The PhotoBook

November 28, 2016

Jacek Fota – PKiN

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Gerhard Clausing @ 5:59 am

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Ph­otographer:  Jacek Fota (Warsaw, Poland)

Publisher:  Fundacja Centrum Architektury, Warsaw, Poland 2015. Co-financed by the Capital City of Warsaw

Essays:  Introduction by Agnieszka Rasmus-Zgorzelska / Interviews by Milena Rachid Chebab

Language:  English (English edition, 430 copies); there is also a Polish edition.

Hardcover book with 112 pages, not numbered; 70 color photographs numbered and captioned in the appendix; sewn binding; cloth cover, printed and bound in Poland

Photobook Designer: Ania Nałęcka, Tapir Book Design

 

Notes:

PKiN is the abbreviation of the Polish name (Pałac Kultury i Nauki) for the Palace of Culture and Science in the country’s capital, Warsaw. This huge building containing in excess of 3200 rooms was a gift from the Soviet Union under Stalin to the people of Poland and was created between 1952 and 1955. Construction elements include some of the finest workmanship by craftsmen from Poland and the Soviet Union. This beautifully printed volume of photographs and ten pages of personal notes based on staff interviews shows an embossed replica of the so-called “frog” diagram of the ventilation system of this impressive edifice on the cover as an introduction to the myriad of details inside.

Jacek Fota’s 70 images delve behind the scenes of this magnificent structure as it exists today. In the words of Krzysiek, one of the Palace staff members interviewed, “Now there is much less going on and one can feel that the palace has been neglected.”  Fota’s distanced views evoke a sense of the range of public responses – awe, respect, and perhaps even some resentment of this overwhelming structure, with all its elements and all its history. Fota states that his goal was to document how the palace functions on the inside, “to convey the mysterious, surreal ambience” which the Palace exudes.

And sure enough, the administrators and caretakers of the palace are depicted as relatively small elements of the photographs in which they appear. The general impression of the viewer is one of distance, which enhances the mysteries of what is shown. The viewer also feels overcome by the sheer number and size of the many magnificent structural elements, as they mix with items neglected or in disrepair, mere reflections of the “glory” of former times. One can let one’s imagination take a journey, thinking of events that once gave even more luster to the structure than may be the case today. The images of this astute photographer are well composed and sequenced, and it is a pleasure to wander through the volume from beginning to end.

Gerhard Clausing

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November 24, 2016

Indie Photobook Library moves to Yale University

Filed under: Photo Book NEWS, Photo Books — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 10:13 pm

Ciociaria published by Edizioni Punctum, now in the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Just announced by the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University that the Indie Photobook Library (iPL) has been just incorporated into their collection. The collection includes more than 2,000 photobooks from around the world along with related ephemera, archives of the iPL’s history, and Larissa Leclair’s personal collection related to self-publishing. The iPL  had focused on self-published photobooks, imprints independently published and distributed, photography exhibition catalogs, print-on-demand photobooks, artists’ books, zines, photobooks printed on newsprint, limited edition photobooks, non-English language photography books, and more. This collection covers the period of indie photobooks starting in 2008 through 2016. These volumes build on an already great strength of this library and will surely be used extensively by scholars and students at Yale and beyond for a long time.

In conjunction with this change, the iPL will cease operations and no longer be accepting any more book submissions.

November 5, 2016

Alex Van Gelder – Mumbling Beauty Louise Bourgeois

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Photographer:  Alex Van Gelder (residing Paris, France)

Publisher:  Thames & Hudson, New York, NY, © 2015

Essays:  Foreword by Hans Ulrich Obrist: “Ever Louise” / Introduction by Alex Van Gelder

Text:  English

Hardcover book with 112 pages, not numbered; 81 color photographs without captions; sewn binding; cloth cover with dust jacket, printed and bound in China

Photobook Designer:  Béatrice Akar

 

Notes:

This photobook presents 81 extraordinary collaborative images taken during the last three years of life of the French-American artist Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010), who came to the US in 1938 and was primarily known for her sculptures and installations, but also for her paintings and prints. Her art received the most attention from the 1970s on, and she was also a strong fighter for artistic freedom and social justice. Alex Van Gelder, the photographer now based in Paris, became her friend and, from 2008 to 2010, was repeatedly invited to her home in New York City in order to participate in the creation of this personal yet public reality of a highly creative and spirited individual. As Van Gelder says in the foreword, “She became a consummate performer in front of the camera.”

In viewing the images, we can literally experience the joy of the artist in the process of creation, as well as the pain of aging, perhaps foremost among them her inability to move around as freely as possible, as she was paralyzed from the hip down. The photographer uses a variety of techniques to show the difficulties of both artistic creation and old age, such as distortions and long exposures with the resulting blurred appearances: self-reflection through visual ambiguity. The viewer is not only reminded of the work of John Coplans, but also of Cindy Sherman: Louise Bourgeois here assumes many roles (some with disguises) in a number of settings within her house. A very creative look at the last few years of this artist as a result; she is shown working in her studio on paintings, posing with some small sculptures, as well as in mundane settings of everyday life.

This book confronts the viewer with his or her own aging process and creativity. It is a stark yet supportive and positive, even optimistic presentation, at times with some humor as well. As the artist is shown active even at the very end, we get the idea that she is creative and hopeful in spite of it all. Since Louise Bourgeois considered much of her work autobiographical, based in part on childhood traumas, these portraits give us a glimpses of the relationships between the artist and her art, and many other dimensions to reflect on as well. The human body, with its fragile and temporary nature, was a main theme in her art, and this is certainly well represented in this visceral yet elegant collaborative photographic study.

Gerhard Clausing

 

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