The PhotoBook Journal

October 17, 2018

Printed Matter – Open call for NYC artists

Filed under: Book Publications, Photo Book NEWS — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 4:51 pm

 

Open call for NYC-based artists
Emerging Artists Publication Series
Deadline October 21

Last week to submit to the Emerging Artists Publication Series! Four artists’ book proposals will be developed and published under Printed Matter’s imprint — selected artists receive design and production support, and are awarded a fee of $1,500. Read more about the program and apply here.

Details:

Call for Submissions 2018

Printed Matter, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to the distribution, understanding and appreciation of artists’ books, is pleased to announce an open call for book proposals as part of our ongoing Emerging Artists Publication Series.

Applications are open through midnight Sunday, October 21, 2018. Submission is free.

The Emerging Artists Publication Series is only open to individuals who reside in the five boroughs of New York City.

This program is made possible with support from the Jerome Foundation and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Program Overview

The Emerging Artists Publication Series supports early career artists in realizing an artists’ book project.  Four compelling book proposals will be selected by Printed Matter staff and a guest jury to be developed and published under our imprint in 2019-20. As “emerging artists”, applicants will be practicing artists but will not have major gallery representation, a significant solo exhibition history or an extensive book publishing practice. First publications are welcome.

Proposed books may be in progress—a final design is not required—however applications should be for book projects developed beyond the idea stage. Though we expect that selected projects will evolve during the working period, submissions should be carefully considered and successfully illustrate to the jury what the completed project will look like. Applications may also describe production aspects of the book, including size and format, printing method and binding.

In support of your application, please provide an overview of any work that’s been done to date, and a brief breakdown of what you see the remaining work areas to be (research phase, writing period, commissioning of texts, etc.) with an indication of how project material will be sourced.

We will only be able to review submissions for artists’ books—works that are conceived as artworks in their own right. Works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, catalogs of artwork, monographs, as well as limited edition, deluxe, or hand-crafted book objects will not be eligible as these are outside the program’s scope. Please visit www.printedmatter.org for more information on Printed Matter and artists’ publications.

Application Requirements

-A detailed summary of the proposed project (up to 500 words)

-A short status report on progress to date (up to 200 words)

-PDF sample pages or PDF of images that directly relate to or demonstrate some aspect of the proposed project, including brief captions (up to 15 pages)

-Artist website or CV

Available Support

Four projects will be selected and published under Printed Matter’s imprint, with all production and design expenses covered (within budget).

Artists receive a fee of $1,500, and 5% of the edition.

Artists will have access to Printed Matter staff for project support, as well as layout and production assistance from a designer as needed. Each title will be promoted with a press announcement, a launch event/program at Printed Matter, and through wholesale and institutional offerings to bookstores and libraries. Titles will be carried at Printed Matter.

Timeline

All book proposals must be sent by midnight Sunday, October 21, 2018. Applications sent after this date will not be considered. Selected artists will be notified by January 2019. A more detailed work/production schedule will be established with selected artists at that time.

Please note that given project budget and short production timeline, selected artists may be asked to shape aspects of their project so that it can be realized within the scope of the Series. Proposals with especially elaborate or costly production may be better suited for other publishers.

Please write to Keith@printedmatter.org with questions.

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 6, 2018

Jurek Wajdowicz – 67/11

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 10:48 am

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Photographer:  Jurek Wajdowicz (born in Cracow, Poland; lives in New York City)

Publisher:  EWS Press, New York, NY; © 2017

Hardback, sewn binding; illustrated cover; 72 pages, paginated, full color; 7 ¾ x 11 ¾ inches (20 x 30 cm); printed in the USA

Photobook Designer:  Emerson, Wajdowicz Studios

 

Notes:

Letting go of one’s remaining parent and of one’s parental home is a formidable task. Suddenly feelings of abandonment may emerge, and childhood memories become conscious again. When combined with making arrangements for the funeral and gazing upon what remains in that home of moments now past, and from the perspective of another country which has become a second home, we are prepared to sense multiple layers of memory and recollections, as well as cultural and personal perspectives in glancing back on so much detail of a shared life.

Jurek Wajdowicz is up to that task and then some. A highly regarded designer and fine-art photographer based in the US, he traveled back to Lodz, Poland, to pay final respects to his mother, and now allows us to participate in that process through his eyes, his mind, and his emotions.

The result is this touching volume of observations. House number 67/11 – is it all a dream, what of it is still real, and what is there that catches his attention that represents moments of a life that was so shared and special, and how not to lose the memories of it all… Traveling with the photographer through time, we are shown photographs that he took over a period of a few days of the memories in the place that had so much meaning for his mother and himself. A deep-rooted sense of belonging is mixed with feelings of loss and not wanting to let go. The tones of the images are mostly subdued, yet light shines through in many places, through patterned glass and drapery, around furniture. We are able to glean a variety of items that represent his mother’s life – old glasses, books, suitcases, the stove that was the site of many shared meals that were prepared on it, apples on a window sill that were saved and gradually are withering… We also see portraits of son and mother in the shadows.

Wajdowicz has a great skill for designing his narrative with a creative sensitivity that not only allows him to effectively share his personal journey but also lets us relate it to our own lives. This visual tribute through recollections stands out as an excellent example of how fine art photography and one’s personal journey can be combined and offered to all of us as an appealing shared experience!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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August 28, 2018

Todd Weaver – 36

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Books, Photographers — Tags: , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 5:56 pm

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Photographer:  Todd Weaver (born in Kansas City, Missouri; lives in Los Angeles, California)

Publisher:  Self-published; © 2018

Essays:  Devendra Banhart; Rodrigo Amarante

Text:  English

Hardcover book, sewn, cloth-bound, debossed cover with tipped-in illustration; 212 paginated pages; 9 ¼ x 11 ¾ inches; printed in the USA by Dual Graphics

Photobook designer:  Todd Weaver

 

Notes: 

What would happen if people portrayed by photographers were given more freedom and control over the process than is usually the case? Who would really be in control?

The title of this innovative book refers to the 36 persons who appeared in a specific space, to be photographed by Todd Weaver as THEY might like, moving at will for three minutes for a total of 36 exposures, taken every 5 seconds, while the camera location remained the same. If ever there was true collaboration between photographer and person portrayed, this is it – unprecedented and most intriguing! This project reminded me a bit of the work of Canadian photographer Arnaud Maggs, who photographed individuals from various angles to arrive at a more complete depiction of each person, but Weaver’s approach goes even further.

Here the individuals photographed externalized and structured their appearance and movements and bared their insides as well. We can see a most eclectic series of self-portrayals, produced in collaboration with the photographer as uber-visualizer. The fact that the 36 individuals are artists helps a bit, I think, since their self-concepts and their understanding of self-presentation may be somewhat more developed than in others. This also presented major challenges to the photographer to capture the appearances authentically and with technical dexterity in the short amount of time and with physical restrictions. We see a gamut of emotions and degrees of physicality – some made use of objects that are meaningful to them, some appearing with clothes and some without or fewer than usual. The photographic techniques employed by Weaver also encompass the range of possibilities – from close-ups to full-body renderings, from sharply defined specifics to somewhat longer exposures that are able to trace movement or quick gestures that the eye might not register sharply either.

The volume is a pleasure to view and peruse; the design is attractive and varied, full of surprises. It is as if you are sitting in a theater and 36 characters that will appear in the play briefly introduce themselves to the audience, both as actors and also in the roles they are playing. The volume constitutes a refreshingly different visual record of thirty-six creative individuals captured by their innovative artistic photographer. The process of baring their souls is well described in the impressions written by Rodrigo Amarante. The volume concludes with notes on the 36 artists who participated in this project. A most impressive and creative work!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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August 16, 2018

Michael Kolster – Take Me to the River

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Michael Kolster – Take Me to the River

Photographer: Michael Kolster (born Milwaukee, WI, resides Brunswick, ME, USA)

Publisher: George Thompson Publishing (USA) 2016

Essays: Michael Kolster, Alison Norström and Matthew Klingle

Text: English

Hardcover book with dust jacket, sewn binding, tri-tone (black & white) lithography, including 10 gatefolds, printed at ESB, Verona, Italy

Photobook designer: David Skolkin

Notes: Contemporary landscape photograph as an artistic genre sits on the edge of a delicate two edge sword; part objective documentary evidence and part artistic (subjective) personal interpretation. Perhaps vexing is that these two descriptive attributes usually co-exist in the same body of work. I think in an attempt to engage the potential subjective artistic aspects, Michael Kolster for this landscape project deferred to the use of making ambrotype (wet-plate photographic process characteristic of the mid-1800’s) photographs.

Unlike the digital photography, as well as the use of film, the ambrotype is a direct process that requires the preparation of the glass plates on-site immediately prior to exposure, then a rapid return to the chemicals required to fix the image. As evident in this body of work, the process has elements of chance and the inclusion of serendipity as to how the coating process was completed and the resulting visual effects; no two images are alike. To further complicate this process, the emulsion is very UV sensitive, requires long exposures and without any effective means to calculate the proper exposure in advance. The exposure is by educated guess and until the glass plate is developed, the artist does not know if they were successful in their attempt. The resulting glass plate is actually a negative that does not reveal its essence until layered on top of a black background, thus the reason for the black printed pages in the book (although not really required as the glass plates were scanned for this publication, while the black pages provides a symbolic background consistent with viewing a proper ambrotype).

Interestingly, an aspect that keeps me returning to these intriguing images, is the nature of the wet-plate photography process which introduces unanticipated swirls and flow marks that are wonderful visual metaphors consistent with his subjects; four rivers of the eastern coast of the United States. Likewise, the longer durations required for the glass plate exposure allows the things that will move, the water, tree limbs, grass blades or individuals in close proximity, to leave a ghostly blurred image. This blurring provides for me an inherent dynamic element to these images as a departure from a quick fraction of a second that could result in a very static appearance.

A really nice book to consider for the summer, as his subjects were all captured in the duration that spans spring, summer and into the fall. Although the ambrotype process results in black and white images, there is a perceived lushness within these landscapes photographs. His subjects capture not only the beauty of “nature” inherent in these river pathways, but includes a mash-up of the man-built urban landscape that is representative of the early settlements adjacent to most of these vital water ways.

Another subtle element in this project is that the four rivers featured, the Androscoggin, Schuylkill, James, and Savannah, were until the Clean Water Act of 1972, essentially extremely polluted chemical cesspools. The rivers are all in much better condition today, although still not pristine yet, but now potentially rivers that are in a state of renewal (or at least these were at the time of this publication in 2016, prior to the recent American elections). Nevertheless, this book is a story about environmental hope.

Cheers, Doug

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August 10, 2018

Judy Dater – Only Human

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Gerhard Clausing @ 2:34 pm

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Photographer:  Judy Dater (born in Hollywood, CA; lives in Berkeley, CA)

Publisher:  Marymount Institute Press and TSEHAI Publishers, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA; © 2018

Essays:  Teresa de Vroom (Foreword); Judy Dater (“Only Human”); Marilyn Symmes (“The Portrait Within”); Gloria Williams Sander (“The Archaeology of a Photograph”); Donna Stein (“Looking Back”)

Text:  English

Linen-bound sewn hardback with illustrated dust cover; 9 ¾ x 12 ¼ inches; 200 pages, paginated; 100 monochrome images printed in the Sepiana process by Inner Workings/Artron Art, China

Photobook Designer: Chuck Byrne, Chuck Byrne Design

 

Notes:

The iconic portrait work of Judy Dater is marked by a tremendous depth as well as an indescribable mystery; these images represent a lifetime of astute perception and observation. Her work is  also marked by a courageous spirit and a multi-layered assertiveness and meaning that translates from the photographer to the subject and back to the viewer. Her image of Imogen Cunningham with Twinka is famous, and, yes, it is included in this book (see below). This volume is, in fact, a retrospective companion to the exhibition ONLY HUMAN, shown at San Francisco’s de Young Museum, whose store also sells this book; the show closes on September 16, 2018.

The work shown here includes 100 significant images, mostly individual portraits of humans (in accordance with the title), and also some groupings of two or more, as well as five self-portraits of the photographer, a genre for which Judy Dater is deservedly admired. Her view of people is in itself very human, in that we are given glimpses of inner strength through their outer appearance as depicted in the images. The time period covered is 1964 to 2016; some of those portrayed were early colleagues and/or mentors or hers, such as Ansel Adams, depicted with a slightly dreamy blur – he who always wanted his own images to be razor-sharp! – while others who are not in the public limelight present interesting aspects of themselves as well.

We find an approximately equal number of women and men in the volume, both clothed and not, some displayed more boldly than others. We were pleased to note that the honesty that exudes from these images originates with Judy Dater herself; she was a delight to meet this spring in connection with the Classic Photographs exhibition at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. Here is a photo taken by Doug Stockdale where Judy has this book open to one of her favorite photographs:

 

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Judy Dater, Classic Photographs Exhibition, Santa Monica, February 2018 / © Douglas Stockdale

 

Judy Dater’s depiction of humans is refreshing; she shows each of them as individuals in an honest fashion without pretense or fakery. The essays and the select bibliography give us further insights into the intentions and practices of the photographer, as well as the reception history as well as other perspectives of curators and art historians regarding Judy Dater’s work.

We salute Judy Dater for her long career of forthrightly interpreting the minds and souls of so many individuals and sharing them with us, and also thank the team that created this fascinating volume, a treasure to own.

Gerhard Clausing

 

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All black and white images © Judy Dater

 

July 22, 2018

Cat Gwynn – 10-Mile Radius

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 8:17 pm

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Photographer:  Cat Gwynn (born in Glendale, CA; lives in Los Angeles)

Publisher:  Red Bird Books, Los Angeles, CA; © 2017

Essays:  Notes by Cat Gwynn; Quotes

Text:  English

Hardcover, sewn; 136 pages, paginated; color photographs; 10 ¼ x 10 inches; printed in Canada

Photobook Designer:  Kathy Martens

Notes:

Occasionally I have written about the value of art as an important way of getting in touch with yourself and about its therapeutic value, for instance in my review of Rose Lynn Fisher’s The Topography of Tears. In the case of Cat Gwynn’s 10-Mile Radius, we are privileged to accompany a courageous photographer on her journey (that touches many emotions as well as the intellect), in which her visual explorations contributed strength during the tribulations of cancer treatments, leading to a successful outcome of full remission.

An avid devotee of meditation, Cat was diagnosed with a serious form of breast cancer in 2013, and, as the therapy treatments progressed, found that her habit of photographing daily allowed her to strengthen both her resolve to succeed as well as to engage with the world out there, to notice objects that might previously have seemed peripheral, and also to make new friends that she encountered on the short walks her energy allowed. Cat Gwynn’s strength was the authenticity she aimed for – true to herself and with a vision to give the situation a substantial dose of optimism, regardless of momentary difficulties. I would like to quote at length from what she wrote to me, because the advice she gives contains important lessons for all of us:

My 10-mile radius creative process had many layers of meaning to it. Primarily it was one of the only things I had any control over – everything else in my life was so much out of my control and this daily photo making practice was my way of sitting with immense uncertainty and settling into the present moment of ‘what is’ and finding beauty despite everything else. It was also a brilliant ’seeing’ exercise. We tend to not look at the things in our life that scare us or make us uncomfortable so I discovered over time by looking closely at life around me without filtering what I saw it helped me look at the very thing that threatened me with more courage and in doing so it actually helped me be with this illness more fully which opened my heart to myself and helped me heal, and my oncologist and therapist both felt that was true also. As I say to other people I meet going through a serious life threatening illness – you don’t have to be positive, it’s much more important to be authentic. Some days you will be down and that’s okay, feel down. And other days you will feel great and be with that and appreciate it. The most important aspect of being with all of your feelings is you learn they will pass and there’s no need to stay attached to any of them or shame yourself for thinking if you’re not always positive this will bring back the cancer. It won’t. Just be authentic.

The book Cat has created is full of authentic moments, and I also detect much optimism. The excellent fine-art images and well-chosen interspersed quotes allow us to share an astute observer’s inner and outer worlds and the connections between them. Tension, anxiety, calm contemplation, and moments of enlightenment and joy are all connected in such a journey. Some of the titles she gives to her images give you glimpses of her process as well:  “Hung Out to Dry” – “Hit the Wall” – “Connected” – “Belonging” – “At Peace with the Obvious.” We are also privileged to read several essays dealing with her experiences and with the significance of visualization and grounding. We are able to share many observations that we might otherwise not be able to find out about. For an artist, such “moments of creation” have a significant impact, in that the world out there and what is inside of you can merge to provide some meaningful bits of closure. We also are pleased to see and read about some of the Angelenos she met and befriended on her walks. Thus we not only are able to enjoy this photobook, but can also share in her profound journey.

An amazing experience to share this volume and its meanings on many levels!

Gerhard Clausing

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June 20, 2018

David Lynch – Nudes

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 6:03 pm

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Photographer:  David Lynch (born in Missoula, Montana; lives in Los Angeles, California)

Publisher:  Thames & Hudson, New York, NY in association with Foundation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris; © 2017; published in the United States in June 2018

Cloth-bound hardback with transparent printed dust cover; 240 unpaginated pages with 125 black-and-white and color photographs; 10¼ x 13¾ inches (26 x 35 cm); printed and bound by Grafiche Antiga, Treviso, Italy

Text:  English and French

Photobook Designer:  Atelier Dyakova, London

 

Notes:

David Lynch, multi-talented storyteller of mysteries and well-received artist working in several media, has applied his keen eye to observing and photographing women’s bodies, culminating in this interesting project. In this sumptuously printed large-format volume he presents 125 images, most in black and white, with a color section in the center portion.

Unlike some predecessors whose work is marked by in-your-face grit (Araki, Moriyama) or distorted representations of the female body (Brandt, Fellig, Kertész, among others), Lynch presents a more mysterious, cinematically influenced celebration of forms, lines, and juxtapositions to entice the viewer. The black and white photographs at times seem semi-abstract, to the point where the viewer might not recognize what portions of the body are gazed upon, which encourages guessing; the color section, on the other hand, emphasizes red and reddish tones – lips, skin – and seems to make a more direct, erotically charged presentation. While the volume is entitled NUDES, the project includes all kinds of body forms and body locations, including faces – a landscape approach to the body that keeps the viewer marveling from beginning to end of the entire sequence.

This volume also intrigues the viewers with interruptions and detours in the progression of curves and lines. The light areas are pointers to the sections in darkness whose continuation can often only be imagined. In addition to being a superb master of light and shadow,  Lynch also uses focus to great effect in order to increase suspense and tension in his compositions; out-of-focus curves and areas imply parts unknown or out of reach of the viewer, and are teasingly left to the imagination. The work in color has a dreamy, mysterious quality to it, possibly best described as free-flowing portraiture mixed with ethereal eroticism. There is a playful mix of semi-abstract representation and lively realism in the flow of the work. The images speak for themselves; there is no preface or other essay.

As Lynch has stated in his book Catching the Big Fish, the greatest ideas are in the deepest water, and some daring is required to delve into them and do a thorough exploration. This volume is a creative and appealing presentation of female bodyscapes, sure to become a classic. Highly recommended!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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June 16, 2018

Simon Roberts – Merrie Albion

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Photographer: Simon Roberts (born & resides Great Britain)

Published by Dewi Lewis Publishing, UK, 2017

Text: English

Introduction by David Chandler and essays by A L Kennedy, Alex Vasudevan, Carol Ann Duffy, David Matless, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Ian Jeffrey, Irenosen Okojie, Nikesh Shukla and Tristram Hunt.

Hard cover, sewn binding, four-color lithography, detailed captions, pagination, printed by Petit S.K. Lublin, Poland

Photobook designer: Ben Weaver

Notes: Urban and cultural landscape photographer Simon Roberts photobook Merrie Albion – Landscape Studies of a Small Island is another visual investigation of his homeland, the encompassing urban landscape of the United Kingdom. That he chose a title which in old English would mean Merry Britain might imply that he is investigating the heritage of this country, perhaps with a nod towards the evil spirits of Nationalism. Happily it is anything but.

This book also draws on the time of his earlier investigating English rituals in 2007 that resulted in We English, subsequently the outer edges of the British urban landscape in Pierdom, as well as his time when he was commissioned to photograph the U.K elections of 2010. The book contains only photographs that until now have been unpublished. This is a compilation body of work that attempts to take a straight forward pulse on the many social changes that create the current fabric of this island nation. The on-going flux of those coming to this country from other places, a process which can trace its roots to the early colonial age of this nation, thus creating a melting pot of cultures. The pending political and economic changes of its disassociation from the European Union (E.U.).

Suffice to say, what might constitute current Britain is mash-up of the old with the new. As has been noted in the accompanying essays, Roberts landscape photography has attained a subtle trademark look; using a large format camera, non-romantic (aka factual, dead-pan) framing and frequently a viewpoint from a higher elevation that creates an interesting depth to his landscapes. The later due mostly in part to his use of the top of his motor-home as a camera platform. This camera position provides a pictorial framing that is broader in scope, but conversely, such as the Download Festival at Castle Donington, can also make him the center of attention.

The resulting photobook is complex and visually layered, much as his subject Merry Britain, and a delight to read. Recommended.

Other photobooks by Simon Roberts featured on The PhotoBook Journal: Pierdom, and We English.

Cheers!

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May 31, 2018

Douglas Stockdale – Middle Ground / En Medio Tierra

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Photographer:  Douglas Stockdale (born in Butler, PA; living in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA)

Self-published artist book of 31 images hand-bound by the artist in an accordion (leporello) presentation, yielding 66 pages (blank verso), attached to stiff covers with flip-over French fold; 8.5×6.75 inches; printed in four-color lithography by Dual Graphics, Brea, California; edition of 99 plus 5 artist proofs; © 2018

Text:  English and Spanish

Photobook Designer:  Douglas Stockdale

Notes:  This innovative artist book by Douglas Stockdale brings to mind the parable “Before the Law” by Franz Kafka, in which a man is confronted by what seems to be an overwhelming obstacle and fails to overcome it, even though he could have, as we who are the readers readily understand. How often in life are we confronted by small barriers that can easily become seemingly overwhelming …

Here is a volume of innovatively presented and artfully sequenced freeway observations. The 31 photographs that Douglas Stockdale has arranged in leporello (accordion) fashion constitute a panorama of barriers. We sense the static moments of being stuck in stop-and-go traffic, repeated moments sufficient to take photographs of dividers put up for traffic purposes, with ‘beautification’ planters placed behind them. There is the aggravation of heavy traffic along the Interstate 5 route toward the border in San Diego; there is the annoyance and challenge of being separated from that which lies beyond the barriers. And we observe details: some houses, some palm trees, the national flag almost beyond reach, and other structures to which we can’t immediately relate. And yet there must be other people there … who and where might they be? And some of the barriers are much less than perfect, they show damage or are surrounded by debris. It is a less than perfect, seemingly endless constructed landscape.

So we can consider this project, which is a typology of barriers, a metaphor for the barriers and separators of all kinds that people wish to throw between and among us. Especially in our current moment in time there are many whose main task is to foment social, racial, and/or economic anger and pin it on the “others,” whether we are talking about ethnic, social, economic, or other groups.

Can we overcome these barriers? Of course we can. Look at Stockdale’s images: there are gaps one can squeeze through, there are small boards or a bit of sand to help us take the first step beyond, to let the middle ground lead us toward reaching a better understanding of those that may be different, yet almost within reach. In every country there are many ethnic, economic,  religious groups or segments of the population with somewhat different belief systems, individual preferences, or somewhat different shades of skin color that some wish to marginalize or not give the full respect they deserve. It is important to overcome such barriers and to take the all-important steps toward others. Truly united societies require respectful collaboration rather than splintering into subgroups, and Stockdale’s visual compendium can be an impetus toward overcoming barriers and obstacles.

This project invites each viewer to engage with the presentation and to find individual meanings. It is my guess that this volume, which has been given a bilingual slant but no artist admonition as to its interpretation, will become quite a collector’s item. I would advise you to get your copy while you can, as the edition is very small. For those of you who can make it to L.A. this weekend, Stockdale will give an artist presentation about this work at the closing reception of the exhibition on Saturday, June 2, at 4-7 p.m., Fabrik Projects Gallery, 2636 South La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA (near Culver City).

The PhotoBook Journal has previously featured or reviewed the following other books by Douglas Stockdale:  Ciociaria, In Passing, Pine Lake, Bluewater Shore, and Guide to Self-Publishing an Indie Artist Book.

Gerhard Clausing

 

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