The PhotoBook

December 16, 2016

David Taylor – Monuments

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Copyright 2015 David Taylor

Photographer: David Taylor (resides Tucson, Arizona)

Publisher: Radius Books (Santa Fe)

Essays: Claire C. Carter, Daniel D. Arreola, William L. Fox, Rebecca Senf (interview)

Text: English, Spanish

Hardcover book, sewn binding, four-color lithography, Document section (essay, maps, articles, Plate details), printed in Verona, Italy

Photobook designer: David Chickey, David Taylor

Notes: This photobook is an investigation of the borderland straddled by the United States on one side, Mexico the other that extends the 690 miles between the two El Paso/Juarez and Tijuana/San Diego. Marking that transition point are 276 boundary obelisks, with 52 constructed initially of stone (1883) standing 11 feet high then later 224 additiaonl were fabricated of iron (1891-1895) and slightly smaller at 6 and a half feet tall.  Taylor has photographed these boundary Monuments in a documentary and visually objective style, similar in idea to that of Bernd and Hilla Becher’s typologies. His photographic project was initiated in 2007, well before this borderland became a contested subject in the recent American presidential election and a book that probably has not been viewed in its entirety by the president-elect. This photobook project is essentially an expansion on Taylor’s 2008 Guggenheim fellowship that resulted in his earlier photobook, Working The Line, also published by Radius Books.

This is a obsessive investigation, as he has stated “the obelisks have ended up familiar figures invested with enormous meaning for me“. Each of the 276 boundary markers rests within an urban or rural landscape relative to the two respective countries. His photographs of the urban marker landscape provides a sharp visual contrast to the lives on either side of the borderland. The urban markers these are usually adjacent to a high fence or barrier to impede (or control) clandestine foot traffic. The urban photographs are in sharp contrast to the rural markers found in the mountains and large expanses of the desert, as these lonely markers provide the only evidence that a man-designated boundary occurs.

In terms of current social-political discussions about borders, especially as one contemplates the lonely markers high in the mountains or in the open desert, these photographs beg the question about what does a border really means?  Is a location/site more “American” or more “Mexican” ten feet, or even one thousand feet, on either side of the marker?

This is a large and thick volume, beautifully designed and printed, which results in a book object that is a pleasure to read.

Note: As one of the photobook judges earlier this year for Photo Book Independent, I had juried Taylor’s Monuments submission into the subsequent exhibition.

Cheers!

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December 6, 2016

Photo-eye Santa Fe

Filed under: Book Publications, Photo Book Stores, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:02 pm

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photo-eye Santa Fe NM 2016 copyright Douglas Stockdale

One of the pleasures of our recent Thanksgiving road trip to Santa Fe was visiting the photo-eye book store. After the first visit, I had to return for a second visit as there were holiday deals to take advantage of.

The photo-eye bookstore is pretty unique in the United States as other than photographic galleries it is one of the few, if perhaps only, book stores dedicated entirely to contemporary photobooks. Note: this is NOT a book store where you will find any photographic books that attempt to explain photographic techniques, e.g. Lightroom, Photoshop or how to use a Canon 5DMarkIII.

I met up with Christopher Johnson, in the photo above, the Bookstore Manager who provided a quick orientation to the store’s layout as well as some photobook titles to check out. This is not a huge store by any means, but very, very well stocked!

It’s my guess that the majority of their book sales are derived from their website, and similar to other photobook websites, they have leveraged their photobook inventory into a nice retail operation.A little frustration for me that some of the photobooks that photo-eye had recently featured in their newsletter were not available in the store that day; Greogroy Halpern’s  ZZYZX (MACK) is in second printing as first edition is sold out, Mark Steinmetz’s Fifteen Miles to K-Ville (Stanley/Baker, London) which were still with Steinmetz being signed, and Mark Ruwedel’s Message from the Exterior (MACK), which was not in stock yet.

Nevertheless, what I did purchase was Jason Fulford and Gregory Halpern’s The Photographer’s Playbook (Aperture) and then on my return to the store to take advantage of their holiday sale discount, Mark Steinmetz’s The Players (Nazraeli Press) which was signed. I wanted to have an actual copy of The Photographer’s Playbook for a couple of reasons, first as one of my reference books for my photobook workshop and when I am reviewing submissions for LensCulture I reference this book to those photographers who seem to be in the midst of searching for a photographic project to focus on. For Steinmetz, he’s a photographer whom we have not reviewed yet and I felt it was about time. Expect to see Steinmetz’s book review after the first of the year.

I will had to admit that I am a bit biased; photo-eye has in stock and selling my photobook Ciociaria (signed!) and the last copies of my limited edition artist-book Pine Lake.

Cheers

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January 15, 2016

LA Art Book Fair – coming soon to SoCal

The LA Art Book Fair will again be at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA and will be another delightful maze of rooms with amazing displays of photobook and zines. This event has always been punctuated with some wonderful finds for me.

From Printed Matter:

Printed Matter presents the fourth annual LA Art Book Fair, from February 12 through 14, 2016, at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Downtown LA. A ticketed preview will take place on Thursday, February 11, 6-9PM.

Free (another aspect of this event that I love) and open to the public, Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair is a (very) unique event for artists’ books, catalogs, monographs, periodicals, and zines presented by more than 300 presses, antiquarians, artists, and independent publishers from over 20 countries.

The LA Art Book Fair is the companion fair to the NY Art Book Fair, held every fall in New York City. Over 35,000 artists, book buyers, collectors, dealers, curators, independent publishers, and other enthusiasts attended the NY Art Book Fair in 2015.

A full list of this year’s exhibitors can be found here.

Highly recommended for those who love photobooks and zines on living (or visiting) the Left Coast.

Cheers!

January 27, 2015

Printed Matter’s 2015 LA Art Book Fair

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Printed Matter’s (2015) LA Art Book Fair

This coming weekend on the Left Coast is what is becoming an annual event; Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair which will take place again at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.

As I have written about the past (2014) LA Art Book Fairs taking place at MOCA, this building is a maze of rooms, small hidden rooms, medium size display areas and a huge room usually reserved for the Zine world. A ton of books, magazines, zines that are new and old (“collectibles”) that can overwhelm the senses. Fortunately the food trucks out the front doors can provide sustenance to help you endure. In past years there was a section reserved for photobooks up on the mezzanine, but guessing there will be spot somewhere.

Schedule:

Preview Thursday 29th January, 6-9pm
Friday January 30th, 12–7pm
Saturday January 31st, 11-7pm
Sunday February 1st, 11-6pm

Also nice about this event: FREE Admission!

Cheers!

April 29, 2014

Paris Photo LA – 2014

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Untitled (stack of new books) copyright 2014 Douglas Stockdale.

One of the nice aspects of LA becoming a regional center for photography is the growing number of photographic events occurring locally. Even though I live a good hour drive south of LA (if the traffic behaves), much easier to attend than similar events in NYC, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and Tokyo. Nevertheless, I usually only attend one day and if the event is a three day weekend, I make it a point to attend on Friday. Basically there is a much smaller crowd with more accessibility to exhibits and meet-ups, the downside is the grander presentations are usually on Saturday.

This past weekend was Paris Photo LA and the smaller Photo Independent (my review of the Photo Independent on Singular Images) located adjacent to the Paris Photo LA. My interest was primarily on the Paris Photo LA is the presence of the photobook publishers and distributors. This year the book publishers was Aperture (US), Kehrer (Germany), MACK (UK), Taschen (US) and Bookshop M (Japan) along with Printed Matter (US) and the U.S. mega photobook distributor Artbook D.A.P. Also a couple of photobook dealers, such as Harper Books and Dirk K. Bakker Boeken. There are also a few photobooks found amongst the various exhibitors, but this took more time to hunt down than I had available this year with the exception of Andy Freeberg’s recently published Art Fare, but this was a prearranged meet-up.

Most of the publishers have recently published titles and frequently titles that are not going to be released in the U.S. until late summer or early Fall, so a nice opportunity to see what’s coming out. Most of the publishers and distributors were organizing book signings, so an opportunity to meet up with the photographer behind the book. I have already reviewed Douglas Ljungkvist’s Ocean Beach, nevertheless this was an opportunity to meet the guy behind the book as we had already been trading email and Facebook messages leading up to his book being reviewed. Thus a chance to meet Rachael Jablo and an introduction to her photobook My Days of Losing Words, Nancy Baron and her photobook The Good Life, Robert Pittman and his photobook Anonymization and Catherine Leutenegger and her photobook Kodak City. As you can see in the photograph above, I also acquired the Harry Callahan book, but a bit too late to meet up with him. I had a chance to meet up with Cristina De Middel, Renee Jacobs and Wendy Hicks during my meandering as well as there were a couple of missed opportunities.

The big tension for Friday night was the darkening clouds and the forecast for rain that evening. Some of the store fronts where either books or pictures were hanging are true Hollywood facades sans roofs. So below are some of the sights of Paris Photo LA, which by the way was held again on the back-lot of Paramont Picture Studios in Hollywood. How LA is that?

Cheers!

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February 3, 2013

LA Art Book Fair

Filed under: Book Publications, Photo Book NEWS, Photo Book Stores, Photo Books — Doug Stockdale @ 11:59 pm

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Copyright the photographers; Paul Schiek’s “Dead Men Don’t Look Like Me” (TBW Books), Dan Gluibizzi’s “Folding Space”/Zefrey Throwell’s “Pressing Time” (Ampersand Gallery & Fine Books), Nicolas Hoosteing’s Matador (Etudes Books), Notes on Fulford’s Raising Frogs for $$$ (The Ice Plant), Alec Soth & Brad Zellar’s “Michigan” (Little Brown Mushroom), The LA Art Book Fair Catalog.

I had an opportunity to attend the LA Art Book Fair this weekend, a cool event by Printed Matter (NYC) that until now was only hosted in NYC. The fair was made up mostly by small press, zines and booksellers/dealers, with only a few larger publishers and distributors present. I have to say it was a really diverse & International show.

I was doing my walk-about on Friday and even still, the fair was well attended. The space was the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, thus the interior lighting was better suited for exhibiting artwork and a bit tricky for reading books although it seemed that everyone adapted pretty quick. The were a number of smaller spaces which provided some sense of intimacy, but also created a maze and the potential of missing some of the exhibitors, as I almost missed one small section when I think I accidentally stumbled into just before closing. To their credit, the Book Fair did provide a map of the booth locations and next time I will take time to look at it from the start, so my bad. 

The Book Fair was not dedicated to photobooks, but there were a fair amount of photobook publishers and dealers/bookshops present and had a special focus, as did the Zines in their section aptly titled Zine World. My issue was there were toooo many photobooks to choose from and I decided to look for photobooks that were about the photobook object, providing a photobook experience that would not translate to an iPad or other digital media. I will have to say that Dan Gluibizzi’s “Folding Space”/Zefrey Throwell’s “Pressing Time” with its pantyhose outer wrap recently published by Ampersand Gallery & Fine Books easily met my criteria.

Encourging news for us in Orange County was provided by Claire Cottrell that  Book Stand (ArtBookStand.com) is looking at a location in San Juan Capistrano in additional to their on-line presence. Very nice!

I hope that this is the first of many LA Art Book Fairs. The discussions that I had with book dealers, publishers and attendees indicated that this is a success event from the very start of the opening night. Nice.

Cheers

May 12, 2012

Douglas Stockdale – Ciociaria Limited Edition Book + Photograph Set

Copyright Douglas Stockdale 2011

Warning Notice: this is a self-serving personal shout-out about the availability of my book in a Limited Edition Book + Photograph set. You may find yourself spending a small amount of loot while yet making a wonderful investment, so be warned before proceeding any further!!

I recently published two small versions of a Limited Edition Book + Photograph Set in conjunction with my hardcover book Ciociaria. The edition size for both versions is 25 and I choose two photographs which were not included in the design and printing of the book. Both the photograph and book are signed and numbered, with the photograph printed on archival stock. After a number of discussions with Susan Burnstine during the development of this Limited Edition set, I opted to go with an inexpensive version to keep my costs low and a provide a reasonable price of $150.00 per set.

The initial interest in the two Limited Edition sets is good and I am nearing the halfway point for selling the editions. I can’t say they are selling like hotcakes yet, but are doing well enough and building a small reserve fund to finance my next book that I hope to be able to announce shortly.

The Fiuggi Edition, photograph below, was an interesting turning point for me while working on this project. I had been deferring to a more topographical investigation of the memories of this area, which is to say photographing the urban landscape without the presence of any individuals. As this scene unfolded before me, it spoke of another way to create a narrative as to how memory is preserved. But as book designs go with the choice, pairing and sequencing of the images, this photograph did not find a good home within the book. So it seemed a nature to include this as a special edition.

Fiuggi Editon

 

The other version of the Limited Edition is the Morolo Edition, which includes the photograph below. I saw this lyrical web of branches with the different phases of the decaying fruit and hints of the surrounding residences. It speaks to the past memories intersecting with the current moment.

The Limited Edition Book + Photograph sets of Ciociaria will be available from specialty photographic bookstores.

Now available at:

Ampersand, Portland Oregon

Coming soon to photo-eye

The standard hardcover book at $55.00 is currently available at both Ampersand and photo-eye.

Additional interior photographs from the book and links to some of the book reviews can be found here.

Check back as I expect this bookseller list to grow.

Best regards, Doug

Morolo Edition

 Now back to your normal programing…

April 16, 2012

Ken Schles – Oculus

Photographs copyright 2011 Ken Schles, published by Stichting Aurora Borealis

The recent trend in photobooks seems to lean towards minimalism; all photographs without supporting text or captions. Ken Schles recent book Oculus is a refreshing change and his supporting essays are as interesting and challenging as are his photographs. As Schles states, “Oculus started with a question – a question about images and the way they function.” This is his investigation into why he was making “documentary style” photographs that “often reflected images I already had in memory.”

Be forewarned, his essays will not be a lite read if in involves the writings of Plato, Aristotle and Nabokov. Nevertheless, Schles does provide a readable, perhaps a bit dense, narrative with questions and observations that I am sill pondering.

Due to economic and personal circumstances, Schles found himself “struck with the realization that images I held, the images in my head, had become separated from the reality that once portrayed. I was taken off guard that my images could be so defining – not only in reaction to who I was and how I saw the people that I loved, but also how those images colored my perceptions, swayed my judgments and influenced my actions. I have to take stock; my images no longer held up.”

The book is segmented into sections that investigate the nature of experience and images, the nature of memory in relation to existence (Somnambulism), nature of images and memory (Mnemosyne) and the nature of experience and memory.

I found Schles investigation into nature of memory in relation to existence in conjunction with his photographs of sleeping children to be the most intriguing. (Note: I can usually capture a reasonable likeness of the interior of a book, but the paper’s sheen was very vexing, so please do not judge this book’s contents solely on my accompanying illustrations, they do not do enough justice.) Schles inspiration was drawn from Vldimir Nabokov’s “Speak Memory”; “The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness”.

Oculus is a hardcover book that is smart, if not brilliant, and innovative and as I do not usually make many purchasing recommendations, I am making an exception for Schles book; highly recommended.

March 31, 2012

Wintergarten LTD – Chinese Bondage in Peru – Volumes I, II, III

Filed under: Book Publications, Photo Book Stores, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 11:44 pm

Copyright Wintergarten LTD 2012

Chinese Bondage in Peru is a trilogy of artists’ books featuring a mashed-up collection of found photographs, printed matter and accompanying text organized around the vague fictitious narrative of a North American journalist’s travels between the continents of Latin America andAsia.  

While the title of the series is taken from an academic publication on the exploitation of Chinese migrant laborers in Peruvian guano pits by 19th century colonists, in the context of these images it might just as easily refer to the Sendero Luminoso, a group of Maoist inspired revolutionaries organizing indigenous Peruvians to overthrow the country’s government, or to the questionable role currently played by Chinese investors in Peru’s mineral extraction sector.  While constructed from “real” ephemera of vernacular image production, the work is anything but documentary, taking its cues instead from sources such as Japanese “pink films” and the French photo-anthropology magazine “Zoom.”

Wintergarten Ltd. is a Los Angeles-based art collective whose work is generated by a growing collection of found photographs and printed ephemera.  They have exhibited their work at Night Gallery(Los Angeles) and been reviewed in ArtForum.

Ed Steck is a writer from Southwestern Pennsylvania. His work has most recently been published by West Galerie (Netherlands).  He currently lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA.

Publisher: Wintergarten Ltd.
Type: 3-zine set, zine trilogy
Number of pages: 108
Dimensions: 5.5″x8.5″, 14cm x 21.6cm

December 29, 2011

Mitch Epstein – American Power

Mitch Epstein 2009 copyright courtesy Steidl

I think one of the better photographed and designed photobooks to shed light on the complexities and the enormity of the environmental, economic, political and social issues of the production and consumption of energy is Mitch Epstein’s American Power, published in 2009 by Steidl.

In reading Edward Burtynsky’s Oil, a photographic project that investigates the same subject, the landscape is photographed on a grand scale, frequently using an aerial perspective that literally provides the reader with an “overview”. The trade-off between the grand “Ansel Adams scale” and a mid-range framing for me is that the subject becomes impersonal and thus a little more difficult to directly relate to the issues. Burtynsky has also included fewer individuals in his project, also reducing the personalization and increasing the abstraction of the issues.

Interestingly both Burtynsky’s Oil (Steidl, 2009) and Epstein’ American Power are large, thick massive books, which would seem to consume large amounts of energy to print, bind and transport. Perhaps it was Gerhard Steidl’s intent to create these large books to capture the reader’s attention about a large, pressing and important issue.

Another photobook that was also released in 2009 on a similar subject was Chris Jordan’s Running the Numbers (2009) using symbolic subjects and thus more abstract, such as looking at a scientific notation for water and being able to relate to a body of water or a glass of water. For me, it was Chris Jordan’s earlier photobook In Katrina’s Wake (2006) that in examining the after-effects of the hurricane Katrina, makes the environmental issues of the production and consumption of power more comprehensible and a wonderful predecessor to Epstein’s American Power. Unlike Epstein and Burtynsky, both of Jordan’s photobooks are of a more traditional (and reasonable) size and heft.

Epstein explores the production and consumption of energy and in a broad and expansive investigation similar to Burtynsky, but using a moderate scale, along with a little dark humor, that can connect with the reader. Similar to both Burtynsky and Jordan, Epstein effectively uses balanced compositions and saturated color to create some beautiful, although troubling, photographs to capture the viewer’s attention. This was a project that would span between 2003 to 2008 and take him and his photographic support team to almost half of the States in America, as well as dealing the political and legal issues of publicly photographing energy sites post 9/11. Epstein’s subjects included the production of coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, fuel cell, wind and solar.

The book as an object; linen and embossed hardcover with dust jacket and the color photographic plates are beautifully printed and are slightly larger than the original 8 x 10” photographs, thus loaded with wonderful details. There is one color plate per page spread, with a neat white margin around each photograph and the plate numbers with a title (place and date of the photograph) are on the facing page. The Afterword is by Epstein to provide more of a personal context to his concept and the execution of this project.

Note: Mitch Epstein won the third annual Prix Pictet photography prize with the publication of American Power, an award which recognizes work on the subject of sustainability.

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