The PhotoBook Journal

December 6, 2018

Ekaterina Vasilyeva – Shipwrecked

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Ekaterina VasilyevaShipwrecked, Copyright 2018

Artist; Ekaterina Vasilyeva (Екатерина Васильева)(born and residing in St. Petersburg, Russia)

Self-published, St Petersburg, Russia

Afterword: Ekaterina Vasilyeva

Text: English

Stiff cover front with original archive photograph (First #1-30 book covers), board back-cover book, twine sewn binding, four-color lithography, Limited edition, hand-made, signed & numbered, of 50, size: 12 cm x 33 cm, printed in St. Petersburg, RU

Photobook designer: Ekaterina Vasilyeva

Notes: This extremely wide (13 inch) book with the rough twine binding hints at the subject of Ekaterina Vasilyeva’s artist book; a mash of mid-century black and white photographs by an unknown young Sea Scout in conjunction with Vasilyeva’s reinterpretation of a similar current landscape in color. Likewise, her book title, Shipwrecked,provides additional clues to this boat-load of images that were once a drift and now found. The vernacular photographs of the 1940’s and 1950’s are literally intertwined with Vasilyeva’s color landscapes.

This is a wonderful treatise about the bittersweet aspect of nostalgia, the double-edge sword of memory. This forgotten album is filled with images of playful youth; boys who are seemingly unencumbered by the realities of life, although we know that in the early 1940’s there was a terrible war occurring that had a huge impact on the UK. Nevertheless, we observe these photographs knowing that their age of youth has now long passed and the subjects of this archive are perhaps more concerned with their pending mortality.

Who was this young unknown photographer, whose images reveal a certain maturity in these carefully balanced compositions? Perhaps this found British archive is not elevated to the level of photographs by Vivian Maier, nevertheless under the careful editing of Vasilyeva, we can sense this young photographer’s developing photographic skills.

Likewise, I come to wonder how this photographic archive came to rest at a British flea-market; what has happened to this now aging Sea Scout that he was willing to part ways with his past? Why does he or his family no longer have a need to retain this wonderful archive of memories? This book is a collection of mysteries; is the portrait of a young lady a family member of the unknown photographer or perhaps his lover in later years and maybe eventually his spouse? There are clues to this mysterious photographer, such as the school badges on the coats of the young men mugging for this photographer, as to where these events may have occurred so many years ago.

Vasilyeva’s contemporary landscape photographs ground us to the current reality and in juxtaposition with the archive images creates a messy give and take dialog with the past. The vexing and unanswerable question remains; Will you Forget Us? What of this group of boys, who are now aging men who may be grandfathers if not great grandfathers, what has become their fate and stories since their young likenesses was permanently captured?

I find a book design’s that echoes the artistic intent to really amplify the narrative; in this case the rough twine binding is similar in nature to what one might expect a young Sea Scout in the early 1940’s to use if he were to create his photobook. We observe similar hand-made contraptions such as the float lashed together using old oil cans that are utilized for a sea and river adventures. This is a British equivalent to Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a story of American youth, which was actually first published in the UK in 1884 before coming to the US in 1885. In reflection, perhaps Huckleberry Finn was an inspiration for Robert Baden- Powell, the founder of Scouting, who in turn inspired the unknown Sea Scout whose delightful photographs we enjoy here.

A very enjoyable read.

Cheers, Doug

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November 29, 2018

Interesting Artist and Photographic Books for 2018

As in years past TPBJ has been providing a short list of artistbooks and photobooks we have found to be very Interesting. These are books that we continue to return to in order to enjoy again. Our selection derives from books with intriguing photographic content, brilliant project concepts, excellent book designs that support the artist/photographer’s intent in conjunction with spot-on production qualities; and the books that are the most Interesting have a delightful combination of all of these creative, if not critical, elements.

For our editorial team’s selection we have limited ourselves to the artistbooks and photobooks that we received with time to really evaluate the book object in its entirety. I have readily admitted in the past we do not have access to every photobook that was published during the year, thus our list is not meant to be in any way inclusive. Our list is also not meant be the “Best” photobooks of 2018, but rather we have selected some of our more Interesting photobooks that might warrant your consideration and time.

Our list includes; Laia Abril, Julia Borissova, Simon Brugner, Seiichi Furuya, Tobias Kruse, Melissa Lazuka, Yehlin Lee, David Lynch, Ute & Werner Mahler, Nuno Moreira, Colin Pantall & Zheng Ziyu (Editors) & Antonio Perez Rio.

Some artist and photographers are list repeats and others have published their First book. One of these books is massive in breath, scale and size and some are petite poetic treasures. This list represents a truly internationals group of artists, photographers, designers, printers and publishers; Congratulations to all!

We have published commentaries for most of these books, which are linked-up below. It is our intent to finish publishing reviews for all of these artistbooks and photobooks shortly. We hope you enjoy these as much as we have.

In alphabetic order by last name:

 

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Laia Abril, On Abortion

 

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Julia Borissova, Let Me Fall Again

 

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Simon Brugner, The Arsenic Eaters

 

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Seiichi Furuya, Warum Dresden (Why Dresden) (review pending)

 

Tobias Kruse, Material (review pending)

 

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Melissa Lazuka, Song of the Cicadas

 

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Yehlin Lee, Raw Soul

 

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David Lynch, Nudes

 

Ute and Werner Mahler, Kleinstadt (review pending)

 

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Nuno Moreira, She Looks Into Me

 

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Colin Pantall and Zheng Ziyu (Editors), Magnum China

 

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Antonio Perez Rio, Masterpieces – Obras Maestras (review pending)

 

Cheers!

The PhotoBook Journal Editorial team: Douglas Stockdale, Gerhard Clausing, Kristin Dittrich, Melanie Chapman, Dan Johns

 

November 10, 2018

500 photobook reviews and counting!

Filed under: Artist Books, Book Publications, Photo Book NEWS — Tags: — Doug Stockdale @ 4:27 pm

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Paul Kranzler & Andrew Phelps, The Drake Equation

Late last month when we published our review of Paul Kranzler & Andrew Phelps photobook The Drake Equation, we also officially published our 500th photobook review. Wowzier!!

I had started this book review blog in 2008 and little did I know that it would continue onward for another 10 years and that during this time we would review 500 contemporary photobooks.  And of course we have reviewed two photobook since this milestone, so we are now at 502 photobook reviews.

I am continued to be amazed almost daily by the quality and ingenuity of the photographers, artists, publishers, printers and book designers that continue to create these wonderful book objects.

Since starting this blog I have been joined by Gerhard “Gerry” Clausing for the past two years and shortly we have two more book reviewers joining our team; Melanie Chapman who will be focusing on the photo-documentary and street photography photobooks and Dan Johns whose museum curatorial background will be focusing on the more abstract subject matter. This will allow us to engage with and write about more photobooks as these become available, as the quantity of photobooks being published can be overwhelming. There is nothing worse for me than at the end of the year when I realize that there are still a bunch of titles and a stack of books that I meant to review from the prior two (or three) years.

I must admit that there are the interesting “publishing” stats for this journal that I am proud of; over a million eyeballs and counting, various awards and recognition from our peers, in conjunction with the profound improvement in my writing skills over the years (please, not too many comments to contrary and as this would be a personal concept that I would like to dearly hold on to).

More importantly has been the wonderful discussions and exchanges with extremely creative artist, photographers and designers who in turn have developed some wonderful relations with caring publishers and daring printers who have been willing to take creative chances. Bravo!!

Which in turn all of these beautiful and billiantly designed books are very inspirational in my own artist book practice. Likewise, I hope that you have found our reviews of photobooks and photo-based artist books to be equally inspirational; whether  you are a book collector, bookstore, artist, photographer, designer, publisher or printer.

We are equally indebted to the many photographers and artist in conjunction with their publishers who have provided us with the review copies to work from as holding wonderful these book objects is really a critical part of our review process. So a very big Thank You for your support.

Cheers!!

The PhotoBook Journal team: Doug, Gerry, Melanie and Dan

September 12, 2018

Introduction to PhotoBook Design – October LACP workshop

Introduction to Photo Book Design with Douglas Stockdale (Two sessions)

Introduction to Photo Book Design workshop

Los Angeles Center for Photography

Next month, October 7th and 14th, I will be repeating my popular two-day workshop in conjunction with the Los Angeles Center for Photograph (LACP). This workshop focuses on the fundamental development of a book; understanding the artists intent and how that then translates into a book object in the editing, sequencing and layout of the book supported by the book’s design attributes.

The two-day goal of the workshop is for each person to leave with a first rough draft of their book dummy of their personal photographic project. I will provide both creative and practical book design options and project critiques to help those attending to move their book publication forward.

After a morning of studying limited edition artists’ books, trade books and zines, the remainder of the first morning will be spent understanding each artist/photographers publishing objectives. Subsequently I will include discussions on the elements of book design, essence of project editing, image editing and sequencing, the purpose of a physical book-dummy, concluding with a hands-on fabrication of a saddle-stitch dummy book/zine.

The second session delves further into the book dummy development and includes discussions about the business elements of (self/indie) publishing a book, critical book production elements and making a publisher submission. The remainder of the day students will continue working on the development of their dummy book as a collaborative project as well as some one-on-one time with each participant.

The feedback I have received over the years is this workshop has been critical to many artist and photographers for their publishing success; helping provide clarity on their project and providing creative book design options. So whether you are developing your very first book or your book project is one of many, I think you will find our time together to be really inspiring.

I hope you can join me for this fun and yet intense workshop.

This workshop is being held at the LACP facilities: 1515 Wilcox Ave, Los Angeles, CA

Let me know if you have any questions,

Cheers!

Douglas, one of our favorite photobook editors

 

September 9, 2018

Julia Borissova – Let Me Fall Again

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Let Me Fall Again, Julia Borissova, Copyright 2018

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

Self-Published: St Petersburg, Russia

Essay, Julia Borissova

Text: Russian, English

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Stiffcover book, handsewn binding, stitching, inserts, gate-folds, First edition of 239, hand-made in Russia

Photobook designer: Julia Borissova

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Notes: It was not until I had a chance to spend time with Julia Borissova’s latest photobook, Let Me Fall Again, did I reflect on the act of what constitutes “failure” for an artist, versus the perspective of the corporate/business person. For a business venture failure is the worst possible event. I will have to admit as a person who has been involved in the development of countless pharmaceutical drugs that researchers are probably more in alignment with artist in that a “failure” can considered to be on a path to success.

She states in her artist statement, which is complexly folded and partially hidden within the book, …this word (failure) means something else in the art world. The gap between the initial intention and realization of artwork can be seen as an artistic failure. However, if unsuccessful attempts are not regarded as the final result, it encourages artist to work more and gives them opportunities to grow.

The subject of her book is Charles Leroux who was an early (1890’s) adapter in the act of parachuting, which eventually led to his early demise in Estonia (Russia). The book is complex and lots of parts are mashed together, a continuous series of small and large gatefolds that reveal text, posters, images and illustrations. I will have to say, I wonder if all of these page folds are a bit overdone, but I sense the reason behind the complexity and sculptural qualities; an attempt to create an interaction by the reader for more engagement with the contents.

Second regarding her layered narrative; on the surface it would appear to be about her subject, but lurking below the surface, I sense it’s about the lives of creative persons. Granted most artist do not jump out of high-flying balloons on makeshift ropes, but figuratively most artist are constantly taking chances with their creative endeavors while they put at great risk a chance at making a sustaining livelihood.

In an interview with Julia, she states Regarding the collages in my book, I used the wire to create three-dimensional objects, I have been inspired by the works of Miró and Calder. These works do not illustrate the history of the balloonist, I just wanted to visualize a sense of lightness & fragility – I tried to draw in the air.

As a book artist, I find Borissova’s book to be very inspirational for my creativity; especially if after working for a year on a new book for it to be greeted with a luke-warm response. Thus, like Borissova, every time I feel I might fail in my work, I now think about Charles, who not being able to fall would have meant great failure.

Btw, I will not divulge the little hidden secret found at the end of each book concealed in a very complex folded insert glued into the ending pages. Perhaps an Icarus metaphor. And to say I am a big fan of Borissova’s artistic work is an understatement. Very inspirational!

Other artist books by Julia Borissova on TPBJ; J. B. About Men Floating in the AirDimitryDOM, address, Running to the Edge

Cheers,

Douglas

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September 5, 2018

NY Art Book Fair – Coming soon!

Filed under: Artist Books, Photo Book NEWS, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 5:38 pm

NY Art Book Fair

Printed Matter, Inc. presents

THE NY ART BOOK FAIR

September 21-23, 2018

Preview: Thursday, September 20, 6-9pm

Purchase your preview ticket here.

Printed Matter Members receive free entry to the preview. Please present your membership card at the door. To join as a Member, click here.

 

Free entrance

HOURS AND LOCATION

Preview Thursday, September 20, 6-9pm (Ticketed)

Friday, September  21, 1-7pm

Saturday, September 22, 11am-9pm

Sunday, September 23, 11am-7pm

 

Where: MoMA PS1 is located at 22-25 Jackson Avenue on 46th Avenue, Long Island City, NY.

(Of course, we on the Left coast are patiently waiting for the LA Art Book Fair)

Cheers!

August 31, 2018

Melissa Lazuka – Song of the Cicadas

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Song of the Cicadas, Melissa Lazuka, Copyright 2018

Artist: Melissa Lazuka (born Cleveland, OH, resides Chardon, Ohio)

Self-Published, Ohio

Without essays, pagination or captions

Text: English

Hardcover book, leporello binding, photographs & paper ephemera, hand-made, limited edition 1/1 in a series of 25, USA

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Photobook concept & designer: Melissa Lazuka

Notes: I met Melissa Lazuka while reviewing her portfolio at the LACP (Los Angeles Center of Photography) EXPOSURES 2018 event last July during which we spent time with two of her artist books, Song of Cicadasand Fly Away, both of which I thought were brilliant. We mostly discussed the challenges of an artist book (1/1) and how to create multiple of the concept, which I have just written about in a previous article on TPBJ.

Lazuka has decided that her the path forward to create multiples of her artist book is to create a series of unique books (each 1/1), each individually unique but slightly different as to all of the found ephemera and materials that constitute her books. This artist books series is unified by the photographs she will included in each edition. I am very excited about her publishing strategy as it has in turn allowed me to acquire an edition for this artist book review.

Her artist book is a wonderful mashup of found objects and old ephemera that are layered with her own photographic prints. Bits and pieces of old books create the foundation to support her photographs, thus creating the back-story of past events, while foretelling of the future. Lazuka’s photographs appear almost mysterious, in and out of soft focus, that are grounded in current experiences while harkening ahead to future memories, as an indistinct recall of past events. She obtains her beautiful visual effects with a combination of technics; freelensing and the use of multiple exposures. Her black and white photographs remind me of the magical work of Keith Carter’s Fireflies and a monochromatic version of the recent photobooks by Cig Harvey, such as her Gardening at Night.

Lazuka has written a poignant passage that I would like to share as it sums up very elegantly her intent; These photographs of single, delicate and fragile moments of time, I collected just as we collected the beautiful see-through wings of the cicadas that summer of 2016. Like the cicadas that lived such a short time, these moments did too. They were beautiful and real, and then they were gone, only to be remembered in photographs, just as all we had left of the cicadas in the end. Each photograph in this series (Editor: artist book) is an individual moment, that was not a memory as it was taken, but became one in its afterlife. However, strung together, in this series, this is their “song”, like the cicadas, of those magical summer days.

It is safe to say that her narrative is not about these prolific cicadas bugs that strangely appear in mass every 17 years, or the sometimes-deafening noise they can create in the late evening. Lazuka as a parent and a mother of four is very aware of events that are not fathomable to a child; that a fleeting event that her child is experiencing now will not reoccur again for a considerable amount of time and when it does, that child will have grown to be a young adult. Her short narrative is about taking note of the present moment, perhaps event admonishing to be presentat all times, as today’s events will eventually create future memories.

As a physical object, her small petite artist book is roughly hone with ragged edges, uneven textures and a deckled top-edge on the heavy paper that creates the backbone of this leporello book design. Truly a visual diamond in the rough. There is nothing neat and tidy about this artist book, but conversely it is a bit of a mess, perhaps even purposely crude, with hints of fragility such that it seems as though it might suddenly fall apart, thus a wonderful metaphor for life itself. Highly recommended.

Cheers, Doug

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August 30, 2018

Artist books – challenge of multiples

Filed under: Artist Books, Photo Book Discussions — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 1:44 pm

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Melissa Lazuka, Song of the Cicadas, copyright 2018

One of the pleasures I derive from being a Portfolio Reviewer for various events is that my experience as Editor of this Journal attracts individuals who are either in the midst of creating a photobook or may have recently developed one. Such was the case recently when I was providing Portfolio Reviews for Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP) CONNECT 2018 event this summer and I had the opportunity to spend time with Melissa Lazuka with her two recent artist books, Song of the Cicadas and Fly Away. (Note; I will be providing a full review of Song of the Cicadas).

Our discussion is prompting me to briefly write about some of the challenges of making multiples of unique hand-made artist books, versus printing a smaller number of traditional printed and bound photobooks.

Both of Lazuka’s hand-made artist books are very complex, layered and very unique (1 of 1) and our discussion was centered on the issue for artists who create very intriguing and visually complex artist books of how then expand that physical concept into a larger edition size. I shared my personal experience of creating a unique artist book (Pine Lake), and the challenges to expand on this to produce multiples of this concept and how this involved into a relatively fun scavenger hunt as I attempted to find all of the book parts to make a larger edition of 25.

For Lazuka, she had found some unique old book parts that she had deconstructed to create her artist books and the daunting challenge of how to either find more of the same, something similar, or re-create these book elements. As an example, I shared with her how I had found some ephemera for Pine Lake and resorted to recreate these elements for my book since I could not obtain multiple copies of these old items.

Another artist who has successfully found a way to create multiples of her artist books is the Russian book artist Julia Borissova. I have reviewed many of her very creative endeavors on TPBJ and I will shortly feature her latest, Let Me Fall Again. For this article, I asked Borissova to discuss her approach to transcend from a singular artist book idea to creating multiples of her concepts.

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Julia Borissova, Let Me Fall Again, copyright 2018

Borissova states; When I’m creating a unique book dummy, I’m thinking about all details. Sometimes I understand that the design of my book is to much complicated that I can realise it only by my hands, so I print the edition in the form of sheets in print office (commercial printer) and after that I make the rest work myself – cutting, binding and so on. 

But always the choice of materials (paper, carton) was very important for me, and always I tried to evolve my idea through color, weight, size of the book.  The construction of my book consists of various layers  which viewers are encouraged to interact with. My intent is to create the book in form of art-object as multiples to present them to viewers with no barriers or limitations, so that everyone can touch them freely and imagine the multiple possible forms that the book can offer. The main value of my work with books — is the contact with the viewer.

Another issue with artist books, even with an edition of 25, is that there are so few of these it makes it difficult to provide all of the requests from editors, publishers and bloggers to see and handle the physical object and still have some books to sell. Thus the limited number of books for promotion also limited the number of potential buyers who become aware of the books. Likewise, the limited number of the edition can also increase the relative cost of the book as the small size precludes a lot of commercial printing, binding and other supporting opportunities. Which is one of the reasons that I expanded the edition size of Bluewater Shore, my sequel to Pine Lake, to an edition of 99, plus A/Ps to have more books available for review copies, etc while concurrently reducing some of the complexity, such as eliminating the wooden box frame for the book and the extra ephemera.

Thus Borissova and Lazuka have taken two different paths for their artist book multiples. Borissova, whom I think is similar to my practice, is on the path to pre-visualize an artist book in the context of how multiples of the concept could be actualized. It seems for Borissova even that artistic journal is a creative endeavor as only the concept is determined before she develops her edition.

Meanwhile Lazuka has decided that for her multiples, these will be a series of unique (1 of 1) artist books that certain elements will be repeated, such as the inclusion of her photographs, that then will be layered on similar found book materials for her small edition series, such as the 25 she intends to create for Song of the Cicadas. Each of these artist books will be truly unique but repeating the design elements with similar materials will help her expand and extend her concept to a much larger audience.

Cheers

July 14, 2018

Cathy Immordino – Through The Looking Glass

Filed under: Artist Books, Book Reviews — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:52 am

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Artist: Cathy Immordino (born Eden Prairie, MN & resides Los Angeles, CA)

Self-Published, USA, 2017

Text: English

Soft cover, hand printed & PVA binding, leporello design, cyanotype printing, Edition 20

Artist book concept & designer: Cathy Immordino

Notes: In Lewis Carol’s fantasy novel Through the Looking Glass, the reader embarks on a curious journey that takes them to strange and wondrous events, as if in the Twilight Zone, into a mysterious parallel world. Likewise Cathy Immordino taps into another mysterious experience with the design and layout of her complex and layered artist book of the same title.

She states “The book explores the different uses of lenses in a steampunk manner. From space helmets and ships to submarines, robotic birds and fish, lens growing trees, robots and interior design and more. “Through the Looking Glass” further explores the possibilities of lenses in another reality”.

As observed in the top view of her book below, the book can be experienced by folding, refolding and examining the contents from various perspectives. In the process one finds some mysterious and wonderfully hidden content. Similar to Carol’s narrative, Immordino invites the reader to take a “trip” to consider how one experiences reality and the many possible alternatives to view one’s life perspective.

That the book contains a submarine and to find out the book was Cyanotype printed in her basement (yes, there a few of these in Southern California) is a delightful autobiographical twist. This artist book is very high on creative entertainment value.

Cheers!

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June 9, 2018

Ellen Korth – Fabric of Time

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Artist: Ellen Korth (b. The Hague, Netherlands – resides Deventer (Netherlands) & Nordhorn (Germany)

Self-Published 2018 and developed in collaboration with Castle (Kasteel) Twickel (Netherlands) (see exhibition photo below), signed and numbered Edition of 50

Text: English

Poetry: Pablo Nerudo

Stiff cover, rolled, artist printed on 14-gram Japanese Awagami double-layered paper, and then bottom layer removed, Japanese binding by Fopma Wier/Wytze Fopma

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Photobook designer: -SYB- (Sybren Kuiper)

Notes: Family mysteries and family secrets, how does one investigate these and then subsequently report their findings? What if there is no collaboration; those who could speak to what occurred are no longer among us, then how does one know really with certainty what the “truth”, a slippery slope at best, might be?

Ellen Korth is continuing to investigate into what might be her family history. With this latest work, a layered translucent artist book, she provides a wonderful metaphor for memory while attempting to deal with her mother’s desire to keep her own past a secret.

Her subject are garments that are from a wardrobe collection at the Castle (Kasteel) Twickel, which are reminiscent of her mother’s under clothes that constitute very personal feminine items. It is by looking closely at these personal items similar to those her mother choose to spend much time in cleaning and preparing, Korth might find some understanding or make a connection with the secrets of her late mother’s past that she was reluctant to share.

Perhaps fitting that Korth is investigating undergarments in a quest to further understand here own mother, as these items are things that a woman would keep secret, as these are concealed under her clothing. Metaphorically clothing is a facade, meant to hide what resides underneath, while the undergarments create both exterior form as well as concealing the person’s full identity. A facade is a false front, projecting something that one might want others to think they know and with Korth’s own mother, not allowing others to know the true person who lurks within.

Likewise utilizing the thin translucent Japanese Awagami paper to print her book, Korth layers her subjects, allowing one to see thru the ghostly layers.  Nevertheless these layered pages, without providing a clear and sharp definition, are visually representing various attributes of a murky and unknown memory.

Other photobook by Ellen Korth featured on The PhotoBook Journal: CHARKOW 

Cheers

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