The PhotoBook Journal

May 18, 2018

Richard S. Chow – Distant Memories

Filed under: Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 2:11 pm

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Photographer: Richard S. Chow (born Hong Kong & resides Los Angeles, CA)

Self-published 2016, Edition of 50

Text: English

Stiff covers, perfect bound, black and white, printed by MagCloud (div. Blurb)

Photobook designer: Richard S. Chow

Notes: Richard S. Chow came to Southern California as a sixteen year old when his family emigrated from Hong Kong, which is a difficult transitional age in of itself for a teenager, least being thrown into a completely different culture.

This project and self-published book, Distant Memories, originates from a desire to “capture the childhood that I could have experienced, those weekend forays to museums, outings to the waters edge with family, friends and a picnic basket filled with ingredients for a perfect day. Like finding shells on the shore, I am collecting memories.”

Memories are equally fragile and critical to a person’s identity. Thus sometimes we may not have the wonderful memories we would like and similar to a dreamer, we can try to recreate new memories that are more aligned to one’s hopes and desires. Chow’s project is an investigation of memories that are not perfect and are a bit slightly skewed, reflecting on the imperfect nature of memory or perhaps how a memory could be reimagined.

I had an opportunity to talk with Chow about his project and is experimental/play as to how this project came about. He was randomly playing with some tourist pay-for-use telescopes found on the public piers of Southern California and he was finding the resulting photographs to be very interesting. These non-professional scopes created indistinct and truncated images that had an immediate personal appeal. One photograph lead to another and the idea developed of how these ambiguous images resonated with Chow as a potential metaphor for memories.

These are imperfect images of individuals, groups and other beach scenes that avoids the typical lyrical qualities usually associated with the Southern California beach photography. Similar to other street photography, there is also a bit of an uncomfortable voyeur aspect to his use of a very long lens to capture individuals in the midst of their beach activities.

That these photographs are created in a graphic black and white further abstracts his beach landscapes and provides more opportunities for the viewer to re-imagine their own memories of playful times and summer holidays.

Cheers,

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May 14, 2018

LA Pages – Book Fair for Independent West Coast Publishers

LA Pages – Book Fair for Independent West Coast Publishers

Dates: May 18-19-20th

Times: 11am – 8pm

Location: Mayra’s Banquet Hall, 6075 Normandie Ave, Los Angeles (yes, believe it or not, just below South Park)

This event is produced by 8-Ball Community, Bunny Jr and Ooga Booga, and it’s a one time only, not for profit and in memory of Shannon Michael Cane. Everyone is welcome, & FREE entry!

With 80+ exhibitors.

THU 5/17 – FUNDRAISER EVENT
Food by Familia Romero
Music performance by Yanga (8pm)

FRI 5/18
Music curated by 8-Ball Radio
Food by Natural Soul Food
Music performance by Black Congress (7pm)
Future Preservation / Short film festival curated by 8-Ball TV & Symposium (8pm)

SAT 5/19
Music curated by Bunny Jr.
Food by Mai Downs
Music performance by É Arenas (7pm)

SUN 5/20
Music curated by Kchung Radio
Food by Natural Soul Food
Music performance by Jazzy Romero (7pm)

May 6, 2018

Acid-Free Los Angeles Art Book Market 2018

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Acid-Free LA Art Book Market, Blum & Poe 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

This past weekend, May 4-6th, 2018 was the first Acid-Free LA Art Book Market held at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, near the Culver City Art District.

This is a new left coast art book event that occurred this weekend here in Southern California/Los Angeles. Regretfully this event did not get onto my radar until the last few days until various publishers and galleries announced their booth information. Fortunately for me, the location at Blum and Poe is literally across the street from the gallery that represents me, Fabrik Projects and where my exhibition was opening Saturday morning.

So a two-fer for a Saturday; check-in at Fabrik Projects to ensure everything was copacetic for my exhibition, Middle Ground/En Medio Tierra, and then pop across the street to quickly check out Acid-Free. Since my leporello book dummy for Middle Ground/En Medio Tierra was also being exhibited, this allowed me to Segway to my exhibition while talking self-published books and book designs. A win-win. Or at least I thought so (yuk, yuk).

Acid-Free is a three-day art book market organized by a collective of Los Angeles based independent publishers. Approximately 80 exhibitors, both local and International, with video, music, programming, and some food and drink.  I am still unsure of the reason for this Art Book Market’s name of Acid-Free and no one present could explain it either. Another mystery wrapped in an enigma.

Attendance was lighter than I expected compared to the Saturday mob usually found at the alternative event hosted by Printed Matter and their LA Art Book Fair. (note: LA Art Book Fair was canceled this year due to unforeseen events). Most of my book friends were not aware of this event until the middle of last week.

Nevertheless, still in attendance were some of my local and international favorite publishers and book stores; Lucy Soto with Artbook, Clint Woodside with his Dead Beat Club, Tricia at The Ice Plant, Morel Books, Chris and his Nazraeli Press, TBW Books, Hassla, Winfried Heininger (he was putting more money in the meter and missed photographing him) and his Swiss Kodoji Press and some local galleries were present as well, such as Kopeikin Gallery (Paul giving me his stoic gallery gaze) and Peter Fetterman Gallery.

As anticipated, I left with my share of photobooks tucked in my kit-bag; Deanna Templeton’s They Should Never Touch the Ground, pub 2015 by Dead Beat Club (#31); Lucas Foglia’s Human Nature, pub 2017 Nazraeli Press; Alejandro Cartagena’s Santa Barbara Shame on US, pub 2017 Skinnerboox & distributed by Kopekin Gallery, and Mark Klett’s Traces of Eden: Travels in the Desert Southwest, pub 1986 David R. Godine, Publisher, Inc (also signed by Klett) and copies are still available from Kopekin Gallery.

And of course, just a tiny bit of book publishing gossip. Really, just a tiny bit.

Cheers,

Douglas

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May 5, 2018

Nuno Moreira – She Looks Into Me

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 4:56 pm

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Photographer:  Nuno Moreira (born and lives in Lisbon, Portugal)

Texts:  Poem by Paul Éluard; prose by Adolfo Luxúria Canibal; foreword by M. F. Sullivan; afterword by Jesse Freeman

Languages:  English and Portuguese

Self-published softcover with flaps; naked-bound and glued to the rear board; 22×28 cm (8.7×11 inches); 84 unnumbered pages with 42 black-and-white photographs; first limited edition of 200 copies, printed in Portugal by Guide; © 2018

Photobook designer:  NM Design

 

Notes:

This photographic project by Nuno Moreira, as presented in this volume, creates a very puzzling and potentially moving experience for the viewer. Relationships and all that they engender – genesis, growth, possibly also decline, and the specter of cessation – are ever-present themes in this book, which provides both visual depth and tactile pleasure. This is a volume that can have a strong effect on the viewer: it is a journey to the interior via the exterior.

The images are presented in three sections:  I. Being; II. Becoming; III. Unbecoming. This choice of headings suggests a process, and, indeed, the sections show a progression of  dreamlike appearances of figures oscillating and interacting between light and shadow. This is definitely the work of a photographer’s photographer. Canibal in the prose piece writes: “She knows that time swallows life and drains the light away, leaving the faces with the infinite sadness of primordial grief.” And: “The whispering figures represent the fleeting expression of this unspeakable disturbance that consumes her.” We get impressions of bodies and souls interacting and parting, the carousel of life, dancing in a circle, as it goes round and round to its beginnings, over and over. Thus you can traverse the book from front to end and back again. The double meaning of the word unbecoming also supports the idea that loss is always harder to take, not only personally, but also in a social context.

The individuals shown are of different ages and genders, in a variety of combinations, with females constituting the central figure “She.” We can surmise the possibilities or the existence of one or a variety of relationships, to be projected into the pictures by each viewer, depending on his or her life experiences and preferences. We see individuals touching each other or not, partly clothed or not, tastefully presented. There are also moments of being alone. The ambiguity of who belongs to whom, for what purpose, and for how long (if at all!) is where the mystery of the book comes into play. There is also a large bone-like structure in some of the images, perhaps a tusk or other part that seems to have once belonged to a large animal. In the shape of a boomerang, it perhaps reminds us about the mutuality and universality of interactions and of the circularity of life itself. Perhaps it is a reminder of loss, or of death as the ultimate loss; wilted flowers are also shown at the end of the book. Ambiguity consistently drives the visuals, and the untangling of the interplay between fantasy and reality becomes the viewer’s personal task.

The literary pieces and the essays – poem, foreword, afterword, prose (the latter presented in a separate, attractive bilingual booklet) – are also interesting, as they support the wholistic approach of Nuno Moreira, and also shed light on his previous work. I am also very pleased that the author chose naked stitched binding as a tool for the pages of the volume, as it allows the double-page spreads to lie flat, giving the viewer a closer viewing experience, as if glancing at an album, rather than a more tightly bound conventional book.

An important work of fine art photography that engages the viewer/reader in a variety of ways – visually, textually, and viscerally.

Gerhard Clausing

 

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April 26, 2018

Pre-order; Douglas Stockdale – Middle Ground/En Medio Tierra

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Middle Ground/En Medio Tierra (book dummy) 2018 Douglas Stockdale

As I just announced on my personal photo-blog Singular Images, I am very excited to accept pre-orders for my artist book Middle Ground/En Medio Tierra! Which is one of the reasons that I have not been providing book reviews for the past couple of weeks. The other wonderful reason for my absence is that the book publication will occur concurrent with the exhibition of this body of work at Fabrik Projects, a gallery located in Los Angeles (adjacent to Culver City), which opens May 5th and runs through June 2nd, 2018. The artist reception will be on Saturday, May 12th, so if you are on the left coast at that time, I hope you can join me from 6-8pm on the 12th.

Also, I was just notified by Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP), that two of the photographs from this project were selected for their third annual Fine Arts exhibition which will exhibit concurrently. This is a new experience for me!

This project investigates an urban landscape in a documentary style. Although this project was initially developed as a political satire to create a parody of “bigley” wall on the America”s southern border with Mexico, it has come to symbolically represent some issues that are more universal. This American landscape is a metaphor for political, economic, social, and cultural barriers and walls that people create to impede the progress and acceptance of others. If you are building or maintaining walls, you are not building bridges to acceptance. Aesthetically, this project has already been likened to a mash-up of Ed Ruscha’s “Every Building on the Sunset Strip” with Christo’s “Running Fence”.

The books will be ready to ship by the middle to end of next month. I am doing the leporello binding and it may take me a little while to complete each of the dozen connections required for these artist books.

So here are the artist book publication details:

Self-published, publication date; May 2018 (concurrent with exhibition at Fabrik Projects, Los Angeles, CA)

Stiff covers with flap-over French fold, Leporello book design

Pages: 66 pages (blank verso)

Photographs: 31 Images, color

Printing: 4 color lithographic printing

Leporello binding: hand-bound by the artist

Book design and layout by the artist

Artist book, edition size 99 + 5 A/P

Book trim size: 6-1/2” x 8-1/4” (165mm x 210mm)

Acknowledgements & Colophon, without essays, captions or pagination

Text: English and Spanish

Cover paper: 18 pt C1s Tango

Interior paper: 80# GPA Uncoated Text (Gloss)

Retail price: $59.50 USD (CA residents add sales tax)

I can process your book orders through Paypal. Until May 5th, for those in the United States, the price will include my shipping costs. For outside the U.S. I need to add an additional $15.00 to the cost of the book for shipping (if it turns out that it is more, I will absorb it).

Note: since the book will not been printed until next week, the book images are from my book-dummy.

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April 22, 2018

Jeffrey Milstein – LA NY: Aerial Photographs of Los Angeles and New York

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Photographer:  Jeffrey Milstein (born in Los Angeles, California; lives in Woodstock, New York)

Publisher:  Thames & Hudson, New York City; © 2017

Essays:  Jay Maisel, Owen Hopkins, Jeffrey Milstein

Text:  English

Hardcover, sewn, with illustrated dust cover; 10×13 inches; 144 numbered pages with 84 photographs; printed in China

Photobook Designers:  Jeffrey Milstein with Abigail Sturges

 

Notes:

This volume was selected by the Editors to be featured in celebration of Earth Day, April 22, 2018.
“The best of art is not only beautiful, it surprises, it delights, and it challenges our past perceptions.”
Jay Maisel (Foreword)

 

Without a doubt, the impact humans have had on this planet of ours invites exploration and exposition of all sorts. But only a photographer with a love of both art and flying, and one who also has the combined talents of Jeffrey Milstein (architect, graphic designer, and dedicated visual artist) is able to open our eyes to the impact we have had on this earth, and make it a pleasure to view such a complex subject at the same time.

Milstein has done a fantastic job taking us under his wings, so to speak:  for several years he has dangled his high-definition cameras out of helicopters and small planes, shooting straight down to show us what a giant bird in the sky might observe, catching portions of Los Angeles and New York. The results take us to visual adventures that make us question our own nature as well – what do we consider important and necessary in order to cause major impact on our environment?

The book is divided into four parts: Neighborhoods – Commerce – Parks and Recreation – Transportation and Industry. The sections are accompanied by brief introductory comments, and the images are presented with specific captions. There are many parallels between East Coast and West Coast, as well as some contrasts, of course. What strikes us most is the newly found magnificence and beauty of even the most often viewed icons (Statue of Liberty, Getty Museum, Coney Island, Santa Monica Pier) or of mundane subjects, such as giant parking areas, whether filled or empty. From a greater distance, and with the specific eye of Milstein making selections rotating the viewpoint, selecting time of day and lighting, and specific cropping decisions, this takes it to a realm of artistry far beyond much of the drone photography presented by others, since the photographer is directly involved at all times, and specific intervention and a relationship to the subject is maintained throughout the process; this is also very evident in the final images as presented. The layout and sequence were also given careful attention: daytime shots are often surrounded by white borders, night shots by black ones, especially if paired in a spread and not printed flush as single horizontals. The presentation is varied and keeps the viewer’s interest from beginning to end.

A delightful addition to any coffee table, guaranteed to surprise, to stir up memories, and to stimulate interesting conversations!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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April 13, 2018

Rose-Lynn Fisher – The Topography of Tears

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Photographer:  Rose-Lynn Fisher (born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, lives in Los Angeles)

Publisher:  Bellevue Literary Press, New York, NY; © 2017

Essays:  William H. Frey II, Ph.D., Ann Lauterbach, Rose-Lynn Fisher

Text:  English

Paperback, stiff cover with French flaps; 128 pages with duotone images; 8×8 inches; printed and bound in China

Photobook Designer:  Mulberry Tree Press, Inc.

 

Notes:

I love landscape-like images of all sorts, but most especially those given out-of-the-ordinary approaches that reach into the realm of abstraction, whose representation can be considered other kinds of “scapes.”  In my own work, I have featured the body as landscape, resulting in unusual macro images, labeled “bodyscapes,” published in Blur magazine.  Of course, I also believe in the role of art as therapy, especially as a tool of self-observation, both for the photographer and the viewer. Rose-Lynn Fisher has gone in a similar direction in her visualizations, into the “micro” realm, examining the visual nature of tears (a product of emotional or onion-chopping moments) under the microscope for a number of years – a fascinating world in miniature, the world of what I would consider “tearscapes,” is the outcome, as published in this volume, entitled The Topography of Tears.

Of course it is expected that there are connections between art and the emotions, especially in a project like this. And sure enough, the titles given the images bear this out, since the author hints at moments that gave rise to the tears. The foreword and afterword by the author, as well as the essays, written by a neuroscientist and a poet, provide further contexts. Such titles as “Grief and gratitude,” “I remember you,” and “Nervous exhaustion” show a range of moments that gave rise to the examined outpourings.

The tears visualized are mostly the author’s own, and emotional conditions are necessary and concomitant contexts for these visualizations. The author essentially interrupted her emotions to capture the tears for visual examination. There two major ways in which this artistic inquiry examined tear samples: air-dried or compressed under a cover glass. Whereas the former often resulted in branchy, estuary-like structures, the latter often produced more free-form irregular patterns. Still others produced unexpected surprises that defy description. The viewer has a feeling of sitting in an elevated, drone-like position, looking in on someone’s inner turmoil that has been released for all to see. It is a bit like divining meaning from tea leaves or coffee grounds or lead castings on New Year’s Eve. You are welcome to derive your own meanings from the images; some sample pages are shown here without the titles to keep you guessing.

This volume is an excellent study in self-examination through art. I feel inspired to dig out my microscope and start exploring!

For those readers interested in an overview regarding the therapeutic possibilities of art, I refer you to the volume edited by Judith Aron Rubin:  Approaches to Art Therapy: Theory and Technique. 3rd Edition. New York: Routledge, 2016.

Gerhard Clausing

 

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April 4, 2018

Gary Ng – 1 + 1 = 3

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 7:45 pm

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Photographer:  Gary Ng (born and resides in Hong Kong)

Self-published, © 2017

Stiff cover, machine-sewn; 15×21 cm; 49 pages in full color; edition of 50 signed and numbered copies

 

Notes:

Several years ago, there was a series of books by Fred Hüning, published by Peperoni Books, Berlin, entitled Einer/Zwei/Drei (2010-2011), subsequently reissued in a single volume, entitled One Circle (2013). Those volumes recounted a personal history, tracing the photographer’s journey from being single, finding a partner, all the way to establishing and nurturing a family unit. That project constituted a three-part mini-saga accompanied by poetry and other texts.

In the present volume by Gary Ng, which has as its title a cute equation that is not mathematically correct but definitely points to natural expansion, we are also confronted with what can be a universal narrative, and all of that in a slim volume of 49 pages, without any text or titles for the images. This allows the viewers to project themselves into the narrative even more readily.

Ng’s photography is full of symbolism, which allows us easy extrapolation to our own lives: where there is pleasure, there is also pain, or: The path to a new life can also be full of strife. We see moments of loneliness in a large city, we see signs of vulnerability such as bandaged wounds and marks left by tight clothing, and broken glass or container pieces. Contrast that with images presenting symbols of vigorous life, primarily represented by the color red (ladybugs, lipstick, fruit), and symbols of fertility, such as eggs or the peeled apple held in the woman’s hand. There are also many other images that present ambiguity, just the way we like it in a volume of fine art photography. Intertwined body parts add to the mysterious and quirky presentation, at times with a measure of humor.  Alas, the offspring does arrive near the end of the volume, and I leave the discovery of that image to those who obtain the book. Many moments of waiting, gestures of supplication and thanks, and visual surprises lead up to that point.

A compactly articulated, intriguing narrative, well thought out, informally presented, yet formally sequenced. A most enjoyable volume!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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March 30, 2018

Robert Stivers – Staging Pictures – Early Polaroids by Robert Stivers

Filed under: Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 3:32 pm

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Artist: Robert Stivers (born Palo Alto, CA & resides Santa Fe, NM and Los Angeles, CA)

Published by Dark Spring Press, copyright 2017

Essay: Robert Flynn Johnson

Text: English

Hard cover, with image index, sewn binding, four-color lithography, printed by Arizona Lithography and binding by Roswell Bookbinders, AZ

Photobook designer: Andy Burgess and Dawne Osborne

Notes: This is a small retrospective body of early photographic work of Robert Stivers using Polaroid (Polaroid back on a Hasselblad) film to experiment and play with visual ideas. Stivers was in the transition from being a dancer (with recent back issues) to that of a visual artist. As aptly pointed out in the Introduction by Robert Flynn Johnson, a transition from “a sensitivity to balance, form, grace, beauty and movement (as a dancer)….into the fixed imagery of photography was an early challenge.”

As such there is a rawness in the Polaroid remnants that remain, reminding me of the concept behind Stephen Gill in which he buried photographic prints to see what might happen. In the case of Stivers these Polaroids were not meant to be the final artistic object, but his attempts to understand the potentials of the medium; thus creating collages, scratching and burning the image surface and other experiments to push and pull the potential narrative. What we see are out-takes and an inventory of the early work-in-progress, similar to the hand-written notes of an author or the preliminary drawings for a painting.

What results are mysterious images cloaked in darkness that became the building blocks of Stivers photographic oeuvre. The book design by Andy Burgess and Dawne Osborne push that concept of mystery and the elements of surrealism even further with the utilization of black pages and black image borders.

Cheers, Douglas Stockdale

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March 23, 2018

Laia Abril – On Abortion

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 8:09 am

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Artist: Laia Abril (born & resides Barcelona, Spain)

Published by Dewi Lewis Publishing, UK, 2018

Text: English

Hard cover, sewn binding, four-color and duotone lithography, printed by Grafiche dell’Artiere, Bologna (IT)

Photobook designer: Laia Abril, Ramon Pez

Notes: The extended title of Laia Abril’s new book is A History of Misogyny, Chapter One, On Abortion and the Repercussions of Lack of Access, which is a bit more informative as to her extended photojournalist investigation. The key word is repercussions, as she provides ample evidence of how over the years many women have suffered extensively due to their reproductive capabilities.

Abril has not shy’d from this thorny inter-continental and multilayered cultural, political and religious land-mine like subject. Abril and her co-designer Ramon Pez have incorporated this multi-layering theme into the design of the book which incorporates narrow interior pages that create overlapping pages. These narrow pages when turned  then reveal additional text and images to further inform the reader. The book design reinforces their narrative as to state; nothing is very easy or as straight forward as it might first appear.

In her earlier book The Epilogue, she weaved sharply delineated family archive photographs of her subject in with her own documentary style photographs, while in this book the archive photographs of her subject are frequently less defined. In many instances there is only a hint of a potential likeness of her subject, perhaps due to confidentiality.  Nevertheless I find the abstracted portraits to create more visually expansive images and allowing the reader to reflect on their own version of this story. Does it really change the impact of her narrative if we see the actual likeness of someone who has passed away as a result of some botched medical procedure or social/cultural taboo?

This book is a call to action and the subject is still extremely slippery, while she makes a strong case that we as a society need to reexamine many of our cultural and moral beliefs as to these difficult situations for women.

Other photobooks by Laia Abril featured on The PhotoBook Journal: The Epilogue and Thinspiration

Cheers

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