The PhotoBook

February 9, 2014

Clint Woodside – Undercover Cars

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Copyright Clint Woodside 2013 published by Deadbeat Club press (#07)

Woodside’s subject is cars found in Southern California which have some protective cover placed over them. The car cover has a dual role, protect the car from the natural elements, in Southern California that is predominately the sun, as well as being a deterrent to car thieves.

Woodside reveals a whimsical and satirical side in his documentary of the effectiveness of the car covers. He photographs covers that barely conceal a vehicle, covers that are providing an ineffective concealment, or a car that is in such a deplorable state of condition that the reader wonders why this car needs any protection whatsoever. His secondary narratives include the mystery that surrounds these concealed cars and calls into question the car culture of Southern California.

This type of stiffcover book publication is commonly referred to as a Zine, which utilizes the saddle stitch (staples) binding common of many early magazines. Interestingly, many large circulation and popular magazines today have stiff covers and due to the quantity of pages, are perfect bound (hot glue) and have an actual spine. Zines usually do not have a spine as a hardcover book might and by nature of their binding, usually lay very flat.

The book does not include pagination, captions or text.

FYI, the second image below includes Woodside’s signature which I acquired during the recent LA Art Book Fair.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

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February 8, 2014

Paul Seawright – Volunteer

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Copyright Paul Seawright 2013 published by Artist Photo Books

Paul Seawright’s earlier photographic work provides the conceptual foundation for this photobook. In his Sectarian Murder, 1988 he photographed the sites of sectarian murders around Belfast and removed reference to the victim’s religion. By depoliticizing the violence, Seawright focuses on the extensive civilian losses that occurred during this conflict. In his 2002 Afghanistan photographs, Seawright photographs artifacts that remain after a conflict again attempting to depoliticize the events that led to the violence.

In Volunteer, Seawright investigates the locations and sites adjacent to where the US military recruits. His narrative provides an examination of location of the US military recruitment centers sprinkled around the country and thus investigates the US Military recruit practices. His bleak viewpoint is focused away from the actual recruitment centers and out toward the surrounding urban landscape. It is his attempt to describe where, thus indirectly who, are the individuals that the US military is seeking to recruit.

The selected body of work depicts urban locations commonly found on the fringes of society. Many of the store fronts are vacant, structures are abandoned and the parking lots are virtually empty. This body of work is meant to be another series of depoliticizing photographs. Nevertheless these images are other than coldly objective, providing a subtle criticism of violence and war. Most of the photographic form is somber, featuring forlorn man-built landscapes predominantly captured during overcast days to create dreary feeling landscapes.

This is an image wrap hardcover book, without pagination or captions. The Introductory essay is by Seawright. The book’s binding is Smyth sewn which allows for a wonderful lay-flat read and was printed in four-color by Cassochrome in Belgium.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

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February 4, 2014

Ed Templeton – Random & Pointless

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copyright Ed Templeton 2014 published by Deadbeat Club (#19)

Ed Templeton’s recent photobook Random & Pointless is a intriguing narrative about youth,  just hanging out and experiencing life as it rolls by.

The mash-up of black & white and color street photographs appear Random, as evidenced by the inclusion of various contact sheets, as the free association of street photography is frequently practiced. This is a visceral read that may appear on the surface as being Pointless, or at least irreverent, raising questions as to the underlying context of this photobook and perhaps questions about the act of photographing.

The photographs are printed to include the surrounding negative substrate that can be read to indicate 1) the photographs are uncropped images, 2) these are two-dimensional photographic images and 3) to document that the photographs were made from film and are not digital images.

This photobook is a layered and complex read. The photobook literally becomes more intimate as the many layers unfold. The random unseen events becoming visible, asking the reader the unanswered question as to what is the point?

The book has a stiff covers with a saddle-stitch binding and a double-sided printed belly band that wraps the covers. The belly band incorporates two rows of color negatives on one side and two rows of black and white negatives on the opposite side. The color variations of the Black & White photographs in the images below do closely reflect the book’s actual print colors.  This is essentially an artist book with the inclusion of the six various hand-made folds incorporated into the book’s design.

by Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

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February 2, 2014

LA Art Book Fair – 2014

Filed under: Photo Book NEWS, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 4:41 am

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untitled (LA Art Book Fair, January 2014) copyright 2014 Douglas Stockdale

Last year I was pretty stoked when it was announced that the NY Art Book Fair would be making a Left Coast appearance. And it was pretty nice event with my only big complaint was the crappy lighting made very difficult to examine most books. And for viewing a photobook, the lighting can make a difference. Nevertheless I was pretty excited that there was a second LA Art Book Fair at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, especially as I noted a stronger attendance by photobook publishers, dealers and bookstores.

And somebody got the message, the lighting was much, much improved and I don’t recall any complaints about it compared to the uproar last year.

My hour and half drive up from Orange County paled with those who flew in from London, Paris and other parts of Europe as well as Japan and Asia. What a fantastic melting pot. In many, many ways. A lot of tables with some very small publishers covering a full range of diverse artistic subjects. It is really nice to have this opportunity in our back yard. Personally I would like to see a lot more of the contemporary photobook publishers being represented, nevertheless there were more this year than last, so if the buzzzz continues to be good, perhaps there will be even more next year.

Other personal issue is the paucity of photobook/artist stores which carry true hand-made artist books. Even Printed Matter in NYC stated that they do not carry many titles if the sales price exceeds $50.00. There are rare book dealers who make a trade in the $250 to $10,000+ books, but they do not carry new or recent artist book titles. Give me a shout-out if you are aware of some hand-made artist book sellers.

So this year I took a few more photographs while I attended the Book Fair since Lauren Henkin, who coordinates the Handmade Books by Artists group on Facebook, gave me a shout-out to report on the event. So first qualifier, I am not a photojournalist, perhaps a story teller but not a documentary photographer. That said, since a photograph is a thousand words, my visual reportage follows below. And most of my portraits documented the new fans of The Photo Book Club who were proudly wearing their new badges (at least for the moment).

Cheers!

My thanks to Clint Woodside, Kelsey Vance, Mary Virginia Swanson, Sarah Hadley, Aron Morel, Mike Slak, Harper Levine, Maura Lucking, and Alex Campox for be patient subjects.

02/02/14 postscript: Erik van der Weijde brought to my attention late last night that I missed one of the project rooms (yeah, the one he was in and I did want to meet up with him) in the labyrinth of gallery space (okay, a beef, but heck it was on their event map, so my bad). In retrospect, I did something similar last year. This is a complex space to visit. And I did not by any means look at each title on every table, this is one very, very dense book event. Admittedly I skimmed a bunch of the areas which I was having trouble connecting. It is really meant to be more than a one day visit, but it is what it is and I am very happy to have been able to spend the time I did. Already looking forward to next year!

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January 31, 2014

Hiroshi Watanabe – Veiled Observations and Reflections

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Copyright Hiroshi Watanabe 2002, self-published

This is another in my series of reviews of Limited Edition photobooks. This limited edition book and print set was self-published by Hiroshi Watanabe using early Print-on-Demand (POD) services available at that time in Japan. The title of the book coincided with his L.A. photographic exhibition of the same name held in 2002. Many of the images in the book were later submitted to Photolucida’s Critical Mass, which Watanabe garnered a book prize and the subsequent publication of Findings by Photolucida.

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Book, slipcover and print

Watanabe created two versions of the limited edition book and print set, both in an edition of 200. The POD book publisher in Japan provided a translucent poly slipcase with each book, thus enabling Watanabe to create a silver gelatin print in a matching size. He designed his print to fit within a poly sleeve, which subsequently fit into the outer translucent slipcover with the accompanying photobook. Fortunately the book was square as are Watanabe’s photographic format and prints.

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Book within the translucent slip cover

The hardcover book is actually a very nice presentation. The interior signature, along with the end papers, is bound with a sewn binding while the end papers are glued to the interior book boards to hold the covers. It is a minimalistic and clean book design that nicely complements Watanabe’s body of work. Together the book and accompanying print make for a nice presentation.

Previous Watanabe books reviewed on The PhotoBook include: Findings, Ideology in Paradise and Love Point.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

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January 27, 2014

Patrick Hogan – Still

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Copyright 2012 Patrick Hogan, self-published

Still is a splendid, intriguing photobook, which has been photographed and designed by Patrick Hogan as more of an emotional read. Perhaps similar in experience as listening to a song with a repetition of the melodies.

As the title implies, quiet and intimate moments are captured while creating a place that can best be described as ambivalence. The book has an interesting cadence and inclusion of difficult to read interior plates, at times there is the faintest hint of a photographic image and other times on the extreme of darkness, both bordering on illegibility that beguiles me. The repeating of the faint images is a symbolic read of a memory, the original subject, once clearly seen; now taking on a ghostly and incomplete presence.

An interesting mash-up of portraiture (identity), landscapes (place) and documentary style moments, which are interwoven just as events unfold.  Images and themes reoccur.  Hogan provides an intimate look at his subjects, events, places and the environment that envelops that place. I find this to be a very poetic narrative. It is a photobook that I keep returning to as I enjoy each reading; more questions with few answers.

Linen hard cover book, embossed text with a color tipped-in photograph and a numbered edition of 500 books (number 206/500 was reviewed for this commentary). Bound with a Smyth sewn & glued binding that permits a relatively lay-flat read. The introduction is provided by Colin Graham and a poem by Dermot Healy. To further underscore the introspective nature of the book, it is without captions or pagination.

Although published in 2012, this book was not widely available until the beginning of 2013, and I have included this photobook by Patrick Hogan in my interesting photobooks of 2013, and you can see my entire selection here.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

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January 23, 2014

Matej Sitar – America My Way; collector’s edition

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copyright Matej Sitar 2013 self-published by Sitar’s imprint The Angry Bat

When developing a photobook, there are always many decisions to make and one of those to consider is whether to create a limited edition photobook. Some photobooks, such as an artist photobook, are handmade in a very limited quantity. The downside to publishing only an artist photobook is that the small quantity does not allow many, if any, to be available to book reviews, bloggers and magazines. Thus a great many photographers who like the concept of a limited edition book will consider how to develop such a photobook in conjunction with the publication of their general (trade) photobook. The limited edition book may be lurking in the background while the photographer gauges the reception to the trade book or he/she may concurrently release a limited edition version on faith & trust with the trade photobook.

Matej Sitar published both a trade book for America, My Way, reviewed here, as well as a limited edition collector’s edition at the end of 2012, which I would like to discuss today.

The major changes to the collector’s edition is the linen covered solid box case (hinged clam shell with interior pocket) in lieu of the folded stiff-board cover of the trade photobook and the inclusion of an original SX-70 Polaroid print from this project.

The hinged clam shell is a classic design with a slight twist, one interior side is open and the three stiff-covered books slide into an interior pocket. The design retains the interior books while providing easy access for the reader. A really slick & well executed book design by 3ideje, d.o.o.

The SX-70 Polaroid photograph is held in place with classic corner stays, in this case made with the same linen material as those to wrap the clam shell boards. A subtle detail is that each clam shell outer cover has a laser printed image of the corresponding interior Polaroid print. The collector’s edition is limited to the number of SX-70 Polaroid prints, which is an edition of 39, while each book is virtually a 1/1 due to the uniqueness of the SX-70 Polaroid.

All in all, this makes for a very nice presentation. recommended.

The complete review of the trade edition of Sitar’s America,My Way, which includes the interior photographs, can be found here.

Sitar’s America, My Way was selected as one of my interesting photobooks for 2013 with my full selection here.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

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January 17, 2014

Brassaii – Paris Nocturne

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Copyright the estate of Brassaii, 2013 published by Thanes & Hudson Ltd London

As a photobook collector as well as a photographer, I am drawn to certain photobooks. Perhaps it’s the subject, such that photographs that investigated the built landscapes, although in this case with Brassaii’s nocturne photographs, predominantly created in the 1930’s (and the majority on glass plates no less), is an interesting combination of a well-known body of work for a couple of photobooks that I do not have in conjunction with a photographic process that bedeviled me for years, night time photography. This is not a how-to photographic book although providing technical background on Brassaii’s technique is provided sparingly. The main focus of this book is on his body of work in context with this time period of Paris in the 1930’s.

Brassaii/Brassai/ Brassaï was the pseudonym of Gyula (Julius) Halasz, a Hungarian photographer, in which he frequently signed his pseudonym name with one “i” at the end of his name, but with a two dotes on top (Brassaï), more of what we might today think of a stylistic logo. As a result, since the double dotted “i” is not a common font, his name is usually spelled out as Brassaii or sometimes truncated to Brassai. This is an investigation of the three photobooks that created Brassii’s photographic reputation, which is where my interest lay in reviewing this book.

Brassaii’s first photobook was Paris de nuit (Paris After Dark) published to grain acclaim, an instant “hit”, which was published in 1932. His second photobook Voluptes de Paris (Pleasures of Paris) published in 1935 was to receive much less acclaim and Brassaii was to later drop this book title from his resume. This book provides some insights as to why Brassaii might not have been thrilled with the second book publication. Brassaii’s third Paris photobook that placed him and his nighttime photographs firmly on the photographic map was Le Paris secret des annes 30 (The Secret Paris of the 30’s) published in 1976.

For me, this book, part biography, part photobook, is a mission accomplished to further appreciate this fascinating part of Brassaii’s oeuvre and further understand his relationship with the Paris Surrealism movement in the 30’s.

This dense hardcover book is edited as well as providing essays by Sylvie Aubenas and Quentin Bajac. The book also includes a bibliography, captions, notated references and profuse notes and appears very well researched.  I am reviewing the English edition of this title. The original first edition of Brassaii – Paris Nocturne is copyright 2012 by editions Gallimard, Paris. The book is very nicely printed and bound in Spain by T.F. Graficas as the very deep blacks of the plates provide what appears as great reproductions of Brassaii’s night time photographs. Overall, very well done.

by Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

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January 9, 2014

10 x 10 American Photobooks exhibition catalog

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copyright the various photographers & writers, 2013, Published by 10 x 10 American Photobooks & bookdummypress

Exhibition and catalog was also in association with the International Center of Photography Library, Photobook Facebook Group & Tokyo Institute of Photography

This is an exhibition catalog for a photobook exhibition that was organized by Matthew Carson, Russet Lederman & Olga Yatskevich and who edited this catalog as a part of 10 x 10 Photobook Projects.

The catalog is a compilation of essays by 17 photobook writers, features the photobooks that were included in the reading rooms at three exhibition locations as provided by 10 contemporary photobook luminaries, the on-line photobook selection by 10 American contemporary photobook luminaries (including mine, thus revealing that I might have a slight bias towards this catalog), and an insert with the American photobook selection by 10 Japanese contemporary photobook luminaries.

There are 100 photobooks included in the reading room, in which the physical book could be picked-up and read. There are 100 photobooks that were included in the virtual on-line by the American photobook bloggers as well as another 100 photobooks by the on-line Japanese photobook bloggers.

This is the second 10 x 10 Photobook projects exhibition and reading room while the previous 2012 project did not have an exhibition catalog published.

In choosing the photobooks for inclusion in the 2013 American Photobooks, we as curators were provided the following guidance; books should be made by (US) Americans, published between 1987 and the present and perhaps photobooks that have been “under the radar”.

The stiff-cover catalog has an added element with the use of three elastic bands in the symbolic colors of the American flag, red, white and blue to bind the insert booklet to the catalog. The main catalog is saddle stitched as is the smaller interior insert containing the American photobook selection by 10 Japanese contemporary photobook writers. A belly band wraps the outer book cover. The text for the entire catalog is provided in both English and Japanese. The catalog was designed by Victor Sira and Shiori Kawasaki, with the printing and binding occurring in Iceland with the Newsprint insert printed and bound in New York and designed by Tuomas Korpijaakko and Pierre Le Hors.

All in all, the 10 x 10 American Photobooks exhibition and subsequent catalog was a huge effort that resulted in an excellent series of exhibitions and I am honored to be amongst those participating.

This catalog was included in my selection of Interesting photobooks for 2013, which you can view my entire selection here. My selection of 10 x10 American Photobooks can be found here.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

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Leon Kirchlechner – Nowhere

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copyright Leon Kirchlechner 2013 published jointly by Der Grief & dienacht Publishing

Nowhere is an intriguing collection of tightly framed landscape photographs. The location(s) of these landscapes is ambiguous and undefined, thus they are of an unknown place, essentially nowhere. In a number of photographs, Kirchlechner captures a translucent object that is suspended within the frame, which appears to be a whiff of smoke or a light mist. A few of the landscapes include elements that are similar in appearance to this mysterious vapor. The source of the vapor is not defined, but interrelated to the landscape photographs of burnt vegetation, charred ruins and other burnt objects.

I am particularly drawn to Kirchlechner’s photographs containing the faint hints of smoke that are interspersed and woven with the photographs of dark and foreboding interiors or the landscapes of scattered debris. It suggests aspects of memory, being difficult to comprehend, leaving only a faint, fleeting impression while of little substance. These ambiguous images are unsettlingly; seemingly fragile with ominous and dark undertones.

Kirchlechner provides subtle tantalizing clues within the frame, but yet keeps the images ambiguous, which causes me to feel the need to look deeper and scrutinize the few details offered.

The book is an Enigma.

The case bound photobook is designed, printed and bound in a classical style, with a tipped-in image on the cloth cover. As an interesting twist, there are two title pages, with the top leaf torn in half through the text, hinting at violence as well as something that might not be complete. The book does not include any additional clues for the reader, as it is without a text, pagination or captions for the plates.

I had selected this book by Leon Kirchlechner as one of my more interesting photobooks for 2013, and you can see my entire selection here.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

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