The PhotoBook Journal

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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August 12, 2017

Harvey Benge – The Month Before Trump

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Photographer: Harvey Benge (resides Auckland (NZ) and Paris (FR))

Self-Published & Limited Edition with signed print (Edition – 50): New Zealand copyright 2017

Text: English

Stiff cover, saddle stitch binding, four-color lithography, printed NZ

Photobook designer: Harvey Benge

Notes: x

Harvey Benge’s The Month Before Trump is a collection of photographs made in the United States, specifically San Francisco and New York in October 2016, the month before the presidential elections. As a New Zealander who spends equal time between Auckland and Paris, he provides a sophisticated outsider’s eye which reminds me of a contemporary Robert Frank and his 1950’s seminal photobook The Americans.

While I believe Frank is a bit more searing in his vision, I find Benge to be a bit more subtle, while both photographers provide a unique while sarcastic view of the American urban landscape. As in earlier Benge photobooks, the paring of the mostly horizontal images create wonderful dialogs while usually sharing a spot of color or tonality to complement the resulting juxtaposition narrative.

Benge explains;

My pictures explore the strange anthropology of cities. The unusual and overlooked in the human landscape. I am asking the viewer to question the idea that photographs as documents are complete representations of subject. I’m interested in the universality of life and the idea of parallel lives – when one thing is happening here, something else is happening over there. The democracy of non-places fascinates me, in the knowledge that inevitably nothing is as it seems.

While the making his observations of the morphing American landscape was at a time prior to knowing the political outcome, the subsequent editing for his book was with the full realization of who had inadvertently landed a White House job. Thus perhaps the reason for what I perceive as an underlying dark edginess to his urban investigation.

Other photobooks by Harvey Benge that have been reviewed on The PhotoBook Journal; Sri Landa Diary, Birds, Against Forgetting, Eat me, Still Looking for It, All the Places I’ve Even Known, One day – Ten Photographers.

 

 

Cheers, Douglas Stockdale

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August 8, 2017

Eanna de Freine – The Indie Photobook Publishing Guide

Filed under: Photo Books, Photo Book NEWS, Photo Book Discussions — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 12:56 pm

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Copyright Eanna de Freine 2017

Since many of the readers of TPBJ are either interested in self-publishing or at least knowing more about self-publishing, we want to share a new and (somewhat) FREE Indie Photobook Publishing Guide. Okay, maybe not entirely free, as you can read the Guide on line, but if you want to download it and obtain some of the other freebies, then you will need to recommend it to three friends, providing de Freine with some additional email addresses for his newsletter. Regretfully not always a free lunch.

So in advance I will reveal that I was involved in the development of this guide as a Beta reader, Editor and interviewed for one of the self-publishing Case Studies about my recently released Bluewater Shore. I was also joined by Clare Rowland, Tom Westbury, Euan Ross, Kalen Lee, Domenico Bruno Lobkowitz, David Flynn, Gabriele Harhoff and Uwe Bedenbecke in the Editing and other Case Studies were provided by Rohan Hutchinson, Gabrielle Harhoff, Nuno Moreira, Sebastien Tixier, Dustin Shum, Christophe le Toquin, Matej Sitar (America My Way), Sandra Koestler and Diane Vincent (OBEN).

Eanna de Freine is the publisher behind the Indie press The Velvet Cell and has seven years experience producing over 60 titles (six of which are his own photobooks) that have achieved total sales of over 5,000 copies. So he draws on all of that publishing experience as well as the collective advice from the various Editors that he has enlisted to ensure that his Guide is based on solid footing.

That said, what the guide does not get into in much depth is the editing and sequencing of a book, but the accompanying Case Studies do discuss this important aspect of developing a photobook.

Where the Guide shines is:

  • Why consider Indie publishing for your photobook
  • Important questions to ask yourself before proceeding
  • The biggest mistakes self-publishers make
  • How to fund and validate your photobook before you go to print
  • How to prepare and print your photobook in the most economical way
  • How to sell and distribute your photobook online and to bookshops
  • Creative ways to grow your fan-base and build an audience who will eagerly await your next book

Thus if self-publishing is in your future then this practical Guide should help as many photographers and artists can attest that publishing a photobook, either with an established publisher or doing it yourself, can be a bumpy ride. It is really nice opportunity to take advantage of the pitfalls and experience of others.

So check it out (here) and see if this Guide might help you on your self-publishing journey. I would be interested in hearing your feedback. I am also available to assist with mentoring you on this journey if you would like some additional assistance.

Cheers, Douglas Stockdale

August 5, 2017

KayLynn Deveney – All You Can Lose Is Your Heart

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Gerhard Clausing @ 1:39 pm

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Photographer:  KayLynn Deveney (born Albuquerque, New Mexico; resides in Northern Ireland and New Mexico [summers])

Publisher:  Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg & Berlin, Germany; © 2015

Essays:  KayLynn Deveney, Jean Valjean Vandruff, Hank Stuever

Text:  English

Cloth-bound sewn hardcover; 128 numbered pages, 62 full-color illustrations; 20×24 cm, printed in Germany

Designer:  KayLynn Deveney and Kehrer Design

Notes: 

The “typology” approach – series of objects that are similar yet different, and their interesting variations – has been around in photography since the exhibition and publication of New Topographics in 1975. Here at The PhotoBook Journal, we reviewed the industrial typologies of the Bechers in 2009, dealing with the works  At Museo Murandi  and Basic Forms of Industrial Buildings, as well as applying the same principle to other man-made structures in landscapes in our 2010 review of New Topographics (an excellent short overview of some of the genre’s history). That work was mostly monochrome, thus visually somewhat removed from our everyday life as we experience it in our current super-saturated current world of smartphones and selfies.

So here we find ourselves in the era of typology revisited – photographer KayLynn Deveney visits “storybook ranch houses” in the Western United States more than half a century after they were built, in order to observe what has happened in the meantime, resulting in a typological study of latter-day user treatments. This is a documentary and a sociological assignment, to be sure; many of the houses have changed hands a number of times in the interim, and a variety of people have left their mark on these buildings that once represented the homes that middle-class buyers were encouraged to dream about. As she states in the introduction on page seven, “the photographs of the houses come to stand in as metaphorical family portraits.”

It seems that color images are the best way to document these changes: plants (some of which outdo the relatively drab structures in color and size), seasonal decorations, cars and trucks, pets or statues of pets, and pottery, add some warmth to a generally alien and distant architecture of kitschy sameness that nevertheless has the effect of conveying or providing some simulated folk-world-related comfort. We marvel at the variety of ways that residents have added touches of individual meaning to their homes. In addition, there are a few double-page spreads featuring two similar houses in different locations, or two treatments of portions of the same house. The locations of the homes are noted in their captions.

This volume also greatly benefits from an essay by Hank Stuever on “Dream Homes” that explains the architecture from the perspective of the culture of its time, and delves into the application of a fairy-tale approach to people’s homes in an age of nuclear anxiety. The essay gives us an idea regarding the dreams and hopes of buyers of times gone by, and how the dream-fulfillment was orchestrated by architects and builders of the middle of the 20th century, as well as how it was implemented in several areas of the United States. “All you can lose is your heart” was an advertising slogan meant to entice families (especially the “lady of the house”) to purchase such homes that were somewhat at odds with the environment for which they were built. The comments by the architect, Jean Valjean Vandruff, regarding the concept and history of these “Cinderella Homes,” along with reprints of the original advertising and an exterior design drawing, also provide some important background information.

A very interesting study indeed! I am hoping that KayLynn will apply her formidable visual scouting prowess to similar projects of homes and their culture in Northern Ireland and other places!

Gerhard Clausing

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July 31, 2017

Alla Mirovskaya – Old family Photos and Deep Sky Objects

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Artist: Alla Mirovskaya (born & resides Moscow, RU)

Self-Published & Limited Edition (100): Moscow (RU) copyright 2016

Text: English & Russian

Stiff cover with glued printed panels, sewn binding, four-color lithography, printed in Moscow (RU)

Photobook designer: Alla Mirovskaya

Notes: I will have to admit that lately I have become fascinated with artist books that utilize vernacular photographs to create a narrative. Perhaps even more so when it becomes apparent that the archive source for the photographic material is from one’s own family. This is probably due in no small part to my personal artistic book practice that utilize photographic material from my own family archive. Thus I find Alla Mirovskaya’s artist book Old family Photos and Deep Sky Objects extremely intriguing in how she layers and creates juxtapositions of her archive photographs with found photographs of distant galaxies and star systems.

One aspect of her vernacular photographs is that these appear to be of family, friends and acquaintances. The same subjects keep reappearing throughout her narrative. Another layer of this charming narrative is the inclusion the images of unknown individuals, which are photographs that have been found but without any notes or other information to inform Mirovskaya as to their identity. We would suspect that these photographs are included in a family archive for a reason. With the inclusion of these additional unknown subjects she further acknowledges how complex memory can be when there are potentially related persons and now their identity appears to be lost to the current generation. In some ways I think that this is another form of death as the memory as to who this person represents has died for the family. I think it might be easy to read that these photographs of individuals relate to the transitional nature of memory and its fragility.

Understanding the physics of the speed of light in space Mirovskaya’s found photographs of deep sky objects is the documentation of events that have occurred thousands and thousands of years ago, an even longer transitional memory that makes our current memories pale in comparison. Nevertheless, these two bodies of work within her book share the same context for memory; something was recorded and we have the opportunity to ponder who/what these individuals/events are? Mirovskaya has confounded the reader with another aspect; she mixes the captions of the individuals with those of the star systems and we are left adrift as to who might be whom. This tactic also unmoors the reader from a word/name association and allows deeper introspection of the book.

Equally fascinating for me is the close similarities of how a family archive from Russia compares to that of my own, which speaks of a universality of family. Perhaps all that more poignant given the current economic and political friction that is occurring now between the two respective countries of Russian and the United States. I think that we need to remember that at the family unit level we all share similar interests related to making a living, ensuring we have substance and a decent roof over our heads, love of our family and memories of our past that we attempt to hold on to.

Mirovskaya’s artist book is a very delightful and complex narrative about family memories in the context of the big picture of our complex and changing universe.

Cheers! Douglas Stockdale

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July 10, 2017

Elena Kholkina – Time of the Moon

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Artist: Elena Kholkina (born & resides Moscow, RU)

Self-published artist book (Moscow, RU)

Essays: Elena Kholkina

Text: English

Glued Board on cloth with original color transparency in mount on cover, sewn binding, four-color lithography, Index of photographs, limited edition artist book (E of 50), printed in Moscow (RU)

Photobook designer: Elena Kholkina

Notes:  Elena Kholkina’s Time of the Moon is a mashup of created and found photographic material, including icon movie images, which is interwoven with quotes. One aspect of her multimedia practice that she has included in her book are the photographs of the resulting images after she projected movie stills and other images onto her subjects at night.

Her artist book is an investigation of a public site located within Moscow that is a collection of large buildings and structures, some dating back to the late 1920’s and associated open spaces. Due to current Russian economics’ many of the buildings in this large site are in a state of “hibernation” and the future appears to be unknown. Even as the political pendulum swings in Russia, it is difficult to foresee what the fate is for such structures that have a strong historical linkage to a different political period.

This situation of what should society do with old buildings that have a defined history but are no longer viable in the current economy or consistent with the political mood is more common that we might want to acknowledge. In America we have similar situations that range from small dusty Midwest towns with almost abandoned Main streets to large cities with dormant and decaying factories and public buildings which became too expensive to retrofit and are considered obsolete and abandoned in place. Chris Mottalini photographed various homes built by the 1950’s avant-garde architect Paul Rudolph which Mottalini documented just prior to demolition, as the design of these homes are considered too severe for current tastes.

Unlike the ruin porn photographs of a decaying city, Elena is attempting to create a dialog with the current structures still potentially variable and in place as a call to action. To potential save the destruction of this region of Moscow while the political bureaucrats slowly ponder what to do next. She raises questions, while recalling the historical past, such as the collective quest to visit the Moon, in hopes of changing the course of history. Reading this book is an emotional roller coaster ride with an unsettling ending.

Cheers! Douglas Stockdale

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June 29, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Text:  English

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

Notes:

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

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

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

Gerhard Clausing

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June 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

Essays: Julia Borissova

Text: English & Russian

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

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Photobook designer: Julia Borissova

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

…over the Baltic wave,

I buzz just like that monoplane,

like some Darius and Girenas,

though not as vulnerable.

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers, Douglas Stockdale

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June 15, 2017

Richard Humphries – Kingdom’s Edge

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

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

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

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

Text:  English

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

Photobook Designer:  Helen Kudrich Coleman

Notes:

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

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

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

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

Gerhard Clausing

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