The PhotoBook Journal

July 28, 2016

Christoph Lingg – By The World Forgot – Portraits of the Indigenous Peoples of Asia

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Copyright 2014 Christoph Lingg

Photographer: Christoph Lingg (b. Schoppernau – resides Vienna, Austria)

Publisher: Editions Aufbruch (Austria)

Essays: Christoph Lingg, Diana Vinding

Text: English, Deutsch

Hardcover book with wood veneer (8 options to choose from), sewn binding, four-color lithography (black and white images), pagination and geographical chapters, Reading List, printed in Czech Republic, covers produced and bound by Lingg in Vienna.

Photobook designer: Christoph Lingg

Notes: Over the past years, Christoph Lingg has been creating black and white portraits of the Indigenous People in the broadly defined geo-region of Asia, including Pakistan, Indonesia, Mongolia, Siberia, Myanmar, India and China. This is not an attempt to be fully inclusive investigation of the cultures of Kalasha, Dani, Buriad, Nenets, Palaung, Apatani, Yao and Hani to name a few that are featured in his book.

His subjects are frequently backed with a simple white cloth and I am reminded of the earlier on-location portraits of Irving Penn. It is a technique to isolate the subject from their environment and which focuses the viewers on the individual captured in front of the lens. Interspersed are environmental portraits in which his subjects are situated in their local cultural elements to provide more context about their living conditions.

Frequently the viewer is met by a weary gaze at or a slightly off-lens look that is telling about the economic and political conditions that could be considered characteristic of Indigenous people, a cultural sub-group within a larger population. Lingg may have only been among his subjects for a short time and due to language and custom barriers, probably not sufficient time to establish or develop a really deep and open relationship. Nevertheless the portraits are powerful and well presented in this hardcover book, although the decision to print on a warm matte paper creates a lower contrast image lacking deep blacks.

Christoph Lingg’s photobook, Shut Down, was previously featured on The PhotoBook.

Cheers

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July 22, 2016

Chris Mottalini – After You Left – They Took It Apart

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Chris Mottalini – After You Left – They Took It Apart

Copyright 2013 Chris Mottalini

Photographer: Chris Mottalini (b. Buffalo, NY – resides Brooklyn, NY, USA)

Published by The Center for American Places/Columbia College Chicago Press

Essays: Allison Arieff, Charlie and Marlene Cerrito

Text: English

Hardcover book with tipped in photograph, sewn binding, four-color lithography, Notes on the Plates, printed in Singapore

Photobook designer: Center for American Places

Notes: The subtext for the book title, Demolished Paul Rudolph Homes, reveals the subject of Chris Mottalini’s investigation; various homes built by the 1950’s avant-garde architect Paul Rudolph which are documented just prior to demolition.

Mottalini uses an objective documentary style to investigate the Rudolph architecture as a design element situated within a landscape, but also a study of aging and impermanence. Rudolph’s designs were the cutting edge of the 50’s and 60’s, severe in style and now the materials of construction and infrastructure appear dated and left languishing. Mottalini focuses on the unique architectural details of these period structures, as one would construct a portrait. The wiring and technical infrastructure appear aged and in need of some care, like some wonderful beauty marks, but instead the structures are rendered absolute, ignored and essentially discarded.

The book is laid out in a clean classic design, the photographs framed by sufficient white margins and with sub-chapters dedicated to each subject. One nagging detail with the layout of this book and creating a small bit of confusion, the pages are numbered, while the plates are not, and yet the index refers to the plate numbers which are not the same as the page numbers. So with a little image counting, you can eventually figure it out.

Cheers

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July 15, 2016

Erik Schubert – How to Win Friends and Influence People

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Copyright 2013 Erik Schubert

Photographer: Erik Schubert (b. Omaha, Nebraska resides Denver, Colorado, USA)

Publisher: Lavallette (USA)

Text: English

Stiffcover book with French folds, perfect bound, four-color lithography, printed in Syracuse, NY (USA)

Photobook designer: Lavalette

Notes: The investigation of the corporate business world has continued to intrigue me for some time, having worked in the corporate environment for many, many years as my day job. It was one of the underlying reasons that I curated the photobook exhibition “Work” in Rome for Fotografia Festival Internazionale. In the case of Erik Schubert’s first photobook, he investigates this subject viscerally through his father’s experiences utilizing found and constructed artifacts.

Schubert photographs objects that have layered meanings for him, his father and the role of a professional sales person. He also investigates the personal desire to go beyond a current business role, such as develop a pyramid marketing group or an idea for a device or service that might become an avenue to financial success and wealth. The idea that you can truly develop a “better mouse trap” and benefit by it is very alluring to many entrepreneurs, but is a fleeting concept to visual capture.

He captures a strange mash-up and dispassionate view of trade shows booths and cheap trinkets that are covered with corporate logos and slogans. The environment context that surrounds these sites of enterprise are framed to appear as a place that is less than inspiring, if not outright depressing. He also includes photographs that leave me scratching my head, as I am not sure of the relevance or connection with his subject but to assume that these are unusual metaphors for some aspect related to the acts of business. In some ways, perhaps like Ed Ruscha’s earlier photobooks, the inclusion of such strange photographic images creates a strong curiosity and continued interest in this photobook.

Cheers

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July 7, 2016

Susan S. Bank – Piercing the Darkness

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Copyright 2016 Susan S. Bank

Photographer: Susan S. Bank (b. Portsmouth, NH and resides in both Philadelphia, PA & Portsmouth, NH USA)

Publisher: Brilliant Press, Exton (PA)

Essays: Susan S. Bank, John T. Hill

Text: English

Hardcover book with dust jacket, sewn binding, four-color lithography, List of Plates, printed by Brilliant Press in USA

Photobook designer: Jesse Holborn

Notes: As I had stated in an earlier review, there will be a number of photobooks forthcoming about Cuba. Nevertheless, there are a few photographers, such as Susan S. Bank, who is investigating the island, people and subsequently the culture of Cuba for an extended period.

This is Bank’s second book about Cuba and for this poignant project she is focusing on the people of Havana. She has carefully chosen to photograph her subject utilizing analog black & white with her Leica to get up close and personal. She is an urban photographer who can capture the various Havana street activities as well as someone who appears to be able to gain trust and probe inside the cultural boundaries to observe life as it unfolds. All the while Bank steers clear of the potential Cuban clichés to dive beneath the veneer and focus on capturing quiet and intimate personal moments. This is a gritty photobook that connects with me and I feel provides a real sense of who the people are that reside in Havana. Recommended.

Cheers

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July 1, 2016

Mara Dani – Almost Bari

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Copyright 2015 Mara Dani

Photographer: Mara Dani (born in Brindisi and resides in Bari, Italy)

Self-published

Essays: Gian Luigi Sylos Labini and Alessandro Crilillo

Text: Italian and English

Hardcover book with exposed boards and spine, belly band and elastic band closure, two-color offset printing with sewn binding, various papers, pagination and captions, printed by Presso Grafica & Stampa in Italy

Editor and designer: Alessandro Cirillo

Notes: This is a topological body of work, exploring one small region of Italy, which is a subject that also happens to be the city where Dani lives.

Dani’s urban landscape is a black and white photographic investigation using a documentary style of a city situated on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. She pays attention to the diverse architectural diversity found here but appears to be critical of the post-modern style, with the spaces in between appearing sterile and devoid of individuals. Likewise, perhaps due to her black and white medium, the appearance of the structures are seemingly functional but cold, gray and monotonous. I am reminded of the New Topographic’s work of Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz and Nicholas Nixon.

One of my few objections is that the tight binding does not allow the book to lay flat, but I was not going to break the binding to ensure flat surfaces to re-photograph the interior pages. Thus, no book was harmed in the writing of this review!

This body of work by Dani further exemplifies why it is not necessary to travel far to create an engaging photographic project.

Cheers

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