The PhotoBook Journal

October 15, 2017

Dronescapes: The New Aerial Photography from Dronestagram

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Editor:  Ayperi Karabuda Ecer

Publisher:  Thames & Hudson, New York, NY, © 2017

Essays:  Eric Dupin (foreword); Ayperi Karabuda Ecer (introduction)

Text: English

Hard cover, sewn binding, four-color printing, 288 numbered pages; 250+ captioned color images; 10×8.5 inches; drone user guide, author biographies, supplementary image references, index of photographers and websites, index of locations; printed in China by C&C Offset

Photobook designer:  Michael Lenz, Draught Associates

Notes:

It seems that drones (quadcopters and other multirotors) and images taken with them are everywhere these days. The website Dronestagram was founded in 2013 to provide a place where extraordinary images taken with such small aircraft by their owners/remote pilots/photographers can be shared. It should be noted that a few years later, when certain communities are severely restricting the use of drones because of some irresponsible owners, this website as well as this volume advocate and give instructions for their effective and safe implementation.

This printed volume of images selected from Dronestagram, edited by Ayperi Karabuda Ecer, provides us with some 250 bird’s-eye views of the world, in ways that might otherwise be impossible, since we do not have large birds that take us to the skies allowing us to ride on their backs to create such images, nor do most of us have access to personal mini-helicopters (yet!). Each image is accompanied by a short or expanded caption regarding its location and story if applicable, as well as the exact latitude, longitude, and altitude at which it was taken. The editor has divided the work into nine thematic areas, constituting chapters of the book, with the following titles: Drones Are Us (playful, humorous); Close (unusual angles); Urban; Fauna (animals); Probe (environment); Space; Pattern/Shadow (images emphasizing composition and seen as more artistic rather than straight-forward); Move (sports and leisure); and I Do (wedding photography). This is quite an assortment of topics to cover; examples are reproduced below, in the order of the chapters. At times, the volume provides biographical features on some photographers and further explanations as well.

The images include startlingly different ways of telling stories, often taken from directly above the subject(s) to provide dynamic perspectives, especially when making good use of shadows. Other images provide startling angles, for instance, combining a close-up of the top of a high-rise building with the ground below as background. Still others could also have been taken from a small plane or helicopter as well, if it were not for the safety issues already discussed. I would hope that as the use of this technology matures, sequences of shots would also be created to allow the viewing of a story from several angles (virtually) simultaneously.

A most interesting volume to give to someone who treasures this new form of aerial photography, as well as to others who appreciate seeing things from new perspectives! This book is a finalist in the 2017 Lucie Photo Book Prize competition.

Gerhard Clausing

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October 12, 2017

Tymon Markowski – Flow

Filed under: Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 4:32 pm

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Photographer: Tymon Markowski (born Kraków & resides Bydgoszcz, Poland)

Self-Published & Print Edition (400), Limited Edition (100): Bydgoszcz, Poland, copyright 2017

Text: English & Polish

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Hard cover, Leporello (Concertina) layout, sewn binding, four-color lithography, printed by Chromapress (Bydgoszcz, Poland)

Photobook designer: Katarzyna Kubicka

Editor: Joanna Kinowska

Notes: Tymon Markowski’s self-published photobook Flow is a book design that conceptually emulates his subject, a leporello that unfolds almost as continuously as the Brda River. This is a classic design in which form follows function.

The captions for each photograph, English and Polish, are provide on the reverse of the photographs, and due to the leporello design, requires the viewer to physically flip from the front to the back (verso) to attempt to comprehend the photograph/caption relationship. As Markowski states “I wanted to hide the captions so you can follow the two stories – one created by the pictures, and second created by text….It was extremely important to me that the viewer first see the pictures that provokes questions and is is my habit to create a caption that may resolve a mystery

Markowski follows the small river Brda to capture the citizens of Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship as this river meanders to the Vistula River in the city of Bydgoszcz, the eighth largest city in Poland.

This is an investigation of the culture of this region, frequently tongue-in-cheek, providing subtle humor as he gently pokes fun at his adopted city and adjacent country side. A fireman stands in the midst of a green forest with his limp hose line attempting to practice his trade of extinguishing a forest fire without benefit of either water or a fire to quench.  A kayaker navigates a stream of water that is so absurdly narrow that the Kayak barely fits and one wonders how he was able to get to this place and where he is going next. The accompanying captions provide documentation of these tasks in an understated matter-of-fact style that belies a dry wit.

The ability to spread out the book’s interior photographs, a key attribute of the book’s Leporello design, also signifies a potential interconnectedness of this large community and points to the underlying social order.

Cheers,

Douglas Stockdale

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October 6, 2017

Alejandro Cartagena – A Guide to Infrastructure and Corruption

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Photographer: Alejandro Cartagena (born Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic & resides Monterrey, Mexico)

The Velvet Cell: Berlin (Germany) copyright 2017

Essays by Ximena Peredo

Text: English

Pair of books; hard cover, embossed exposed boards, sewn and taped binding, and a stiff cover, saddle stitch, both four-color lithography, Edition of 450, signed and numbered, printed in Taiwan

Photobook designers: Alejandro Cartagena, Fernando Gallegos & Eanna de Freine.

Notes: I was fortunate to meet up with Alejandro Cartagena while he was visiting in Los Angeles for his exhibition opening shortly after the release of this book. Part of his artistic practice is to document what interests him and allow that body of work to accumulate over time to speak to him.

He has been watching the urban sprawl that transforms open country side into suburbia which eventually is assimilated by every the expanding cities. Mexico, as in the In the United States, when freeways, railways and other public works have been determined to be necessary by the city planners, this construction takes precedent over individual land ownership and rights, the eminent domain rules are evoked.

Thus a nice home or thriving business may find itself beset with an emerging and unplanned esthetic, if not economic, crisis. Regretfully this is not a new cultural issue and photographically this type of social-economic urban transformation was documented by Atget in Paris as early as the late 1800’s.

Once a back yard that was open to the neighbors, now has a view transpired to that of the freeway wall or into a highway underpass. With the proximity of a new roadway is the accompanying noise, traffic, litter and related personal safety concerns of a high traffic location. All for the greater good or as stated by Cartagena, “Their view is a permanent view of “progress””.

The publication is divided into five chapters, four of these in the larger book, the fifth in the smaller accompanying book; The Road you Take, The Dispossessed, Where to Cross, Structural Corruption and Epilogue. The viewer is taken on an irregular journey of the landscape of change, the social impact of the resulting changes, ugly personal overpasses meant to help resolve the social changes and the closed walls of the city planners the implied blindness to the changes that are either contemplating or implementing. The Epilogue has gruesome images of people who have been hung from the overpasses, which are difficult images to look at, images that have more tolerance in being displayed in the Mexican media, but perhaps no more terrible than the new man-made urban landscape that is subtly attacking the social fabric.

In conclusion from an interview of Cartagena with Eanna de Freine; “The new infrastructure needs to be built and nothing will stand in its way. No house, business or group of people. It cuts through the landscape and urbanscape to impose its progress. There is a power in infrastructure. Power imposes things on those without power… I was also interested in showing how the new eats up what was there before, i.e. the buildings, advertisements, roads and parking lots.  The new infrastructure doesn’t care for anyone but itself.”

Other books reviewed include: Rivers of Power, Before the War, and Carpoolers

 

Cheers, Douglas Stockdale

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September 27, 2017

Jack Spencer – This Land: An American Portrait

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Gerhard Clausing @ 12:53 pm

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Photographer:  Jack Spencer (born in Kosciusko, Mississippi; resides in Nashville, Tennessee)

Publisher:  University of Texas Press, Austin, TX; © 2017

Essays:  Jon Meacham (foreword); Jack Spencer (introduction)

Text:  English

Cloth-bound sewn hardcover with dust jacket; 284 numbered pages; 148 captioned color or sepia images; 13×11 inches, printed in China

Notes:

“Spencer has found a mythical world, except it is real, and it is now, and it is ours.”         — Jon Meacham (Foreword)

It is a real pleasure to contemplate this volume by Jack Spencer. I must admit that my old cliché considering landscapes a predictable genre has had to be revised. Here is a multi-layered set of images full of surprises at every turn, a testament to the land that once was, is still here, and is ready to be considered anew. Parallel to all the strife there is the underlying beauty that marks the land, from coast to coast, in all its contemporary vibrancy, against a background of a fading past tinged with the nostalgia that some attach to it.

Over a period of thirteen years, Jack Spencer undertook trips covering 80,000 miles and 48 states, to come up with what I consider the consummate artistic observation of a country and its potential. Fueled originally by anger, the project took him to a point of mellowness, resulting in a project that represents a counterpoint to what he calls the “narcissistic, consumer-driven neurosis” so prevalent in our society, toward a symphony that constitutes a beauty marked by simplicity; “the simplest of lives are often the happiest as well.” Images of the Amish are used to frame this viewpoint visually.

Indeed, this is a book about land and nature, and the more modest role that people and their structures will play in it. The images of ghostly, fading town elements are desaturated, the forces of nature are presented in vibrant tones. Images of well-known and previously stereotyped landmarks, such as Niagara Falls or Yellowstone, are seen with a refreshingly different view so as to generate astonishment in the viewer, as well as reconsideration. Animals are seen roaming about, blending in, and people occasionally occupy a smidgeon of the image, or are captured in motion blurs as a representation of what comes and goes. The images are full of vigor and emotion; they are not meant to be viewed as records of what is customarily seen, as may have been the case in the past. There is a soothing yet exciting painterly quality to many of the images; I am happy to report that pictorialism, thus revived, is making a strong comeback, shown here through all the mystery and joy that an expressive approach affords.

This Land is destined to become a classic. I recommend it not only for every collector of art books, but also for every coffee table!

Gerhard Clausing

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September 14, 2017

Brenda Moreno – B to B

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Photographer: Brenda Moreno (born, Mexico City & resides Mexico & Spain)

Publisher: Witty Kiwi, Italy, copyright 2017

Text: Spanish & English

Essay: Carmen Dalmau

Stiff cover, die-cut with French folds, sewn and glued binding, four-color off-set, printed by Artes Graficias Palermo (Spain)

Photobook designer: Brenda Moreno & Paolo Berra

Notes: Brenda Moreno’s photobook B to B is an interesting curiosity as it is a beguiling narrative. We can surmise that it’s an investigation of a family, maybe even hers, located at a place that includes horses and other small animals, both alive as well as inanimate. These are the basic elements that appear to interact and become intertwined with a few individuals and animals having an occasional cameo role.

The photographs are repeated, cut apart, collage and montaged, sewn back together and appear to be clumsily taped in place, perhaps similar to an unsophisticated family album that indirectly attempts to tell us a story. In the process the story line fades and becomes incomplete, if not incoherent, which I find to be a wonderful metaphor for the inaccuracies and false stories created by memory.

Moreno provides factual visual evidence and although a photograph may be worth a thousand words, her photographs provide only a few vague clues that requires us, the viewer, to fill in the blanks. In Moreno’s book there are a lot of blanks in conjunction with many intriguing hints, which like most curiosities will continue to draw you back.

Cheers

Douglas Stockdale

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September 13, 2017

Giles Duley – One Second of Light

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 11:04 am

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Photographer:  Giles Duley (born and resides in London, UK)

Publisher:  Benway Publishing / EMERGENCY UK, London, © 2015

Essays:  Gino Strada, A.L. Kennedy, Melissa Fleming, Giles Duley; conversation with Giles Duley and Roger Tatley

Text:  English

Cloth-bound sewn hardcover; 172 pages, not numbered; four-color lithography, 117 images, numbered, captioned and with expanded background stories; list of organizations and charities; 28×21.5 cm, printed in the UK by Push, London

Photobook Designer:  Shaz Madani

 

Notes:

Here we are, sixteen years after 9/11, and the conflicts and “collateral” suffering are continuing. The longest war in the Middle East is being ramped up again, and an end to the violence is nowhere on the horizon. Only a few months ago I reviewed the strong contribution by Paula Bronstein, Afghanistan: Between Hope and Fear, a work that has been well received and admired, especially in regard to the courage and insights shown by her, depicting a society in which the role of women is still more limited.

Giles Duley is a superb storyteller of places and people in times of armed conflict and violence as well. He too has shown courage beyond all expectation, at tremendous personal cost. You may wish to see and hear his TED talk for inspiration. As a triple amputee he has become “a living example of what war does to people.” This pivotal event has intensified and focused his work even more, and he serves as a strong role model to others who have suffered a similar fate. A tremendous journey for a photographer that started out in the fashion and music industry! His goal has always been for his storytelling to have an impact on those who can change things, and I suspect also on the vast audience that elects those who make decisions affecting the lives of others.

As his work covers not only people in Afghanistan, but also in many other conflict-laden locales as well, this book is an effective collection of stories (from 2005 to 2015) of many individuals affected by a variety of strife in a variety of places: Angola, Bangladesh, Syria, South Sudan, Jordan, and the Ukraine, besides Afghanistan. Orphans, child soldiers, victims of acid attacks, war injuries, and the refugee crisis are just some of the problems to which his first-hand account introduces us. The captions that accompany the images are mini-capsule introductions to people’s lives, further expanded through additional information for each image in the back of the volume. As Melissa Fleming states in her introductory comments, “One Second of Light introduces us to the people hidden by numbers […] Through these images we form relationships. We find empathy and connect; we discover the displaced as fellow travellers […] ­­­­We share moments of the most mundane intimacy.” And as the excerpted pages below show, a split second to take the photograph that allows us to view each person’s life, adding up to perhaps one second of time for all the photographs in the volume, represent a lifetime to those affected. As Duley states, “For those caught in these stories, the time and their suffering is a constant.” And Duley delivers sensitive and respectful glimpses into their worlds. The spirit of these individuals and groups against all possible odds is the focus of the stories told here, certainly also in the small moments of humor and happiness shown under very difficult circumstances.

A powerful and touching volume, highly recommended for all who care about the future of our world, and are seeking solutions other than violence! As Giles Duley says, “We can all make a difference!” His latest work, I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See: Photographs from the Refugee Crisis has been published this year.

Gerhard Clausing

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September 7, 2017

Andrej Lamut – Nokturno

Filed under: Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 8:57 am

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Photographer: Andrej Lamut (born Ptuj, & resides Ljubljana, (Slovenia))

Published by The Angry Bat, Ljubljana, Slovenia, copyright 2017

Text: English

Without essays, captions, pagination or index

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Hard cover, sewn binding with open (naked) spine, numbered (300), duo-tone lithography, printed by Eurograf, Velenje & binding by Maruji, Ljubljana

Photobook designer: Andrej Lamut & The Angry Bat (Matej Sitar)

Notes:

The night (Nokturno/nocturnal) provides an interesting environment to explore a diverse range of metaphoric potential, from the ominous mysteries that might lurk within to a joyful time when the party really starts to begin. Much can be obscured by darkness with its limited visibility, with things that can go bump in the night and the objects that can be seen, whether by man-made illumination or by the phase of the moon, take on very different appearances.

Technically, making photographs at night, especially outside of a well lite room, due to the low, flat light conditions is very challenging, whether using digital or analog methods. If a longer exposure is used it can allow blurred movement or if using pushed film processing or high ISO, a graininess to the image or areas within the frame that might become over exposed as a high contrast image. Aesthetically night photography can introduce elements of abstraction, ambiguity, obscurity, incompleteness and other vague aspects of a limited vision. All of these elements can be skillfully used to explore a broad and diverse range of investigations and many of these elements can be found in this book project by Andrej Lamut.

Lamut defers to the school of thought of providing only images without any context, either an introduction, captions, index or even pagination. Any meaning is left open to interpretation by the viewer and Nokturno offers many mysterious photographs to explore. It is not clear as to Lamut’s narrative, but I am also guessing that this puzzling project is very intentional. It is ripe for multiple readings.

The dark images are printed full bleed without any bordering margins to provide any visual relief. Where the images are not full page spreads, the paired images are slammed together to create a multilayered context. With a few exceptions, the binding of the book allows a lay-flat reading experience that is delightful.

As a performance photographer (EnKnapGroup, professional ensemble for contemporary dance in Slovenia) and uses this book object to further investigate another aspect of performance, stating “Nokturno is a result of my research on performative acts which construct the final artwork as a physical object. I believe that they are the complete opposite of straight photography. What generates meaning in these images are the performative actions made by the artist. This kind of actions have an impact or an effect on visual and physical appearance of the artwork. The essence of performative photography is not what is depicted on an image, but which acts were executed in the process of creating it. Furthermore, the final artwork itself becomes performative by having some sort of impact on the viewer.”

Nokturno is a dark poetic body of work that hints at mysterious objects and landscapes which delightfully challenges the reader.

Cheers

Douglas Stockdale

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August 31, 2017

Algis Griskevicius – TADA

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Copyright 2016 Algis Griskevicius

Photographer: Algis Griskevicius (born & resides Vilnius (Lithuania))

Publisher: NoRoutine Books (Lithuania)

Essay: Leonidas Donskis

Text: Lithuanian and English

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Hardcover book, sewn and exposed tape binding, black & white lithography, glued insert booklet (saddle stitch), contact proof print, printed by UAB Druka, Klaipeda, Lithuania

Photobook designer: Gysis Skudzinskas

Notes: Algis Griskevicius includes in his artistic practice both paintings and photography, and his photobook TADA (THEN) is a series of photographs created between 1985 and 1995 as potential source material for his paintings. Some of the photographic prints have been altered to further refine Griskevicius’s visual concept for a painting, although from the essay by Donskis, the paintings may not have ever been completed. Thus the question Donskis raises; are these photographs works of art or unfinished works in progress, such as incomplete works by the paintings and sculptures of the early masters?

There is a rawness to the printed images, appearing unfinished and the additional marks adds to the mystery. When viewing Griskevicius’s paintings (not included in the book), there is evidence that some aspects, whether the composition, shapes or lines have made its way as a latent image. The worn photographs have a vernacular appearance, as though these were not intended to be “artistic” and indeed the raw recording of something of interest. The glued in booklet of 35mm black and white negative contract prints confirms Griskevicius’s interest in graphic shapes and lines as one of the constant themes that threads its way through the small images. This is an intriguing collection of thoughts that could be referenced as a potential source of imagination for the artist to draw on at a later date.

Cheers

Note: Recognized in a Lithuanian Book Completion as one of the Most Beautiful Lithuanian Books 2016 in the photo book category.

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August 24, 2017

Michael Lundgren – Matter

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Photographer: Michael Lundgren (born Denver, CO & resides in Phoenix, AZ, (USA)

Radius Books, Santa Fe, NM (USA) copyright 2016

Text: English

Hard cover, sewn binding, four-color lithography, Confluence poster, printed by Editoriale Bortolazzi-Stei, Verona (IT)

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above: inside back cover, taped spine (binding) of text block, back pocket, folded poster

Photobook designer: David Chickey, Michael Lundgren

Notes:

Matter, as defined in the dictionary: physical substance in general, as distinct from mind and spirit; (in physics) that which occupies space and possesses rest mass, especially as distinct from energy.

Michael Lundgren’s subjects are photographed in a variety of lighting conditions that define the subjects form (and mass) while also attempting to create enough ambiguity to create dissociation to un-moor you from your memory and associations as to what the subject might be. These various objects are encountered in the American Southwest and Mexican desert as well as in Spain.

I had the good fortune to meet up with Michael briefly at last year’s Medium Festival in San Diego. I had the misfortune of not being able to locate and bring with my copy of his earlier Transfigurations that was published in 2008, which was until recently hiding from me in my library stacks. There can be a downside in possessing toooo many photobooks.

Nevertheless I am going to defer to an intriguing interview in the British Journal of Photography earlier this year, which Lundgren states philosophically “The best description of magical realism is finding magic in the rational world. I’m not concerned with being an environmental photographer; I’m concerned with making images that make you feel something you can’t quite understand,” he continues. “There’s something that happens when you’re presented with what you can’t quite fathom. The agreements that I have in my mind in my world view are halted and they are interpreted. Within that interruption, there’s the possibility to see something that we didn’t know. I want to put you in a different world,” he says. “You can’t walk into this place and neither can you leave. You can only turn the page. These aren’t landscapes from real tradition: this is an isolating method. I’m interested in how flat photographs can exist almost as a three dimensional experience”

This exploration is a continuation of his earlier published book project, Transfigurations, an investigation that was completed in the black and white medium. In Matter he introduces the use of color to further examine and perhaps expand on the the potential symbolism of his subjects. This is indeed color except with a twist of magical realism; a dead green animal, a small pool of red liquid, a white inverted snake, a red mass with blacken tentacles or swirls of milky-brown dense clouds. These are various elements of matter that create questions and cause one to reconsider the natural world and one’s own expectations and understanding of reality. An intriguing and thought provoking, while yet visually poetic, investigation.

Lundgren was featured previously on The PhotoBook Journal; Transfigurations

Cheers

Douglas Stockdale

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August 15, 2017

CLAP! – Contemporary Latin American Photobooks

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 1:45 pm

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Edited by Olga Yatskevich, Russet Lederman, Matthew Carson & Michael Lang

Published by 10 x 10 Photobooks (NY) copyright 2017

Text: English & Spanish (Español) & Portuguese

Stiff cover with folded dust jacket, sewn binding, four-color lithography, Index, List of Photographers and Editors, printed by SYL, Barcelona, Spain

Photobook designer: Richardo Baez

Notes:

This is another collective survey of photobooks by the 10 x 10 photobooks team, Editors Olga Yatskevich, Russet Lederman, Matthew Carson & Associate Editor Michael Lang, this time with a focus on what has been published in and by Latin America(s) between 2000 and 2016. These Latin photobooks were selected by 18 photobook specialist who study or follow the publications by photographers in this region. This survey is an interesting, broad and diverse teaser of publications by Latin photographers and photographic oriented artist. Likewise, the subject matter is equally broad, with many photobooks that might be termed having a strong Latin orientation.

CLAP! has a very creative design layout which unlike the earlier 10×10 American Photobooks I found be a challenge to determine what the true orientation of the referenced interior book spread, thus a bit confusing as to what the photobook may actually look like. The accompanying CLAP! Photobook Index of the book’s covers is a more traditional design and layout as well as a delight to cruise and speculate what might be lurking within the covers.

In our efforts for this journal to provide a broad discussion of international photobooks we have previously reviewed some of the photobooks found in CLAP!, thus we can help provide a little more in-depth examination of what is occurring in Latin America. Our book reviews include those by Alejandro Cartagena, Before the War and Carpoolers, Mariela Sancari, Moises and Guilherme Gerais, Intergalatico.

CLAP! provides wonderful evidence of the diversity and high energy going into the development of photobook by Latin photographers and this catalog provides ample opportunity to explore the many Latin photobook possibilities.

Previous 10×10 Photobook publications featured on TPBJ: 10 x 10 American Photobooks

If you found this review of interest, you may also want to check out America Latina Photographs: 1960 – 2013.

Cheers, Douglas Stockdale

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