, so if it’s come to that I’d like to at least get my two cents in.
I’d like to start by saying that after this whole thing began and I wrote e-mails addressing legality to Ms. Fraser, she prominently displayed those e-mails in the gallery along with my full name and e-mail address. This can be confirmed by anyone who attended the opening, or feel free to ask Ms. Fraser herself. So any attempt to “protect my anonymity” is in fact a blatant lie.
I don’t want money and I don’t want a lawsuit. I’m aware that I have no case. I want those pictures down. Or, if my words are going to be exploited, I’d like a voice. Enough people know who I am that I’ve received e-mail after e-mail telling me that I’m being publicly humiliated. Mr. Sanford chose my most simplistic words so that a small newspaper in Falls Church has called the “ex-girlfriend” “single-minded” and “blind.”
Mr. Sanford is wrong, I am not attached to those words. If anything, I’m ashamed of having even consorted with him after the break-up. Those photographs are a cruel betrayal on top of the myriad of betrayals Doug Sanford committed against me. Without getting into details, rest assured, every word in those e-mails was deserved. You can’t begin to imagine what this man has put me through, and now the trainwreck is all on a public stage. I just pray that it doesn’t escalate beyond this letter.
The fact that people are considering this art is laughable. A friend put it perfectly when he said that it’s all very “thinly philosophized.” The word “universal” is the biggest no-no in any field, from photography to women’s studies, yet it has continued to impress people. If a 25 year old kid walked into a gallery and had the same project idea, people would find it childish, vindictive and silly. But because Mr. Sanford is relatively established, charismatic, 42 (he is, by the way, twice my age), and can use words like “universality of collective experience” people fawn.
The whole experience has been a terrible reflection on the gallery. I just hope that people see through it before these sadistic people profit off of my pain.
Gallery owner Catriona Fraser responds: “Her e-mails were not exhibited or displayed at the gallery at any time.…I only had her e-mails to me in my folder. I’ve never seen her e-mails to Doug.…If anything, I did not want to bring her into this.”
Sanford did not return a call for comment.
UPDATE, 2/9: Fraser points out that neither she nor anyone associated with the Fraser Gallery contacted me about this story. She denies that Bondy’s claims that the article was part of a “publicity stunt” to promote the gallery.