The PhotoBook Journal

January 29, 2016

Agnieszka Rayss – American Dream

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American Dream Copyright 2011 Agnieszka Rayss

Photographer: Agnieszka Rayss (born, resides Poland)

Publisher: Foundation Photography Institute Pro Fotografia (Poland)

Essays: Agnieszka Rayss

Text: English

Hardcover book, linen cover with foil stamping, page marker, sewn binding, four-color lithography

Photobook designer: Ania Nalecka (Tapir Book Design)

Notes: When I was asked by the editor of Emaho magazine to become the “American” expert and write about contemporary American photobooks, I took this suggestion very broadly; not only American photographers but anyone who investigates the American culture and things “American”, either directly or as to what they consider to be attributes of America. It would seem that I could accomplish and a bit qualified as I was born and raised in the American Midwest (Pennsylvania, Michigan) and lived most of adult life on or near the Pacific coast (California and Arizona) and traveling throughout Western Europe, Caribbean, Central America, Asia and Canada.

I had earlier received Agnieszka Rayss’s photobook American Dream, which at first look was interesting but it did not initially take a hold of me. Nevertheless with the “American” assignment, this was one of the many books that I had immediately thought of. This is Rayss’s investigation of one of many cultural changes to a post-communist country as it adapts to a new reality of western trends of fashion, self-appearance and modeling contests. There are definite parallels of her subjects chasing the American, if not universal, dream of stardom, wealth and beauty in the hopes of finding success and a wonderful life. Rayss begins her investigation as a documentary photographer, but over time, finds herself intrigued by this lifestyle and is soon standing in front of the judges as a willing participant. Becoming a model similar to her subjects adds another dimension to her project as someone who is looking from the inside out, not as a coolly detached observer. This book is evidenced from a feminine perspective as I sense warmth, intimacy and empathy in her photographs as someone who has walked a mile in her subject’s high-heel shoes.

Best regards

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January 26, 2016

Michele Cera – Dust

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Dust Copyright 2013 Michele Cera

Photographer: Michele Cera (born Bari, resides Rome, IT)

Publisher: Kehrer Verlag (Germany)

A conversation between Michele Cera and Francesco Zanot

Text: English

Hardcover book with tipped in image, sewn binding, four-color lithography, printed in Germany

Photobook designer: Vincenzo Schiraldi

Notes: Cera’s urban landscapes provide a lonely setting for his subjects who frequently have their eyes hidden or averted from the photographer’s inquiring lens. His subjects are usually absorbed in some ambiguous task and seemingly caught mid-stride. His documentary style does not capture a decision moment, the point of when the action within the frame is at an apex, but more of the anti-decisive-moment, the more routine moment that his subjects appear to usually exists in.

Cheers

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January 23, 2016

Marcin Grabowiecki – Babie Lato

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Marcin Grabowieckibabie lato (Indian Summer) Copyright 2013

Photographer: Marcin Grabowiecki (born Gliwice, resides Warsaw, PL)

Published: Muzuem in Gliwicach with Czytelnai Sztuki (Poland)

Essay: Marcin Grabowiecki

Text: English & Polish

Stiff cover book, embossed cover, stab-sewn binding & string closure, edition of 300, four-color lithography, printed in Poland

Photobook designer: Marcin Grabowiecki

Notes: The subject of Grabowiecki’s babie lato (Indian Summer) is an investigation of his identity in the context of exploring the rites of a family summer’s vacation that has evolved over time. He is using his own family photographs culled from a span of over sixty years.

Grabowiecki states “Even though the photographs included in the book come from different periods, they are linked by a common, nostalgic mood. Regardless of the passage of time, we remember summer holidays in a similar way. Time influences the shape of our memories, and it doesn’t spare photographic materials, exposing their fleeting nature mercilessly.”

I am very intrigued by projects that look back at family photographs as visual fragments of events not possible for the author to have experienced. Photographs can become a  melancholy document that point to past events that once those subjects present in the photographs are no longer with us, can only lead us to speculate on what might have been. I find that looking at these, as might the reader, spins me back to my own family history and the unknown stories which are now forever lost.

The book production of 350 copies (300 numbered) borders on being an artist-book; part high production printing partnered with the stab binding and the use of the extended strings to function as a book closure. It has the appearance of a collection of prints, thus the form follows function creating a very nice book object. Well done and on my list of interesting photobooks in 2014.

Recommended!

Best regards

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January 15, 2016

LA Art Book Fair – coming soon to SoCal

The LA Art Book Fair will again be at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA and will be another delightful maze of rooms with amazing displays of photobook and zines. This event has always been punctuated with some wonderful finds for me.

From Printed Matter:

Printed Matter presents the fourth annual LA Art Book Fair, from February 12 through 14, 2016, at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Downtown LA. A ticketed preview will take place on Thursday, February 11, 6-9PM.

Free (another aspect of this event that I love) and open to the public, Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair is a (very) unique event for artists’ books, catalogs, monographs, periodicals, and zines presented by more than 300 presses, antiquarians, artists, and independent publishers from over 20 countries.

The LA Art Book Fair is the companion fair to the NY Art Book Fair, held every fall in New York City. Over 35,000 artists, book buyers, collectors, dealers, curators, independent publishers, and other enthusiasts attended the NY Art Book Fair in 2015.

A full list of this year’s exhibitors can be found here.

Highly recommended for those who love photobooks and zines on living (or visiting) the Left Coast.

Cheers!

January 13, 2016

Adam Voorhes – Malformed

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Malformed – Forgotten Brains of the Texas Mental Hospital Copyright 2014 Adam Voorhes 

Photographer: Adam Voorhes (born San Jose, CA, resides Austin, TX, USA)

Publisher: powerhouse Books (USA)

Essay: Alex Hannaford

Text: English

Hardcover book with dust jacket, sewn binding, four-color lithography, printed in China

Photobook designer: DJ Stout & Stu Taylor (TX)

Notes: I obtained this book due to my own fascination with memory and our attempts to preserve it. The brain is where memory both occurs and resides and memory essentially defines who we are. With physical defects of the brain resulting from issues at birth, personal choices we make, an accident or perhaps a disease or condition that had been lurking which has become fully manifest, the ability to have an effective memory in conjunction with cognitive thinking can be at risk. Interestingly, while photographing his subject, Voorhes metaphorically found that many of the his subjects had identification labels that could no longer be read, thus representing a true lost memory.  While these elegant photographs may be difficult to view, both due to the morbid nature of how the brains were obtained and the state that his subjects are in as well as the fact that being examples of deformed brains, these beautiful photographs challenge the viewer to reflect on the lives and memories that these individuals attempted to have.

Cheers

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January 10, 2016

Julia Borissova – DOM

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Copyright 2014 Julia Borissova

Artist: Julia Borissova (born Talinn, Estonia, resides St. Petersburg, RU)

Self-published artist book, signed and numbered edition of 100

Text: English & Russian

Stiffcover book with stab-sewn booklet and multiple gatefolds, naked-sewn binding, four-color lithography, printed in Russia

Photobook designer: Julia Borissova

Notes: Borissova investigates home and identity in a subtext of the Document Object Model (DOM) in this complex, layered and very creative self-published photobook. DOM is an acronym from the programming world and is a cross-platform application convention for representing and interfacing with objects using a structured and logical organization. The design of the book’s extended cover allows it to be constructed as a cube and with the full bleed printing; the results can appear like a small model of a house. Borissova has subsequently photographed this model house in a number of environmental situations which she uses for the interior gatefolds of her book. These gate folds open to reveal interior photographs and smaller pages of text by her subjects as to what constitutes a “home”. She has utilized this same model house as a planter for the interior photographs of the accompanying booklet, which as the book progresses, the plant continues to grow and soon overflow the planter.  Combining the concepts of programming organization and logic with inherent messiness of a creative investigation as to what is the meaning of “home” is brilliant. I highly recommend this book if you can still find a copy.

Other photobooks by Julia Borissova that have been featured on The PhotoBook: address & Running to the Edge.

Cheers!

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