The PhotoBook

July 18, 2010

Harvey Benge – Against Forgetting

copyright Harvey Benge 2010 courtesy the artist

Memory is a very tricky thing. Sometimes it just seems that the things that you want to forget are somehow stuck between your eyebrows regardless of what you attempt to do to forget them. Other times, there are those memories you cherish and never want to lose, and the more you attempt to hold on to them, it seems the more transit they become.  This is the subject that Havey Benge is investigating in his recent DIY photobook, Against Forgetting.

Our brains are utterly fascinating as the suck up all of our life experiences and tuck them all away in our bio-memory cells. Over time, we have trouble finding them in that big soft gray mass between our ears, but on occasion, something triggers them to shout out, we are still here! That emotion trigger can be a smell, a touch, or a sound but for a lot of us, that trigger is a photograph. This is not lost on Kodak, Fuji, Canon and Nikon to name but a few, as millions and millions in cash has been spent on the attempt to capture a precious moment for prosperity.

Benge’s photobook is a record of personal memories, very autobiographical but embodied with symbolism about memories, as well as a narrative about change, loss, grief, pain, celebration and life. When attempting to recall the past, sometime the flood waters of memory can also carry with it some debris, that memories can be delightful or saddening or both, bittersweet.

Benge utilizes a wonderful narrative device; the past is represented with black and white photographs, while the current “reality” is in glorious Technicolor. Perhaps in reality, there were only a few events photographed in color due to the additional expense and color prints had a notorious habit of fading over time. Nevertheless, it is an effective tool in Benge’s hands.

The category of bittersweet is the feeling that I take away from Benge’s photographic story. I sense the naivety of youth and enjoying the moment, not knowing about the complexities of the world. The house he lives in probably seems huge, the yard expansive and the neighborhood a delight to play in and the parents are there forever and probably taken for granted. The black and white photograph of a young couple, as if photographed from a child’s perspective, are immortalized with dark hair, easy smiles, standing tall, and timeless. They do not show the ravages of time.

We are provided with the compare and contrast of the house that Benge’s father build in the 1940’s, in the context of the surrounding neighborhood. The boxy house is blurred in the black and white photograph, as indistinct and out of focus as all of the memories that are shrouded around it. The memories are not as sharp and delineated as the original experience that occurred in the moment. Yes the photograph does capture the outline of the house, the placement of the bushes and the flow of the front walk. But hazy and indistinct, similar to the blurry photograph of the house, are the faded memories of the sounds and noises, the smell of the air, the feel of the breeze or heat and humidity.

A photograph is a two-dimensional object, but we hope that this object triggers all of the other tactile memories as well.

By Douglas Stockdale

July 17, 2010

Gauthier Sibillat – Strasbourg, Fin de Ville, Paysages Ordinaires

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Doug Stockdale @ 6:24 pm

Copyright Gautheir Sibillat, courtesy Poursuite Editions

In its earliest conception, a book was an assembly of sheets, usually in a packet, folder or other device that could hold them together. Subsequently the practice of publishing a book was to bind the sheets together to improve storage conditions, maintain an orderly progression of the pages and provide coherence. A year ago, Lay Flat’s first book harkened back to the days of loose individual sheets which were assembled together and now likewise the photobook of Gauthier Sibillat, Strasbourg, Fin de Ville, Paysages Ordinaries (Strasbourg, End of the City, Ordinary Landscapes) is individual sheets gathered within a poly sleeve.

In his photobook, I am not sure if Sibillat appears to be investigating what constitutes the “end of a city” or a providing a subtle criticism of the endless growth of cities. I think that I can argue both which adds an interesting complexity to his twelve color landscape photographs.

The end of a city perhaps can be a boundary, between what is the city and what is not, artificial such as a fence, wall, road or naturally occurring such as a river, ocean, or mountain side. Many times the boundary is very artificial, a line drawn on a map of which some coordinates have been established. When the boundaries are artificial, the city boundary may be difficult to identify, perhaps gradually the spacing between buildings and structure gradually widening until and while walking I might suddenly realize, I must not be in the city any longer. In Southern California where I live, I can move from one city into another without realizing that I have made the transition, as the suburban cities are mashed up against each other in one continuous flow of streets, houses and roads, almost without end. There are few if any naturally occurring boundaries that would delineate a city where I live.

Likewise, it is difficult to observe what could be Strasbourg’s “boundaries” in Sibillat’s photographs. He uses a documentary style to photograph structures situated in a mix of urban and rural location that are in vary states of development. As if the end of the city seems to be slowly moving and expanding based on some perceived needs or someone’s economic interests. He appears to be investigating the slow expansion of a city’s boundary as defined by the location of these new structures and that the new structures are now pushing the city’s edge.

There is a stylistic design element that is consistent within Sibillat’s photographs. Each of the photographs has a detailed foreground of earthly terrain, with structures occupying the middle ground and above all filling in the top of the frame is the sky.

The earthen foreground is the raw land in various states of development. In one photograph, wild weeds and a barren tree seem to be waiting for the bulldozers blade, with a new structure sitting ominously in the middle ground foretelling of the pending urban development. In one photograph the ground has been completely covered with concrete, symbolizing an attempt to keep the earth subservient to mankind’s needs and control. In many of Sibillat’s photographs the details of the earthy foreground predominate over the structures in the middle ground, which are photographed in a manner to make the structures appear smaller, as to reduce the structures importance as compared to the terrain.

The middle ground of Sibillat’s photographs is occupied by either a building, house or looming structures that are in a state of flux between just complete or in the various stages of development. The structures seem to be imbued with a feeling of pathos, they do not appear to be enlightening, upbeat or happy places. The structures denote the presence of mankind, but there are not any people included within the photographs. Hence the photographs leave me with a feeling that there is no life in these sterile places. These landscape scenes are serene but appear lonely and sad.

Finally there is the sky, either blue and clear, clouded and overcast or obscured by an almost tangible dense fog. Mankind’s structures attempt to dominate the earth, but the sky prevails above all, symbolizing that mankind might be attempted to dominate nature, but in the end, nature will prevail.

The loose prints allow you to curate the book and determine which sequence that they will be experienced, or individually framed or with a little handiwork, complied into a post card format to be shared with someone who is at a distance.

The photographs are lithographic printed card stock, varnished, captions on the reverse, assembled in a printed poly sleeve, accompanied by an index card printed with the introduction in French by Sibillat printed on the opposite side. An English excerpt from the introduction is provided by on a separate sheet.

by Douglas Stockdale

July 13, 2010

FotoBuch Festival – Catalogs

Filed under: Book Publications, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Doug Stockdale @ 5:27 pm

Copyright FotoBuch Festival and photographers

Earlier I had written about the 3rd International FotoBuch Festival in Kassel, Germany and I have subsequently acquired the three catalogs for the three annual events.

The photobooks that are highlighted in each year’s catalog were nominated by prominent international (photography) professionals and shown in an exhibition. The books are presented in the catalog, including their cover images and selected content pages, as well as bibliographical details and personal statements by the expert who nominated it. The personal statements are not by any means an in-depth essay, but more of a very brief note on why the book was of interest to them.

What I noted was that the first year was a heavy pan-European jury of experts, with a broader International range of experts the second year, and subsequently an even broader International group this last year. From the 2009-2010 catalog, my surprise find was Stanley Greene’s Black Passport (first page spread below) which was nominated by JH Engstrom, Gosta Flemming, and Guy Tillim. Black Passport was not even on my radar for 2009. It was nice to acquire a little more information about Shannon Ebner’s The Sun as Error (second page spread, below), which has two nominations, by Lesley Martin and David CampanyJim Goldberg’s Open See was nominated by Philip Block, which I reviewed and can found here. Interestingly, Robert Adams received nominations for two different titles, what could probably be classified as reprints, What we Bought (1970 – 1974), and Summer Nights, Walking (1976  – 1982), with the Summer Nights, Walking already on my short list to acquire, probably more so now.

Perhaps likewise you might find your self with similar surprises and interests. Not sure how long these will be available, as they did limit the production to 1,000 each.

All three catalogs share the same design layout, excellent printing, simple sewn sitch binding and these make a smart set.

July 11, 2010

Marc Feustel – a conversation

Filed under: Photo Books — Doug Stockdale @ 3:59 pm

Marc Feustel, copyright Douglas Stockdale 2010

This is the second in my series of my conversations with PhotoBook enthusiast during my lay-over in Paris. Marc Feustel is a very interesting guy and a delightful conversationist, and I highly recommend his thoughtful reviews of photobooks that are available on his blog, Eye Curious.

Although my intent was to obtain his insight on Kiyoshi Suzuki’s Soul and Soul, a photobook review that I having a little trouble finishing, our discussion went far and wide about the Japanese photographers who preceded the Provoke period as well as what is happening with photobooks in Japan since. It is Feustel’s interest and speciality in Japanese photographers and their photobooks which really ignited my interest in having this meeting. And Marc did provide just the insights that I had hoped to hear, as he advised to look for the symbolic power of the detail and notice the focus on texture and the use of space.

That then led to discussions about the influence of William Kline and Robert Frank on Japanese photographers and subsequently to the early work of Eikoh Hosoe, Daido Moriyama and Takuma Nakahira. Marc’s lament was the lack of distribution of Japanese photobooks outside of Japan. At best, both in Europe and US, we only see the tip of the iceberg of the large diversity and volume of photobooks that are published each year in Japan.

Marc and I had hoped to visit and go exploring in a couple of photo galleries and book stores that were on this side of the Seine. Regretfully, all were closed for the day (Sunday), but at least I now have some coordinates to find them on my next visit.

Here is a short list of photobook places in Paris for your future consideration (a couple from my conversation with Mathieu Lambert yesterday); Galerie Yvon Lambert, LazyDog, le Monte en L’Ain (entrance photo, below), Plac ‘Art Photo, and Comptoir de l ‘Image. Comptoir is in the general area that Eugene Aget photographed and Marc stated that some of the same ornaments that Aget photographed are still present.

It was a beautiful Paris afternoon to walk, talk, enjoy a coffee and then walk and talk some more. It was too bad that my feet were not accustomed to the higher humidity and I developed blisters from the extended walking in my sandals. I just required a pint of therapeutic beer to make things right again and gingerly walk back to my hotel.

Best regards, Douglas

July 10, 2010

Mathieu Lambert – a conversation

Filed under: Photo Book Discussions — Doug Stockdale @ 8:07 pm

Mathieu Lambert, copyright Douglas Stockdale 2010

I had a nice opportunity to discuss photobooks, personal projects and life with Mathieu Lambert this afternoon. The light Paris rain did drive us indoors for a couple of hours, but that was fine as we quickly found a nice bottle of Pinot Noir. Afterwards we moved out to the nice cushions along the boulevard to enjoy the early evening.

The occasion was to discuss Lambert’s recent DIY photobook Fake Tales of America, which he published with the small photographic co-0p french fourch that he is a member of. It is not usually my practice to discuss a photobook with a photographer until I have prepared my review. That just happens to be my process, as I want to be able to extract my direct impressions versus reacting to a photographers stated intent. But then again, I am not frequently in Paris and it allowed me to take the opportunity to investigate DIY photobooks from an European perspective. And drink some nice French wine on a warm and balmy day, very nice.

My take-away is that DIY in Europe does not seem much different from elsewhere and that we have a very global photographic self-publishing community. Lambert did make a comment about printing his photobook project that did underline one salient point; the ability to have an interaction between photographer and printer. As he was tweaking his design and layout, he needed to perform some printing trials on the printing equipment before he wanted to commit his finances to the small print run.

And now I shall continue reading and enjoying Lambert’s photobook with my review to be published later this month. Merci Mathieu!

Best regards, Douglas

Dayanita Singh – Dream Villa

Copyright Dayanita Singh 2010 courtesy Steidl

Reading Dayanita Singh’s recent photobook Dream Villa is a wonderful exclamation point on why I enjoy my own night photography; the process can evoke from an otherwise seemingly ordinary landscape a very mysterious narrative. Similar to when the extended durations of photographic exposures can alter the plastic reality of time, the reality of color and space can be altered during night photography.

The light after sunset is a mix of natural and artificial illumination. The source of the artificial light, such as incandescent, neon or quartz can introduce new color elements that are not easily perceived but can be creatively exploited. Natural illumination is usually provided by the moon’s reflection, which can be clear and bright, or cloaked by clouds and haze. The edges of perceivable space at night are defined by this available light.

Night photography is not a new concept, but in Singh’s hands, the altered realities of the night found in unusual colored shapes, surfaces and space is an opportunity for exploration and investigation.  In her photographs objects and ghostly individuals loom out of the dense shadows, while these dark shadows conceal information that might otherwise help decipher the mysterious story at hand. Her nighttime photographs shrink the world into a place defined by smaller visual boundaries, which creates a humanized and seemly intimate space.

Serendipity seems to play a large part in Singh’s investigative process, such as finding the words Dream Villa on the doors of an estate that help establish this book’s intent. Likewise, the eerie urban landscape surrounding these doors appears to be in a state of disrepair and disorder, hinting of a darker reality and that life may not be always going as well as intended.

The night is also a period of sleep, rest and rejuvenation, and a period during which dreams can occur, a world of potential fantasies or nightmares. The world of dreams appears to be part of the subconscious experience that Singh is attempting to tap into. Meanings can change and things may not be what they might appear to be, allowing interpretation and analysis and a new dialog to occur. She has created a nocturnal narrative, mysterious, delightful, and playful, and yet still with an undercurrent that is threatening and scary.

All supportive text is lacking, with neither captions nor essays to provide a background context. Singh’s story is entirely composed in her photographic images. The narrative crafted by Singh unfolds in a seemingly random pace, a series of photographs that ask you to assign your own meanings and subsequently create your own story, which makes this as much your story as it is Singh’s. Such that with each new reading of this photobook, I find another new layer of potential meaning. Delightful.

The book is designed so that the individual square photographs of Singh completely fill the two page spread, with the images printed full bleed. The tight binding of this photobook does not permit a lay-flat viewing, thus some content of the photographs which span the two page spread is lost in the central gutter. Normally this double page printing and binding drives me absolutely crazy, as I also wonder if part of the photographer’s intent is lost to the reader when concealed in this central region.

Because of the curious nature of Singh’s narrative, this time the loss of the photographic image in the gutter does not create as much angst. What might be lost in the gutter is as mysterious as the photographs themselves, adding yet again another layer of mystery. The additional manual effort to open this book to peer at this portion of Singh’s photographs seems symbolic of the effort required to interpret her complex visual story.

by Douglas Stockdale

June 25, 2010

Gina LeVay – Sandhogs

Copyright Gina LeVay 2009 courtesy powerHouse Books

You could say that Gina LeVay had to “get down and dirty” to photograph the miners who create the underground tunnels for New York City. This is a mash-up of those who are involved in the tunneling, affectionately called Sandhogs, and the environmental context of where their efforts take place. Also apparent as I study these photographs is that the construction of these underground labyrinths is also a dangerous place to work, least photograph.

 LeVay has captured the intense features of the Sandhogs in the midst of work, a series of environmental portraits, of men toiling at remove rock and debris, who are burrowing, digging, cutting, and blowing apart the bedrock. She also finds them in pensive moments during a break in the action, or at the end of a hard day of labor; dirty, grimy, probably very smelly and need of a long hot shower. The pride in their work and who they are is evident in their facial expressions, especially their intense eyes, direct and unflinching contact with her lens, as well as their posture and stance.

 LeVay’s documentary style photographs are similar in nature to Bernd and Hilla Becher’s industrial “anonyamous sculptures”, but in her case she is working the negative space created by the urban miners, a reverse sculpture, defined by what is removed and not by what was added.

 Her wonderful chiaroscuro lighting, created by taking advantage of the industrial illumination, is dramatic, with intense and saturated colors. The bold contrast that this lighting creates provides a sense of volume and depth to these photographs, as well as mystery and intrigue. The dark shadows hint of the ever-present danger of the mining working conditions, dangerous enough to have led to the death of twenty-four Sandhogs on this tunneling project.

 Due to the low light, frequently the figures are blurred due to the longer duration, while sometime the entire photograph is blurred due to hand holding of the camera. The resulting effect provides me with a visual equivalence to the underground vibration and noise created by the heavy construction and what it might be like to be in her mucking boots.

 Bonnie Yochelson in her assay adds “She began to refine her vision, capturing the phantasmagoric quality of the vast, glistening, stream-filled, rocky cavern littered with machinery. She often portrayed the sandhogs silhouetted against this dreamscape.”

 LeVay provides a fascinating and intricate industrial maze of man, machinery, equipment and fixtures. The fitting inside back cover photograph is of an 800 foot supply shaft to the tunnels, of which LeVay is literally capturing the light at the end of the tunnel as well as symbolic of hope, faith and potential redemption.

 This photobook includes quotations by the Sandhogs and all of the photographs are captioned at the conclusion of the book. The images are frequently full page bleeds, some spanning the book spread, with the binding not restricting any of the images. Pages of a Sandhog portrait are butted up to the environment landscape providing a surreal juxtaposition that is documentary in style The Foreword essay is by Thomas Kelly, a former Sandhog and author, with an Introductory essay by Bonnie Yochelson. The hardcover is paper on boards with perforations (a nice simulation of miner’s bore holes), which appears very durable but in fact is fragile, as the corners easily fray.

by Douglas Stockdale

June 24, 2010

2008 Critical Mass winner’s books published

Filed under: Book Publications, Photo Book NEWS, Photo Books — Doug Stockdale @ 4:38 am

Photolucida 2008 Critical Mass winners – published 2009

From the nice folks at Photolucida: Andy Freeberg’s Guardians, Céline Clanet’s Máze and Priya Kambli’s Color Falls Down…three rich visual perspectives from an American photographer in Russia, a French photographer in Lapland, and an American photographer with roots in India. All three gorgeous books, sure to make their mark in the photo book world!

Andy Freeberg – Guardians

 

 Clifford J. Levy, New York Times Moscow Bureau Chief, review:

The “Guardians” are former economists and dentists, engineers and singers, teachers and clerks — a corps of grandmothers perched on chairs throughout Russia’s finest museums, forming a kind of latter-day addition to artistic landscape. They are the guardians of the country’s masterpieces, but also of much more. This series of photographs reflects the singular role that these women play in both the Russian art world and society as a whole. These women occupy a significant place in Russia, purveyors of wisdom and keepers of cultural traditions. Grandmothers in some sense rule not only the museums, but also the streets.

One woman described how even on her day off, she comes to the museum to sit by a painting because it reminds her of the countryside during her childhood in Ukraine. “I’ve been working here for 10 years and it feels like one day, I love it so much,” she said.

The photographs that Freeberg took at four museums in Russia — the Hermitage and Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, and the Tretyakov and Pushkin in Moscow — present a humanizing contrast. These guardians are not only visible, but exert a powerful hold over the viewer, in some sense helping to bring the art to life.

Hardbound, 64 pages, 37 photographs, cloth/embossed image on cover, text in English and Russian

Céline Clanet  –  Máze

review by Awen Jones, Curator/Writer:

The subject and outline of the pictures in the book concentrate on the Sámi people. They spread out over an immense area, from the extreme north-west of Scandinavia as far as the Kola peninsula, in Russia. These people survived for thousands of years in extreme climatic conditions. Their existence is often precarious, as they have lived through periods of colonization, and the gradual erosion of their culture. The “Máze” series of photographs touch upon the environmental, political and economic aspects of the Sámi, but the pictures are also concerned with vital contemporary issues such as IT globalization, the preservation of individual identity, as well as broader issues.

The pictures of Céline Clanet seem to share a documentary vision and a conceptual approach. This juxtaposition translates into one of her main concerns: the importance of time present. For her, life consists of a succession of moments set firmly in the present, not events which occur or have occurred after a lapse of time, highlighted by some seminal event…she shows that action and contemplation, daydream and objective observation are all one, and go together as an integral part of life. They can also, thankfully, generate sensations of wonderful serenity despite a sometimes hostile background.

Hardbound, 80 pages, 52 photographs

 

Priya Kambli  –  Color Falls Down

Review by George Slade, Independent Curator:

Priya Kambli’s works introduce us to an unfamiliar language. These elegant statements force us to pause, to learn and utilize at least one new mode of translation. The reading requires effort; there are several distances to cross to unveil their full meanings. She applies her translation skills to images that derive meaning from cultural, inter-generational, and trans-global sources. She is making viewers — not from her family, not Indian, not first-generation immigrant — confront a set of symbols and relationships that do not fully reveal themselves on first encounter. The success of her work, however, lies in its eloquent capacity for fascination. It employs many devices; pattern, texture, screens, color, and mysterious deletions and exclusions weave a tale of vulnerability, transience, inheritance, and transformation. And the photograph as an evanescent container of memory has a vital role.

Kambli discovers her heritage in herself and her surroundings, employing a photographic strategy of longing as a means of translation. Her longing is both retrospective and anticipatory — longing for a future in which the past makes sense, in which a fragmented sense of self is made whole.

Softbound, 64 pages, 32 photographs

best regards, Douglas

June 23, 2010

OPEN CALL: Zine and Self-Published Photo Book Fair

Filed under: Photo Book NEWS, Photo Books — Doug Stockdale @ 4:20 am

Just in:

Open Call for Entries: Zine and Self-Published Photo Book Fair

     
     

Within the past decade, zines and self-published books have established a significant presence in the contemporary art world, with many artists and independent publishers primarily focused on this medium.

The Camera Club of New York’s Conversations Series will present a Zine and Self-Published Photo Book Fair on Saturday, July 31st from 1-6pm in its gallery space at 336 West 37th Street, Suite 206, (between 8th and 9th Aves) in New York City.

Artists are invited to submit up to 4 different books and zines (limited to 3 copies of each). The public will be invited to come, browse, purchase, and meet the burgeoning zine and self-published world. Submit your book or zine and be a part of the conversation.

To submit your zine or self-published book please mail or drop off your book during our gallery hours Monday-Saturday, 12-6pm:
The Camera Club of New York
The Arts Building
Attn: Zine Fair
336 West 37th Street, Suite 206
New York, NY 10018-4212

Make sure to include:
•Your Name
•Title of your book/zine
•Edition (if any)
•Price of book (if selling)
•A Self-Addressed and Stamped envelope

•••If you do not include a self-addressed and stamped envelope for the return of your materials, your zine or books and any money received for any or all sales will be donated to The Camera Club of New York.

The postmarked deadline for submission is July 23rd, 2010.

If you have any questions please contact curator Lindsey Castillo at lindseycastillo@gmail.com

CCNY is celebrating over 125 years serving the photographic and art community through this and upcoming exhibitions, lectures, and special events. For more information, contact John Stanley at info@cameraclubny.org or by phone at 212-260-9927.

Please visit us at www.cameraclubny.org

best regards, Douglas

June 21, 2010

Susan Anderson – High Glitz

Copyright Suan Anderson 2009, courtesy powerHouse books

Susan Anderson’s photobook High Glitz, The Extravagant World of Child Beauty Pageants is a series of formal portraits of young girls who participate in beauty pageants that have been exclusively tailored for them. These pageants are unique to the United States. Anderson chooses to focus her lens on the resulting “confectionary” effects rather than a broader investigation of this mini-industry. She has also chosen to exclude the young boys who also compete, but have a minor presence in these pageants.

 In the introduction, Anderson describes her photographic process; “I have set up some parameters for myself when shooting portraits at these pageants. Rule number one is never to direct the girls other than making minor adjustments of their chosen pose. Frequently I ask to see the back of a dress, or a hairstyle in profile. I make sure they catch the key light just right, or may ask them to adjust a hand, or tit a chin, but never give a type of creative direction that could be constructed as manipulative. My job is to record what I see. The subjects have a self-awareness beyond their years, and have been coached and trained for moments like this one, in front of the camera.”

Anderson’s portraits have a broader selection of poses than Martin Schoeller’s Female Bodybuilders, but they have a shared commonality of formally documenting an American sub-culture. These pageants have involved into an economic mini-industry of consultants, coaches, couture designers, hair dressers and stylists. Of course at the very heart of this are the young girls, the pageant contestants, and unseen but with their indirect presence felt, the parents and grandparents of the girls. Similar to Schoeller’s bodybuilders, Anderson is documenting a controversial subject without introducing any judgments.

 At the risk of being flamed for not being PC, I think that this is a Chick-photobook. There are some underlying feminist issues subtly at play that may be better understood by women than men. Why is it acceptable that young boys can act out some very aggressive behavior while there seems to be a controversial issue for young girls playing out their young feminine fantasies? The questions regarding the pros and cons of child pageants are succinctly discussed in Robert Greene’s introduction Artifice and Transformation: The Imaginary Lives of Little Girls. I recommend reading Green’s essay before jumping to any conclusions regarding the relevance of these child pageants.

 The book is segmented into formal portraits by the pageant even categories; Beauty/Formal Wear, Modeling, Western Wear/Pro-Am and Crowning. The book concludes with a delightful High Glitz Style Guide, providing essential pointers for those who do not have a clue to the pageant requirements. Provides some of those important rules, such as when “bling” is permitted or not, and the correct time to use the “oohs and aahs” or incorporate a “rip off”. There are pointers on the use of flippers (teeth), hairstyles that include the Barbie, Up-do, Falls, Ringlets, Swept Up, and Add-ons which include wiglets, wigs, falls & braids. The girls need to be aware of when they might want to incorporate a “full southern” as apposed to a basic “cupcake”. It is apparent that like any subculture, the pageants have their own internal jargon, but that jargon is not directly communicated by Anderson’s photographs.

 One excerpt from Anderson;

 “Sunday’s main event is Beauty/Formal Wear, my favorite aspect of these pageants, and what I feel epitomizes the visual aesthetic of High Glitz. For this part of the pageant, the girls, primarily between the ages of two and ten, don their most elaborated couture costumes, hair and makeup. The custom outfits are encrusted with rhinestones, pearls, ribbons and bows. From their white-satin Mary Jane shoes and lace-trimmed anklets to their spectacular costumes and towering bejeweled hairstyles, the effect is confectionary.”

 Simon Doonan’s introduction “In Defense of Child Beauty Pageants” written by a man who wishes he had these same pageant opportunities is really funny, with the following except to provide a hint, because you have to read it in the entirely: “If only somebody in our house were to have figured out that all I ever wanted was to parade about – like Madame Alexander doll come to life- in front of a cheering crowd, bathed in adoration and soft pink light.”

Regretfully for me, what is also present in these photographs, beyond the shiny and frilly surfaces, are the manufactured and coached smiles on these precious young girls, which hints at an honest attempt to please, but I wonder at what cost?

by Douglas Stockdale

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