The PhotoBook Journal

June 29, 2017

Alexandra Huddleston – East or West: A Walking Journey Along Shikoku’s 88 Temple Pilgrimage

Filed under: Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Gerhard Clausing @ 7:53 pm

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Photographer:  Alexandra Huddleston (born Freetown, Sierra Leone; resides Santa Fe, New Mexico)

Publisher:  Kyoudai Press, Santa Fe, NM, © 2014

Essays:  Introduction by the photographer, as well as quotes and journal entries

Text:  English

Stiff cover, perfect-bound; 48 numbered pages with 18 color images; 8 ¼ x 7 ¾ inches; printed by Oddi Printing, Iceland

Notes:

This volume is an account of the photographer’s 2010 walking pilgrimage on the Japanese island of Shikoku (the smallest of the four main islands of Japan). There are a total of 88 (!) temples on the route, dedicated to the 9th-century Buddhist saint Kūkai (Kōbō Daishi) and connected to his life experiences. Needless to say, most of the 100,000 or so pilgrims visiting each year use various modes of transportation other than their own two feet, but Alexandra Huddleston was one of the exceptions, walking the 800 miles, as a truly dedicated pilgrim should, in order to engage in such an experience in a full physical and spiritual way.

This was the second pilgrimage for the author (after Camino de Santiago), and as she states in the introduction, her stamina and understanding of the process were greater for this second major experience. She describes her process of discovering “the joy of becoming part of a community that transcends both religion and nationality.” The work includes a series of journal entries that account for some of the tribulations as well as the joys of the experience. The images exude a great deal of tranquility and serenity while constituting a modern approach to the subject; the photographic style for the most part is lyrical rather than documentary, as is fitting for an account of such a quest for the self in a supportive context. Since the images are not encumbered by captions or explanations, we can use our own imagination as we contemplate the journey. We are invited to linger here and there, contemplate or meditate, as we behold some of the ancient monuments and their contemporary environmental details and the people that are around.

A special volume that allows us to share a special experience.

Gerhard Clausing

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June 21, 2017

Julia Borissova – J.B. about men floating in the air

Filed under: Book Publications, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 4:41 pm

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

Self-published, 2015 (second edition of 300, 2017)

Essays: Julia Borissova

Text: English & Russian

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Linen hardcover with tipped in photographs, handmade sewn binding, Leporello format with one four-panel gate-fold and two three-panel gate-folds, digital lithography, printed St. Petersburg, RU

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Photobook designer: Julia Borissova

Notes: In the Greek mythology there was Icarus who upon being gifted with wings from his father and then learning to fly subsequently flew too close to the sun and perished. “J.B. about men floating in the air” was inspired by the story of two Lithuanian-American pilots who tried to set a new world record by flying over the Atlantic into Eastern Europe in the early 1930s. Regretfully like Icarus these two airmen did not reach their goal and perished in the process. Subsequently Joseph Brodsky wrote a short passage about their attempt;

…over the Baltic wave,

I buzz just like that monoplane,

like some Darius and Girenas,

though not as vulnerable.

which inspired Borissova to artistically created her own “parallel world”.

“My story is about the dream of every person to break out from the vice of all kinds of prohibitions and fly away to a distant unknown in search of unlimited freedom and find there his true motherland and real home.”

This small book is another brilliant body of poetic work by Borissova and a fascinating mashup of made, staged and found photographic materials. The unhinged Leporello book design (see the top view of the book above) allows the reader to start from either end of the book (printed on both sides of the sheet) and create multiple stories as it may seem that one side of the book with the introduction is the start of the book, but not necessarily. Sewn into the book are numerous multi-page gate-folds that reveal and conceal various aspects of Borissova’s layered narrative. A very delightful read.

Borissova reminds of us that at one time or another in our lives we probably wished that we could just fly away and leave the complicated messes of life behind and perhaps if not start anew, at least obtain a temporal breather from current events. We also need to consider the potential consequences if we were to fly to close to sun or beyond our capabilities in doing so.

Other artist books by Julia Borissova feature on The PhotoBook include: Dimitry, DOM, <address>, & Running to the Edge.

Cheers, Douglas Stockdale

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June 15, 2017

Richard Humphries – Kingdom’s Edge

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions — Tags: , — Gerhard Clausing @ 1:40 am

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Photographer:  Richard Humphries (born St. Albans, UK; resides Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

Publisher:  Richard Humphries Photography, St. Albans, Hertfordshire, UK, © 2016

Essays:  Foreword and captions by Richard Humphries; Introduction by Gerard McDermott

Text:  English

Sewn cloth-bound hardback with 200 numbered pages, 79 captioned color images and 2 maps; 25×16.5 cm; printed in Italy

Photobook Designer:  Helen Kudrich Coleman

Notes:

We are in the midst of increasingly unacceptable acts of intolerance, escalating from verbal to physical violence. Today’s event on a baseball field near the U.S. capital is just the latest example. When will they ever learn: VIOLENCE DOES NOT SOLVE PROBLEMS! And so this book is another very important example to demonstrate this point, as was the work by Paula Bronstein on Afghanistan, which I reviewed here as well.

Strife in the south of Thailand goes back many centuries, but violence has intensified in the 21st century due to clashes based on some extreme interpretations of beliefs. Gerard McDermott in the volume’s Introduction supplies an extensive account of historical developments affecting this region of Thailand, a monarchy with a military government, especially the border area between Thailand and Malaysia, a difficult region that we have heard much less about than other difficult areas around the world.

Richard Humphries has visited this area, which presents a mix of Buddhists and Muslims, Thais and Malays, over a period of eight years; he speaks the local languages, and currently lives in this area of Southeast Asia as well. A seasoned photojournalist as well as a storyteller, he has used this background very effectively. We are able to see the historical and the modern aspects of this part of Thailand, the old and the new, the various activities that sustain both livelihoods and belief systems and traditions, in both somber and light-hearted moments. Some of the images are literal and stark, some metaphorical and mysterious, and his approach suggests that all these aspects could well coexist peacefully, if only some levels of greater tolerance were part of the mix. A particularly attractive feature of this volume is the fact that both ordinary and extraordinary images are included so that we see both everyday life and the unusual side by side. The detailed captions supplied by the photographer for each image are also very helpful for the viewer’s understanding. A highly recommended volume for those interested in global strife and its cultural contexts, as well for anyone who wants to enjoy excellent photojournalism!

This volume was juried into the Photo Independent Photobook Competition and was subsequently on display at the Photobook Salon.

Gerhard Clausing

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June 6, 2017

Alice Q. Hargrave – Paradise Wavering

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Artist: Alice Q. Hargrave (born & resides Chicago, IL)

Publisher: Daylight Books (North Carolina, USA) copyright 2016

Interview: Alice Hargrave & Kendra Paitz, Essay by Allison Grant

Text: English

Hardcover with sewn binding, four-color lithography, index, printed by Ofset Yapimevi (Turkey)

Photobook designer: Ursula Damm

Notes: I have found Alice Hargrave’s photobook Paradise Wavering to be complex, layered, and very conceptual as an investigation of our global environment.  Perhaps not unlike an episode from the sci-fi television series The Twilight Zone where something is really off kilter from the on-set.

Dark ominous images are interspersed with mysterious landscape of unusual color casts and hues that create a dark undercurrent. The opening photograph is a tropical coastal landscape with looming storm clouds but the color is really strange and immediately places me on edge. Immediately following is a photograph with a darkening sky in conjunction with red and orange tinged clouds that creates mixed message of hope and gloom. As Hargrave states, this book is “a photographic stream of consciousness….exploring the fugitive nature of experience, time, light and the photographic medium itself.”

I found some of the photographic parings visually delightful while others are rather difficult to comprehend. Regretfully I found an unevenness in the flow (note: which should NOT be construed from my own sequence of the book’s interior images below) of the photographs while the theme is one that resonances with me regarding a concern for our environment. I think the book is challenging and will probably delight many readers by the complexity of the visual narrative.

Best regards, Douglas Stockdale

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