The PhotoBook Journal

February 4, 2019

Photobook Roundtable at Focus/PhotoLA, February 3, 2019

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The Panel: Khodr Cherri, Aline Smithson, Douglas Stockdale, Dotan Saguy, and Richard S. Chow – Photo © Gerhard Clausing

 

In spite of inclement weather (Southern California is experiencing an above-average wet winter), there was a full house at this very useful photobook panel discussion moderated by Richard S. Chow during the Focus programming this year at PhotoLA 2019.

The participants were all published authors, photographers, and a printer, sharing many years of practical experience: Aline Smithson, well-known Lenscratch Editor and mentor/teacher; Dotan Saguy, who just successfully launched his Venice Beach photobook, which we reviewed here; Douglas Stockdale, who has published/self-published a number of books and reviewed hundreds as Editor of The PhotoBook Journal, who is also a mentor and teaches workshops on the subject; and Khodr Cherri from A&I, a master printer who guides photographers through many technical aspects of producing a book.

All I can do here is highlight some of the main points that I found especially important:

  1. The photobook is an excellent platform to display your art, and it is more permanent than exhibits, and less expensive for your audience to collect than prints. It is also an effective way to disseminate photographs to a wider audience.
  2. Studying other photographers’ books and reading book reviews, such as the ones this journal publishes, can not only provide you with ideas, but also provide you with information as to what the trends are at any particular time. Also a source for book designers and book printers.
  3. There are many ways to publish your work, from inexpensive to the sky’s the limit. Artists can also assemble and produce their own work (hand-made photo art is very collectible), to “zines” that can be produced and distributed.
  4. 90% of the time the financing will come from the photographer and/or his friends; the top publishing houses require substantial advances. Exceptions are projects by well-known photographers with a strong following or featuring those who are no longer with us.
  5. Crowd-funding and pre-selling to your support groups can be effective ways to get your book published.
  6. The selections made in regard to technical details such as paper choice, printing method, binding techniques will substantially add to the success of a book project, and need to be consistent with the size of the edition as well as the book’s affordability.
  7. Distribution channels are often limited to those who self-publish, but you can manage on the basis of your own initiative (your followers, local bookstores, etc.).
  8. Mentors, consultants, designers and PR persons are the people who can take your photobook projects to much higher levels of sophistication and success­­­ than you might be able to do on your own. Some of the panelists also function in such roles or can put you in touch with such specialists that you may need.

Needless to say, the points summarized here merely scratch the surface. There is really no substitute for learning from those who have already created similar projects as to what you might want to accomplish, so seek their advice and/or attend their workshops or mentoring sessions. You can click on the links above that are superimposed on the participants’ names and find them if you wish to use their help.

Gerhard Clausing

January 16, 2019

Ikuru Kuwajima – Tundra Kids

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Photographer:  Ikuru Kuwajima (born in Japan; lives in Moscow, Russia)

Publisher:  Schlebrügge.Editor, Vienna, Austria; © 2015

Texts:  Introduction; folktale “How the mighty eagle returned the sun to the Nenets people”

Languages:  Nenets, English, German

Stiff covers leporello (accordion) foldout; 83 pages with 58 color images; 16 x 16 cm; printed in Austria by Rema Print Wien (Vienna)

Photobook Design:  Ikuru Kuwajima, Dorothea Brunialti

 

Notes:  Every once in a while we see a photobook that hits all the right spots. In Tundra Kids, Ikuru Kuwajima, a multicultural photographer – born in Japan, studied in the United States, and now lives in Russia – has successfully created a book that shows us a minority at the edge of “civilization” through the eyes of their children. They pose for portraits in their schoolrooms and in their rugged northern arctic Russian environment, and show us their perceptions through everyday objects, toys, and drawings, as well as with a native folk tale with a nod to Soviet influence.

It is a real pleasure to handle this photobook of 83 pages of color work, presented in leporello* (accordion) foldout style, printed on both sides. The effect is to create a continuity of images and subjects which, while linear, is more flexible than a conventionally bound book. You can pick up the whole sequence of images, turn them, look at both sides, and view many more than a couple of images at the same time. We get a feeling of interconnectedness as we view the enthusiasm and cooperation of the children who are learning about the big world out there, against the backdrop of their Nomad home areas, in which they spend the rest of their year when school is out.

Images include portraits of the kids joyfully posing in a studio setting created in their classroom; they show us such things as their tents and reindeer antlers, glimpses of their native environment to which they seem proudly connected as they are gaining a global understanding. It is the artwork they share with us that also lets us wonder about how they may maintain their identity in a faster-moving larger context so dominated by helicopters and planes and other forms of intrusion, in contrast to their natural home settings.

A wonderful book that lets us share a different world. Kudos to the Nenets kids and Ikuru Kuwajima!

*The leporello folding of paper, in an accordion-like fashion as shown below, is derived from the character Leporello in Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, who, for comic effect, customarily is performed displaying a long list of his employer’s conquests on a long piece of paper folded in that manner. Note another effective use of this method of photobook presentation in Douglas Stockdale’s Middle Ground, which I reviewed in The PhotoBook Journal previously.

Gerhard Clausing

 

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January 15, 2019

PhotoLA and Medium Festival – panel discussion and workshop events

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book-dummy, Guide to Self-publishing an Indie Artist Book, 2017 copyright Douglas Stockdale

I am very excited to announce my participation at two up coming photobook events; a photobook panel discussion at PhotoLA on February 3rd and a book design workshop with the Medium Festival on March 23 and 24th in San Diego.

PhotoLA – Photobook Roundtable: From Gallery Walls to Printed Pages; 11:30 – 1:30pm

I will be joining Richard Chow (moderator), Aline Smithson, Dotan Saguy and Khodr Cherri for a photobook panel discussion. Collectively we have a broad and diverse set of photobook experiences, as authors, self-publishers, book designers and printing.

Panel Discussion: 11:30 – 1:30pm, Sunday, February 3rd, 2019

PhotoLA event location: Barker Hanger, 3021 Airport Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90405

PhotoLA Information for registration and more: here.

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Medium Festival – Developing a Creative Photo Book

I will be leading a two-day book design workshop in San Diego with the Medium Festival:

This two-day Workshop is an opportunity for artists and photographers currently working on or planning to start a project that will result in a book publication. Whether you plan to make book submissions to a publisher or self-publish your artist book, this workshop is meant to help you create a book that meets your vision.

The goal of this workshop is to discuss each photographer’s vision, mission and objectives for the publication of a photographic project and then to gain an understanding of how these conceptual aspects translate into a book object. Fundamental to the book development process is learning aspects of the editing, sequencing of the body of photographs and in the context of a book design to shape and narrate a story. The purpose of this workshop is to provide photographers with the building blocks to move from a complex unorganized mass of images into a refined edit and subsequently sequence to create a pre-visualization of their book concept.

Space is limited. Time to register is now.

Workshop: March 23 – 24, 2019, 9am – 4pm

Location: Lafayette Hotel & Swim Club

Address: 2223 El Cajon Blvd. San Diego, CA 92104

Let me know if you have any questions about either of these two events.

Cheers!

Douglas

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 have been 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. The 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 now observe these photographs with the advantage of 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 that comprises part of Vasilyeva’s artist book is not fully 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)

 

Tobias Kruse, Material

 

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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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