The PhotoBook

February 9, 2017

Paula Bronstein – Afghanistan: Between Hope and Fear

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Copyright © 2016 Getty Images and Paula Bronstein

Photographer:  Paula Bronstein (American, lives in Bangkok, Thailand)

Publisher:  University of Texas Press, Austin, 2016

Essays:  Foreword by Kim Barker / “Afghan Women” by Christina Lamb / Afterword by Paula Bronstein

Text:  English

Hardcover cloth-bound book with 228 numbered pages, 114 color images with captions; sewn binding, printed in China. Louann Atkins Temple Women and Culture Series Book 42.

Notes:  Paula Bronstein is a courageous and committed photojournalist with a distinguished career. The cultural and political situation of a war-laden country is not easy to depict, and she does not shirk from a gutsy presentation that documents the Afghanistan situation from 2001 through 2015. In comparison to other book reviews I have done, this particular one has been a true emotional challenge. Paula Bronstein gets right to the heart of things; having received amazing access in difficult situations, she confronts the viewer with a very stark reality through stunning, in-your-face photographic documents, each of which is a story in itself, enhanced by situational details in the captions. The entire volume is a heart-wrenching documentation of America’s longest war. As she depicts a variety of problems, she also provides small glimpses of hope that point to possible solutions.

The volume is divided into three sections labeled “The Situation,” “The Casualties,” and “The Reality.” Besides the 114 color photographs comprising these three sections, there are also three essays: A foreword by Kim Barker deals with the photographer and the context. “Afghan Women” by Christina Lamb describes the background as well as the progress that they have made over the years. Paula Bronstein in an ‘Afterword’ (pp. 224-225) also describes some of the difficulties she faced in doing this work.

Subjects covered in this photographic journey include clashes between belief systems, cultural transitions under the influence of modernity, political and military strife, and the promise of educational opportunities for all, against a background of great turmoil. Both people’s fears and hopes are made relevant through the immediacy of the visual documents. Bronstein does her best to illuminate all the things that are often ignored or shoved aside, such as the byproducts of warfare euphemistically labeled “collateral damage” and the difficulties of oppression, be they cultural or religious: she shows the pain of it all, as well as some small joys and pleasures. As the sample double pages from the work shown below illustrate, military and political as well as social and medical challenges are included. Injuries depicted, both physical and mental, cry out for finding solutions to create a better world.

If ever there was a volume that shows the follies of strife and the need to make a huge effort to find peaceful solutions, this is the one. As I write this review, the press reports that the Afghan war killed 25% more children in 2016 than in 2015, as well as causing injuries to 23% more children than the previous year, affecting thousands of families (Los Angeles Times, February 7, 2017, p. A4), along with all of the equally lamentable adult casualties.

Gerhard Clausing

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February 7, 2017

Barbara Kyne – A Crack In The World

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Copyright 2016 Barbara Kyne

Photographer: Barbara Kyne (b. Hoboken, New Jersey – resides. Oakland, CA)

Publisher: Daylight Books (USA)

Essays: Barbara Kyne, Susan Griffin, Jasmine Moorhead

Text: English

Hardcover book with dust jacket, sewn binding, four-color lithography, Index, printed in China

Photobook designer: Ursula Damm

Notes: Barbara Kyne and her partner Fran Lowe have property in Mariposa, located east of the San Francisco bay in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains. The land is a bit rough and tumble, which is to say a little on the wild side. Although her book appears to be an abstraction of the natural landscape, Kyne is seeking to go beyond the apparent and investigate an aspect of nature that we do not usually think may be occurring; how does nature view itself?

In nature we take for granted that there is an active interplay between the wildlife animals, birds and other crawly creatures, but we have not been taught or made aware that perhaps the trees and vegetation may actively communicating among themselves. Kyne has tapped into the writings and scientific investigations that gives credence that plants and trees are in a sense actively communicating with each other. Thus raising the question; if plants and trees can perceive, what might they comprehend and what could that vision look like?

In discussing this book, she stated “And my work is about reality. Reality and time. I’m just looking at reality from what I imagine is the perception of another species. I’m attempting to expand our perception of reality and let go of or at least loosen the grip of our human-centric perception.”

Her photographs are abstract and very lyrical as I find Kyne’s hypothesis and subsequent investigating to be very intriguing and visually beautiful.

Other photobooks by Barbara Kyne reviewed on The Photobook: Gerhard Clausing’s review of By Fire

Cheers

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February 4, 2017

Left coast news: The International Photobook Competition 2017

Filed under: Photo Books, Photo Book NEWS — Tags: — Doug Stockdale @ 9:55 pm

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Photo Book Independent 2016 judging, 2016 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Just announced; the 2017 International Photographic Book Competition in conjunction with Photo Independent.

Submissions are now being accepted. Important; the deadline for the 2017 Photobook Competition is March 15, 2017. Entries must be received (in hand) no later than April 1, 2017 for judging. The clock is ticking!

To enter:

  • Full out form here including uploading a JPEG file of your book cover(s)
  • Pay Submission Fee
  • Mail one copy of each book submitted to the following address:

Fabrik Media/Photobook 2017
269 S. Beverly Drive, #1234
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

The submission fees are as follows:

  • $25 for 1 book
  • $35 for 2 books
  • $45 for 3 books

As was last year, those juried-in will be featured at PHOTOBOOK INDEPENDENT FAIR, April 21-23, 2017 as a part of Photo Independent: Six (6) photobooks (3 self-published + 3 from publishers) will be chosen as Best in Show and will be honored at the Fair and Festival. Winners will also each receive a Think Tank bag. Additionally, the winning Photobook photographers and publishers will have the option of sending additional books to have for sale at the fair. Winners do not need to be present at the Fair for the selling of their publication(s).

I am again to honored to be among the 2017 PhotoBook Competition Jurors, who are:

  • Rudi Bianchi, Photo Collector
  • Marissa Caichiolo, Curator and Executive Director, Building Bridges Art Exchange
  • Chris Davies, Publisher, Fabrik Magazine
  • Kio Griffith, Artist; Designer; Writer; Curator
  • Sarah Lee, Curator
  • Kirk Pederson, Publisher, Zero+ Publishing
  • Douglas Stockdale, Photographer, Author/Book Artist, Photobook Reviewer, Curator

Below is a photograph of this team in action during the 2016 judging. So check it out!

& best of luck!

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February 2, 2017

Left Coast News: 2 photobook workshops in February

Filed under: Photo Books, Photo Book NEWS, Photo Book Discussions — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 11:01 pm

The Epilogue, Laia Abril & book design by Ramon Pez

In conjunction with Art Book LA 2017, there will be two photobook workshops occurring on back to back weekends. One workshop lead is by the team of Ramon Pez and Michael Brown, sponsored by Magnum, which is being held at LACP and the other workshop is being led by Bruno Ceschel.

I am really familiar with the amazing art designer Ramon Pez’s creative photobook designs and I have been in discussions with him regarding his design work for the photographer Laia Abril’s various book projects, including 2014’s top contemporary photobook The Epilogue. Pez also worked on the design of Cristina de Middel’s brilliant 2012 self-published photobook The AfronautsMichael Brown is a member of Magnum.

The Pez & Brown workshop will take place Friday, Feb 24th and Saturday, Feb 25th at the LACP (Los Angeles Center for Photography) facility in LA; 1515 Wilcox Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028. The two workshop leaders plan to spend the bulk of the two day workshop providing the participants with constructive advice in conjunction with group critiques of the participants projects.

The book design workshop by Bruno Ceschel, founder of Self Publish, Be Happy blog, is scheduled the weekend before Art Book LA 2017. His two day workshop is on Saturday, Feb 18th and Sunday, Feb 19th in LA. After a discussion of editing, sequencing & book design, the class will then develop their projects using Adobe In-Design or other publishing software.

As a reminder, my two day workshop, Introduction to Photo Book Design, is scheduled with LACP over two consecutive Saturdays later this spring; April  1st & 8th, at the LACP facilities in LA.

Cheers!

 

 

 

January 30, 2017

Left Coast PhotoBook News: LA ART BOOK FAIR 2017

Filed under: Photo Book NEWS, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 5:12 am

LA Art Book Fair coming soon to the Left Coast!

February 24 – February 26, 2017
Preview: Thursday, February 23, 2017, 6–9 pm
Location: The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA:

The Geffen Contemporary is located at 152 North Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012

This is the fifth annual LA Art Book Fair (which I missed last year, darn), and best of all, its Free!

Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair is a 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. A very diverse collection of photographic and art books. If you have not been to this event before, it will blow your mind.

Focus: Photography
A curated cross-section of photo-based books and magazines, this year’s Focus: Photography has expanded, and includes: ARÖK (Lithuania), Goodbye Ranch (Arizona), SUPER LABO (Japan), Bemojake (UK), Remote Photobooks (New Zealand), The Heavy Collective (Australia). This should be interesting!

Slow Culture & Deadbeat Club (a SoCal group of film users) are proud to present “THE FOTOMAT”.  A pop-up installation in the Geffen courtyard paying homage to vintage drive-thru photo kiosks with actual 24 hour film developing services. Photographer friends will be guest clerks and sell exclusive prints to the fair.  Also available will be film & photography accessories, zines, photo books and other photo related ephemera.

As always, a fun and entertaining event and I hope to see you there and if you see us, don’t forget to give a big shout-out ;- )

Cheers!

January 29, 2017

Left coast photobook news: Ruscha at OCMA

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Every Building on the Sunset Strip copyright 1966 Ed Ruscha

Currently OCMA (Orange County Museum of Art) is exhibiting Pop Art Design and included are a few works by Ed Ruscha, but probably the most interesting to those who enjoy photobooks is a very long display of Ed Ruscha’s 1966 Every Building on the Sunset Strip.

This is a deadpan photographic project in which a 35mm motor-drive camera with a bulk feed was used to photograph all the adjacent buildings while driving up and then back again on Sunset Blvd. This street was commonly called the Sunset Strip, thus Ruscha’s resulting photobook plays a visual  pun of the street nickname by creating a long continuous strip of images. On the top of the pages is one side of the street and positioned below this in reverse is the other side of this street.

This photobook design was very innovative for its time with stiff covers and the interior was bound to display as an accordion (also known as Leporello or Concertinas) layout, which is to say each page was connected and continuous. A very long strip of photographic images. As a part of the Pop moment, his book was also meant to be a very inexpensive, which is apparent in the rough and uneven gluing of the accordion page binding.

My photographs of this exhibit were a grab shot and dose not do the Ruchas’s photobook enough justice, thus I recommend for you to go check it out and see the real thing!

The OCMA exhibition runs thru April 2nd, 2017.

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January 17, 2017

Nancy Baron – Palm Springs > The Good Life Goes On

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Photographer:  Nancy Baron (born in Illinois, residing in California, USA)

Publisher:  Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany

Published October 2016. Hardcover book with 120 pages; 63 numbered and titled color photographs; sewn binding, printed and bound in Germany. 22.5 x 22.5 cm.

Essays:  Foreword by Alexa Dilworth; statements by Matthew Weiner and Nancy Baron; quotations by Martha Stewart and Hugh Kaptur

Text:  English

Photobook designer:  Kehrer Design Heidelberg – Katharina Stumpf

Copyright  © 2016 Nancy Baron and Kehrer Verlag

Notes:  Palm Springs has been a geographical and cultural mecca (not only for Southern Californians) since the early twentieth century, a place where a variety of endeavors have had the freedom to unfold. Especially in our time, both celebrities and others consider this desert city a notable attraction, an informed center of cultural activities of all kinds, most notably several film and art festivals, a summer photo festival, an excellent Museum of Art, and many more, also in association with its eight sister communities in the Coachella Valley. The dry air supplies a healthy environment for outdoor activities much of the year as well.

Mid-century modern is the architectural style that makes many of the private residences in Palm Springs especially appealing. Some fifty years later, one marvels at the manner and style that seem to seamlessly integrate residential buildings into the desert environment with its seasonal challenges in temperatures, and at the “good life” it supports. Nancy Baron excels as an observer who lets us look over her shoulder to see the marvels which this impactful town presents. It is almost as if time has stood still: In an era of world turmoil the serenity of the desert and its structures forming an enclave for residents serve as the basis for this second volume of Palm Springs photographs by Nancy Baron. (The first volume was previously featured on The PhotoBook by Douglas Stockdale.)

The volume is designed with a square format, as are almost all of the photographs; square compositions have a satisfying feeling of completion when well done, as is the case here. This is in line with the feeling of serenity of the “good life” depicted here. The colors are bright, a series of portraits of the environment and its inhabitants to match the bright desert sun. The emphasis is on the structures in their surroundings; the occupants and owners and their possessions seem part of an ever-changing context that is subject to some cultural influences and interpretations, as well as to a great deal of nostalgia. The volume is well thought out and is pleasant to view and read. The writers of the essays share some personal impressions and experiences regarding this unique town. Nancy Baron shows a special knack for portraying the special characteristics of places along with their cultural phenomena. We are looking forward to her future projects!

Gerhard Clausing

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January 13, 2017

David Carol – No Plan B

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Copyright 2016 David Carol

Photographer: David Carol (born and resides NYC, NY)

Publisher: Peanut Press (Los Angeles, CA)

Essays: David Carol Introduction, Afterword by Jason Eskenazi

Text: English

Hardcover book with debossed cover, sewn binding, duotone printing with slight varnish, captions, printed by Meridian Printing in RI

Photobook designer: Ashly Stohl

Notes: This monograph of David Carol’s photographs recaps twenty-three years of candid and ironic black and white street photography and is a visual testament to his love of this medium. He has been fortunate to have a career as working photographer, but these are his personal out-takes of situations that momentarily captured his wild imagination. These mini-narratives speak to the power of always having a camera available and constantly looking for the possibilities, open to what might unexpectedly come by your way.

His photographs range from the subtle reflection in a window that juxtapositions oil wells with wedding dresses, the surreal image of an oversized white gorilla sitting in front of a suburban home, humorous photographs of his son doing funny kid’s stuff, to the poignant  self-portrait of his cast shadow on the snow holding his symbolic son’s hand. Who has not found themselves trying to talk to someone and something is blocking their face, but Carol recognized this humorous situation and captured it.

Carol seizes upon the opportunity to create humorous antidotes about mankind and as he states “My job is to find stuff and report back”. Which he is doing quite well and he has no plans to do otherwise.

Other photobooks by David Carol featured on The PhotoBook: All of My Lies are True

Cheers

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January 11, 2017

Claire Felicie – Only The Sky Remains Untouched

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Copyright 2016 Claire Felicie

Photographer: Claire Felicie (born Breda, NL, resides Amsterdam, NL)

Self-published (the Nederland)

Essays: Claire Felicie

Text: English

Stiffcover book, sewn binding, quad-color (2 blacks, dark grey, warm grey) lithography by Colour and Books, printed in the Nederland

Photobook designer: Sybren Kuiper ( -SYB- )

Notes: Claire Felicie has undertaken a daunting task of investigating the dark inner psyche of war veterans who after engaging in terrifying military combat, have returned home with the invisible wounds of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Felicie carefully chose a symbolic location to stage her portraits, which is a former military weapons factory.  Her portraits and landscapes are subsequently mashed-up and interwoven together in an attempt create a more chaotic and disjointed narrative. The black and white photographs lean heavily into grey and dark tonalities, providing a very somber setting for this body of work.

Her subjects recline half-dressed on a minimalist and symbolic military style cot within a stark space. Some cannot confront the camera, needing to turn their backs to look away. The remaining gazes appear blank, dull, without energy and momentarily without resistance. Many of her portraits are truncated with the interleaving of pages, see images 2 and 3 below, and as well as images 5 and 6, visually revealing only a partial embodiment of her subject, as though that person is no longer whole and symbolically broken.

Many of portraits are paired with images of a decaying structure; a desolate and foreboding environmental context that seems well suited to the disturbing war stories her subjects share in the afterword. Her subjects have experiences that are difficult for a non-combatant viewer to fathom, even after reading about the events that have been witnessed. These are the experiences that subsequently result in sudden bouts of intense anxiety, fear, and sadness accompanied with a loss of trust and a sense of security. Thus pairing a portrait with an abstract marking that could be representative of a weeping wall, bottom image below, is a beautiful symbolic metaphor for a depressing sadness.

Essentially all conceptual projects, although especially portraits, attempt to find ways to explain the unexplained and visualize the invisible. Books and photographs become a silent witness. Nevertheless, I find her photographs of these veterans sequenced among the moody rural and urban landscape photographs elicits a perceived sadness emulating from her subjects and although I don’t know the extent of their pain, it feels palpable.

The surrounding forest, although rendered darkly, is steadily reclaiming the man-made structures, thus offers hope for a slowly regenerative healing for her subjects and mankind as well.

In closing, a beautiful book object that results from the creative collaboration of Felicie with the smart book designer Sybren Kuiper and the beautifully lithography by Sebastiaan Hanekroot at Colour and Books. Recommended.

Cheers

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January 8, 2017

Barbara Kyne – By Fire

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Ph­otography:  Barbara Kyne (Oakland, California)

Fall 2015, self-published. Softcover book with 32 pages, not numbered; 10 duotone photographs; 8.75 x 7.25″; $20. Marketed by Norfolk Press  and by the photographer.  For a limited time included as a bonus upon purchase of the second book, A Crack in the World, to be reviewed here shortly.

Essay:  “On Contemplation and Perception” by Barbara Kyne

Text:  English

Photobook design: Yon Sim

Notes:  By Fire is a fascinating seminal volume that has as its goal creating a connection between severe personal tragedy and the universe of nature as a sphere of continuity and as a context permitting some healing. In ten well-chosen images that have also been given intriguing titles, Barbara Kyne allows the viewer to enter a foreboding yet promising atmosphere: we can project events that have fundamentally affected our lives into a series of fiery depictions of nature. These often include a shadowy figure – a stand-in and ethereal spirit, hinting at a gutsy universality beyond the comprehension of any one individual being, as well as pointing toward some solace and an understanding that we are not alone.

Barbara Kyne has a keen interest in pursuing the deeper meaning of reality and discovering clues to the great existential questions, using her photography to serve as a conduit to understanding “the cycles of life, death, and rebirth, often and surprisingly connecting pathos and joy.” Regarding this volume, she states, “If we move through the metaphorical fire with awareness, we may find that facing mortality creates expansion and renewed life.” Indeed, there is a mysterious and mythical quality to her photography that envelops and fascinates the viewer, inviting several types of discovery.

Barbara Kyne is continuing her important photography in further volumes. We admire her work and are looking forward to further illuminations.

Gerhard Clausing

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