The PhotoBook Journal

January 22, 2019

Seiichi Furuya – Warum Dresden

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Seiichi Furuya – Warum Dresden (Why Dresden), copyright 2017

Photographer: Seiichi Furuya (born Izu, Shizuoka Japan, lives in Graz, Austria)

Published by Spector Books Leipzig, Germany

Stiff Cover, thread-sewn, 192 pages,  black-white and color photographs, 18cm x 24cm.

Text: German

Esssay: Manfred Wiemer

Designer: Helmut Völter

Notes:  The Japanese photographer Seiichi Furuya arrived in Dresden in 1984 with his wife and then three-year-old son. Today Furuya could be considered as one of the rare authors bringing up a coherent photographical work about the life during the 1980’s in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR).  At the end of 2017 Furuya published this photography book, Warum Dresden (English: Why Dresden), which can also be read as a narrative about Dresden at this current time.

Three narrative threads are delicately interwoven one after the other. In the first one, Furuya has photographed everything in Dresden that seemed striking to his Japanese eye: bridges, squares, parks, the Elbe – which flows through the city and significantly shapes the its identity through its width and distinctive hue.

A second narrative thread captures all the various constellations of Dresden people in their everyday lives: walking, going to work, with their families, as citizens of Dresden, who are at home in an almost impossibly beautiful landscape. In a third thread, Furuya documents his wife and son as a small unit of a family in a foreign location.

The book title, Warum Dresden, invokes a deeper reflection into its meaning.  When Furuya revisited Dresden after more than 30 years in 2015, Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident) was founded as a right-wing citizens’ alliance in the city, which opposed the often xenophobic slogans of the national politics at the time. Furuya photographed this Pegida alliance and has added these images at the end of the book. Furuya is wondering why this alliance continues to flourish in Dresden? He has always praised the city as an idyllic landscape – a city that, in its individual beauty, faces an uncertain future influenced by so many external forces, both from the past with the World War II, communism, reunification and now the present.

Review – Kristin Dittrich, Director, Shift School for contemporary Photography, Dresden, Germany

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January 18, 2019

Tema Stauffer – UPSTATE

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Photographer: Tema Stauffer

Born: Durham North Carolina, currently resides in Tennessee

Publisher: Daylight Books, Chapel Hill, NC, copyright 2018

Foreword by Xhenet Aliu and essay by Alison Nordstrom

Language: English

Hardcover, Cloth bound sewn, 84 pages, 33 color photographs, printed by OFSET YAPIMEVI, Turkey

Photobook Designer: Ursula Damm

Notes: Upon opening UPSTATE for the first time, this reviewer was immediately taken back to her own years spent living in the Hudson Valley while attending Bard College. Not only because the subject of Tema Stauffer’s new work is the nearby city of Hudson and the surrounding landscape, but because Stauffer’s visual approach is in comfortable alignment with the work of seminal photographer Stephen Shore and the photography department he has directed at Bard since 1982. Thus while some photo books offer a glimpse into worlds we can never ourselves experience, the landscape and palette of UPSTATE felt so familiar that it has taken a bit of time to put into words the pleasure of this fine body of work.

Especially after reading the excellent essays that bookend Stauffer’s beautiful images. Novelist Xhenet Aliu does an outstanding job of providing context for the recent changes in Hudson, a once mighty industrial city which has become the weekend darling destination of monied Manhattanites. Photo historian Alison Nordstom’s essay references Stauffer’s work in the context of Hudson River painters, the New Topographics “school” of photography, Edward Hopper, and even the Japanese concept of Natsukashii, which loosely translated means nostalgia for something that no longer exists. The quality of writing in these essays complements the quality of Stauffer’s images and thus there is little one can add, other than to share an individual experience of spending time with this must-have book.

For those who are familiar with the work of photographer Gregory Crewdson one might find some similarity in the settings of UPSTATE. However, this reviewer prefers Stauffer’s approach, which is non-fictional, honoring the truth of a real place rather than using it as backdrop for expensive cinematic narratives.

The design of UPSTATE also differs significantly from another recently published (and potential companion piece) photo-book, UPSTATE GIRLS by Brenda Ann Kenneally, which focuses on the chaotic lives of low income inhabitants of nearby Troy New York, and is thus presented in collage-like journalistic manner.  In UPSTATE, Stauffer concentrates more on the architecture of a beautiful yet changing landscape, focusing on fields, winter light, abandoned buildings, and further evidence of blue-collar lives in which the hardware store is more important than the newest knitting store serving six dollar lattes. Thankfully, nothing found in UPSTATE, be they interiors or streetscapes, feels artificial.

There are many pleasures to this book of 33 color images, particularly if one appreciates fine printing and singular 8×10 images with clean white borders filling an entire page, complemented with blank white pages that allow Stauffer’s formal images to breathe, as if on a gallery wall.

However, experiencing these images presented in book form offers the viewer a chance to appreciate not only Stauffer’s eye for detail and active frame lines, but also her meditation on the subtle power of color. The opening image “River’s Edge” offers complementary tones of blues and yellow via steel grey buildings and farming equipment, and is then answered by a distant red door in the following image “Furgary Shacks.” Picking up on the musicality of Stauffer’s color sense makes UPSTATE a fun book to spend time with. As with themes which rise and diminish throughout a musical suite, UPSTATE offers the viewer a delightful dance between cool tones of winter and exciting pops of warmth; some found in nature, some created by man.

A minuet of red returns in the collar of “Reggie” (a portrait of a distinguished yet paint splattered gentleman), crescendos in the following image aptly titled “Red House”, finally diminishing yet still heard in the geometric lines of houses on “Cross Street.” Stauffer’s melodic images return to blues and yellows of “Rear Bedroom” and continues through the next four photographs, then red chimes back in with the appearance of Sumac trees, reaching a masterful pitch with the vinyl seats and ketchup bottle in the Elizaville “Diner”. The passepied of this passage can be found in the blue eyes and pinkish flesh of the bare-chested “Mike”, one of only three portraits contained in the book. The polonaise of “Allen Street” and “White Car” evoke the architectural work of Walker Evans and the time-stamping inclusion of vehicles found throughout Stephen Shore’s UNCOMMON PLACES. These two elements are successfully united with the inclusion of “Brown Dodge”.

Though these gorgeous 8×10 images can be appreciated formally, there are also traces of humor, best seen in “Interior, Furgary Shack #6.” For those who study the very edges of the frame, a game we lovers of large format photography can’t help but play, pay attention to the wall art in the background. Rarely does a photograph make you laugh out loud. This one did.

Throughout UPSTATE, Tema Stauffer shares her gift of seeing the inherent beauty of what is, and what was.

A subtle symphony of images, UPSTATE is a gorgeous collection of work. Highly Recommend.

Enjoy! – Melanie Chapman

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January 16, 2019

Ikuru Kuwajima – Tundra Kids

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Photographer:  Ikuru Kuwajima (born in Japan; lives in Moscow, Russia)

Publisher:  Schlebrügge.Editor, Vienna, Austria; © 2015

Texts:  Introduction; folktale “How the mighty eagle returned the sun to the Nenets people”

Languages:  Nenets, English, German

Stiff covers leporello (accordion) foldout; 83 pages with 58 color images; 16 x 16 cm; printed in Austria by Rema Print Wien (Vienna)

Photobook Design:  Ikuru Kuwajima, Dorothea Brunialti

 

Notes:  Every once in a while we see a photobook that hits all the right spots. In Tundra Kids, Ikuru Kuwajima, a multicultural photographer – born in Japan, studied in the United States, and now lives in Russia – has successfully created a book that shows us a minority at the edge of “civilization” through the eyes of their children. They pose for portraits in their schoolrooms and in their rugged northern arctic Russian environment, and show us their perceptions through everyday objects, toys, and drawings, as well as with a native folk tale with a nod to Soviet influence.

It is a real pleasure to handle this photobook of 83 pages of color work, presented in leporello* (accordion) foldout style, printed on both sides. The effect is to create a continuity of images and subjects which, while linear, is more flexible than a conventionally bound book. You can pick up the whole sequence of images, turn them, look at both sides, and view many more than a couple of images at the same time. We get a feeling of interconnectedness as we view the enthusiasm and cooperation of the children who are learning about the big world out there, against the backdrop of their Nomad home areas, in which they spend the rest of their year when school is out.

Images include portraits of the kids joyfully posing in a studio setting created in their classroom; they show us such things as their tents and reindeer antlers, glimpses of their native environment to which they seem proudly connected as they are gaining a global understanding. It is the artwork they share with us that also lets us wonder about how they may maintain their identity in a faster-moving larger context so dominated by helicopters and planes and other forms of intrusion, in contrast to their natural home settings.

A wonderful book that lets us share a different world. Kudos to the Nenets kids and Ikuru Kuwajima!

*The leporello folding of paper, in an accordion-like fashion as shown below, is derived from the character Leporello in Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, who, for comic effect, customarily is performed displaying a long list of his employer’s conquests on a long piece of paper folded in that manner. Note another effective use of this method of photobook presentation in Douglas Stockdale’s Middle Ground, which I reviewed in The PhotoBook Journal previously.

Gerhard Clausing

 

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January 15, 2019

PhotoLA and Medium Festival – panel discussion and workshop events

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book-dummy, Guide to Self-publishing an Indie Artist Book, 2017 copyright Douglas Stockdale

I am very excited to announce my participation at two up coming photobook events; a photobook panel discussion at PhotoLA on February 3rd and a book design workshop with the Medium Festival on March 23 and 24th in San Diego.

PhotoLA – Photobook Roundtable: From Gallery Walls to Printed Pages; 11:30 – 1:30pm

I will be joining Richard Chow (moderator), Aline Smithson, Dotan Saguy and Khodr Cherri for a photobook panel discussion. Collectively we have a broad and diverse set of photobook experiences, as authors, self-publishers, book designers and printing.

Panel Discussion: 11:30 – 1:30pm, Sunday, February 3rd, 2019

PhotoLA event location: Barker Hanger, 3021 Airport Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90405

PhotoLA Information for registration and more: here.

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Medium Festival – Developing a Creative Photo Book

I will be leading a two-day book design workshop in San Diego with the Medium Festival:

This two-day Workshop is an opportunity for artists and photographers currently working on or planning to start a project that will result in a book publication. Whether you plan to make book submissions to a publisher or self-publish your artist book, this workshop is meant to help you create a book that meets your vision.

The goal of this workshop is to discuss each photographer’s vision, mission and objectives for the publication of a photographic project and then to gain an understanding of how these conceptual aspects translate into a book object. Fundamental to the book development process is learning aspects of the editing, sequencing of the body of photographs and in the context of a book design to shape and narrate a story. The purpose of this workshop is to provide photographers with the building blocks to move from a complex unorganized mass of images into a refined edit and subsequently sequence to create a pre-visualization of their book concept.

Space is limited. Time to register is now.

Workshop: March 23 – 24, 2019, 9am – 4pm

Location: Lafayette Hotel & Swim Club

Address: 2223 El Cajon Blvd. San Diego, CA 92104

Let me know if you have any questions about either of these two events.

Cheers!

Douglas

January 10, 2019

John Divola – Vandalism

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John Divola – Vandalism, 2018

Artist/Photographer: John Divola (born Los Angeles, resides Riverside, California) (USA)

Publisher: MACK (UK)

Without essays, pagination or captions

Text: English

Hardcover book with embossed paper cover, sewn binding, four-color lithography, printed by EBS (Italy)

Photobook designer: Ben Seeley

Notes: This retrospective monograph that explores one of John Divola’s urban landscapeprojects created between 1974 and 1975 while finishing his MFA at UCLA (1974). His practice was a form of what today we would call “staged photography”; creating (spray painting) structures and staging events for the single purpose of being photographed, which a photographic print is the end product. For this series, the photographs were monochromatic black and white. Divola would later follow this series with Zuma Beach, in 1977, similar in staging, but photographed in color.

To place Divola’s body of work in perspective at this time in the early to mid-1970’s was the artistic practice of the Abstract Expressionist and Color Field artists; Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Adolph Gottlieb, Helen Frankenthaler, Ellsworth Kelly and at UCLA, Richard Diebenkorn. The photographer Aaron Siskind was working on his “After Franz Kline” series starting in 1973 through 1975, photographing “found art” that were graphic black and white studies that channeled the similar graphic abstract paintings of Franz Kline.

Although this book does not contain any text that provides the context for this body of work, a minimalist book in its own right, I was fortunate to hear Divola’s Medium Festival presentation last October in San Diego during which he placed this project within his larger body of work. Essentially a twenty-something year old guy who was tagging the interior of some abandon structures with an informed artistic twist.

His painting style due to the use of spray paint cans is very loose versus something tighter that would result from use brushes and acrylic or oil paint. Like other Abstract Expressionist, the over-spray, heavy applications that might create run-off drips and lines, was a source of relatively uncontrolled serendipity. He selected a silver spray paint that had a kind of visual luminance when photographed that contrasted with the dense black spray paint applications.

His “canvas” or work medium was another element of serendipity; the structure and surface textures of the found walls varied and there maybe some pre-existing damage or structures to interact with. On occasion Divola introduced some sculptural elements, using nails, string and other objects to create lines and patterns to work with. Likewise, he introduced his flying books (or magazines) that after the painting work was completed, to then fling a book or magazine into the frame and attempt to capture its wild flight. An act in his attempt to explore dynamic serendipity as another element of chance in his staging; just to see what might happen.

Looking at his photographs I sense the current mood at the time (thinking back to the CalArts presentations); a desire to be anti-modernism and against everything of the grand West Coast landscape photography of Adams, Weston and others of the f/64 in which the framing of the subject was studied for every little element. The edges of Divola’s photographs have odd elements and the subjects are “unbalanced” compositions pushing a visual rawness as to celebrate entropy, havoc and messiness. To introduce “real life” into to an image in which things are not perfectly ordered, e.g. picture-perfect in the advertising age.

Cheers,

Douglas

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January 2, 2019

Louis Jay – Passing Fancies

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 5:11 pm

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Photographer:  Louis Jay (born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; lives in Miami and Paris)

Publisher:  Luce Press, Miami, Florida; © 2018

Essay:  Introduction by the photographer

Languages:  English and French

Cloth-bound sewn hardback with printed dust cover, in cloth-covered case; 11 x 14.25 inches; 84 pages with pagination; 64 black-and-white duotone photographs and a complete location index; processed and printed in Italy by Litho Art, Turin, and Stamperia Artistica Nazionale, Trofarello

Photobook Designer:  Sally Ann Field

 

Notes:  It is a pleasure to start 2019 with the presentation of such an attractive large-format photobook. Louis Jay, who worked as a commercial photographer for many years, has returned to his early love of photographing on the street, without succumbing to the clichés of street photography, but supplying streetscapes that let us share astute observations from several locales around the world. This project clearly sparkles, as passionate interest and affection shine through, an approach to photography he learned from Lisette Model many years ago.

Passing Fancies contains 64 images that were created in France, Italy, Portugal, Brazil, and Florida. Most of these areas share a milder climate and perhaps a greater affinity to being outdoors. So we see city life, people of all ages, old and new structures and symbols, moments of work and leisure. This project has a certain indefinable allure, enhanced not only by the quality of the photography and the printing, but also by the large format and the extraordinarily dynamic and creative pairings and continuity.

This photobook makes you want to go back and look at it again and again, a sign of special quality. It is a marvelous study of the delights of everyday moments and thus a tribute to the universality of human experience!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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December 21, 2018

Jonas Yip and Wai-lim Yip – Somewhere Between

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 2:16 pm

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Photographer:  Jonas Yip (born in Princeton, New Jersey; lives in Los Angeles, California)

Poetry by Wai-lim Yip; essays by Leo Ou-fan Lee and Wai-lim Yip

Languages:  English and Chinese

Publisher:  National Taiwan University Press, Taipei, Taiwan; © 2017

Stiff cover sewn book; 350 pages with pagination; 15.5 x 21.5 cm; 80+ duotone and color images with poetry

 

Notes:  Many of us have more than one national and ethnic background, and some of our derivation may be recognizable from our physical appearance, habits, or knowing more than one language, and familiarity with more than one culture. Some of us have a sense of affinity to several different cultural worlds at the same time; we live in one and have the other in our hearts and minds, to whatever extent possible. As one who belongs to such a group, I have a special appreciation for the work of the talented photographer Jonas Yip and his renowned father, the poet, translator, and scholar Wai-lim Yip.

It is the task of multicultural individuals to combine the best of each world that they belong to into a feeling of having an existence “somewhere between.” When such individuals are creative, they are able to engage in visualizations and musings and analyses that are cross-functional and cross-cultural, and a fascinating photobook with mysterious visuals and poetry, such as the present one, can result. This is a quest that may also get you involved in longing to belong.

Jonas Yip creatively photographs impressions. Whether he is in Paris, in California, or in China, there is a modern pictorial quality to his depiction of moments and moods, markers and symbols. These powerful images in turn inspire Wai-lim Yip to write poetry, in Chinese and English. The subtitle of this book is “Toward the Middle Space Between Images and Words,” and we do indeed find ourselves enchanted by the fruits of their collaboration.

Fleeting moments are illustrated in a dream-like manner, and the verbal stimuli and thoughts that use the images as points of departure transport us into a realm of memories and shared human values in a gracefully integrated way. We share feelings and thoughts, impressions and opinions, a world that takes us into ambiguity, as all great art should; the presentations marked by many “indecisive moments” are an invitation to lose ourselves in these multi-faceted realms. We are thus privileged to participate in the authors’ mutually inspired travel through time and cultural settings, with all the memories, recognition, and surprises that they may offer.

The visuals/poems sections are divided into four parts – Paris Dialogues, Paris Meditations, A Fertile Darkness, and Memories Displaced. While the first three sections contain duotone images, the last section, photographed in China, contains color work, with tones that are somewhat muted, as if to suggest a more gentle approach to wondrous subjects, a lighter, more tentative touch. Poetry accompanies all sections and is inspiring and thought-provoking.

The preface by Leo Ou-fan Lee is entitled “Seeking Forgotten Time and History Among Trembling Light and Shadows” and eloquently sets the tone for viewing and reading this innovative book. Providing a strong background for the study of these collaborative projects, there are two extensive essays by Wai-lim Yip, a foreword and an afterword. These offer a thorough scholarly overview of contexts and connections – historical, literary and philosophical, personal and international, well worth a careful study. All poetry and all essays are presented in English and Chinese, and there are many gems to be discovered.

I spent several months pondering this book, and I must say that the Yip team has succeeded in producing an engrossing experience. I find myself opening it again and again! Also available as a set with an original print. Highly recommended!

Gerhard Clausing

 

 

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December 19, 2018

Tobias Kruse – Material

Filed under: Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books, Photographers — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 4:13 pm

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Photographer: Tobias Kruse, born Mecklenburg and residing Berlin, Germany

Publisher: Kerber Verlag Berlin/Nürnberg, Germany

Text(s): German and English

Softcover, Width: 17cm x Length: 24cm, bound, 42 places, 35 people, 216 pages

Design: Neue Gestaltung Berlin

Notes: Berlin is a hot spot where the good life is lived, toasted, and celebrated. But truth be told, the strong art making of my generation (ages 35 to 45) in Berlin today leaves much to be desired. I see many people looking for the meaning of life in Berlin, as well as that of their own individual lives. Perhaps the contrast between the once divided city and the Berliners who live there today is so strong, creating art with meaning might be quite a complicated task within Berlin itself. Good Berlin art is created outside of Berlin, on trips, or on the outskirts of the city, in the surrounding areas.

Tobias Kruse has lived as a photographer in Berlin for 20 years and has now published his first photography book called “Material” . The title is pointedly provocative right off the bat. Don’t we dream of photography books that form a narrative out of a clever assembly and sequence of images, thereby taking the reader on a journey that unfolds through fine observations of perceptions? As a reader of this book, you want to see more than just material. But our senses are obscured. The author works with a reserved title, but once one begins reading, an explosion of thoughts and emotions erupt around life, life in one’s late 30s.

It turned out to be a dense book, about the situation of the author himself. Kruse came to Berlin 10 years ago to train professionally as a photographer at the Ostkreuz Photography School in Berlin. He studied under Arno Fischer – the Henri Cartier Bresson of the former GDR – in the last years of Fischer’s life. He was thereby brought up in the milieu of East German humanist documentary photography and has developed his own visual language over the years.

Few artists succeed in already developing their own visual language at such a young age. Again and again, Kruse’s peers can be seen in all facets of young life, confronted with dreams, the search for happiness, often together, and then alone again. They are images of being at home in Berlin, travelling around the country, encounters in Europe in Arles, Athens, and Tel Aviv. The pictures in the book become a kind of rush of life: its blooming, its transience. Out of this community of friends over many years, a family has emerged. Kruse dedicates the book to his children, Karl and Carla, who also appear frequently in the book.

Why should you buy this book? Because Kruse is one of the exceptionally strong gifted artists of the younger generation to come out of the environment of the Ostkreuz School and Agency. Because it has turned out to be a book that describes the attitude to life of a generation that was born in the ‘70s, grew up in the ‘90s, and have now become the generation on whom society has pinned its hopes. Hopefully, we will be seeing and hearing a lot more about Kruse’s personal work in the future.

Review – Kristin Dittrich, Director Shift School for contemporary Photography, Dresden, Germany

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December 14, 2018

Josue Rivas – Standing Strong

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Photographer: Josue Rivas (born Mexico, residing in Portland, Oregon)

Publisher: FotoEvidence Press, Brooklyn NY, Copyright 2018

Afterword: Winona LaDuke

Text: English

Stiff Cover, Swiss Binding on Left and Right Sides, open at center, 56 images, 74 pages, Printed by Ofset Yapimevi, Istanbul, Turkey

Design: Bonnie Briant Design, NYC

Notes: As many photo-book collectors may agree, each book has its own personality. Some are small and intimate, some large and comprehensive. Some offer confection for the eyes, some serve to feed the mind. The more one spends time with STANDING STRONG, the new book of black and white photographs by Josue Rivas, the more one can appreciate how special it is. Both personal and with the potential to educate, STANDING STRONG is a compelling opportunity to not only view documentary images of the Water Protectors fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but if one is so inclined, to open oneself to an alternative understanding of humanity’s relationship to the earth.

STANDING STRONG is the 2018 publication of the FotoEvidence Book Award in partnership with World Press Photo.  For those not already familiar with FotoEvidence, it is “a platform for documentary photographers whose work focuses on human rights and social justice.”  Documenting the David vs. Goliath dynamic of the 2016-17 protests to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline from being built on First Nations land (South Dakota) and under essential sources of fresh water, STANDING STRONG is a worthy choice for this year’s selection.

The small but impactful book feels good to hold in your hands, and certainly makes the case for presenting work in a physical form rather than scrolling through images on a computer screen.As an object, perhaps the first thing you will discover is the unique use of Swiss binding. Rather than a traditionally bound book which starts at page one and progresses in a linear fashion from front to back cover, STANDING STRONG opens at the center and the pages turn outward on both the left and right sides. Thus the experience of STANDING STRONG feels more interactive.

While there is clear correlation to how one page relates to the next, the binding allows the reader to experience the spirit of interconnectedness that Rivas describes on the final pages of the book:  ” Many tribes in Turtle Island (North America) believe in the interconnectedness of the natural world, the cosmos, the four legged and the two legged…I would like to acknowledge those that came before me and the land that I’m standing on. I pray that they receive this book as an offering and my words as a testimony to the resilience of my ancestors. I acknowledge you, the reader, and want to thank you for taking the time to explore these images and opening your heart to the movement to protect the water.”

Divided into sections such as WELCOME HOME, GIVING THANKS, PRAYING FOR THE PEOPLE, PRAYING FOR HEALING, the viewer is invited to experience the risks taken by the Water Protectors, from their point of view. Through his straight-forward shooting style, Rivas offers a tangible sense of being on the land, among people who are OF the land. The first image, a painterly vista of canoes paddling under dramatic white clouds, provides context. This is followed by a more heartbreaking landscape intersected by barbed wire, thus the viewer is immediately pulled in and held back simultaneously. Finely observed detail shots reveal muddy ankles at the river’s edge, as well as a tribal Elder facing the sun in prayer, his feather headdress and beaded fringe jacket intrinsically linked to the plains on which he sits. Close-ups of Tipi poles and Indigenous Resistance flags intermingle with wide-angle views of burning barricades. In an interesting reversal of old Western movie tropes, First Nation protesters cross the river toward rows of armed Federal guards silhouetted on the ridge-top. Fire-smoke arising from Tipis in winter, and a dark-clothed figure bundled up against the falling snow, help the viewer feel how harsh the elements became and how strong the commitment was among the hundreds and then thousands of First Nation people and their supporters.

As the months progressed, the Standing Rock protests became more dangerous following the environmental policy reversal of the new Trump Administration. Government forces sent in to protect corporate interests grew substantially in size and degree of weaponry. In a particularly telling progression of images, the grimace of Federal trooper as he sprays tear gas at protesters crossing the river is followed by the pained expression of a young woman who has just been gassed.

In the final months of transition from the Obama Administration to that of an even more Fossil-Fuel friendly Trump Administration, the Dakota Access protests briefly captured the country’s interest and risked becoming a trendy cause celebre, a scenic backdrop to an on-going power struggle over rights and resources. Though some images hint at the growing mass of supporters from elsewhere who preferred/required the warmth of a trailers and RVs, there are no photographs of the celebrities and public figures who came to Standing Rock, to show their support and draw necessary media attention with their presence. Thankfully, STANDING STRONG does not feel like the work of an outsider looking in, and thus avoids the risk of cultural appropriation. One can easily sense Rivas’ familiarity with and deep appreciation for the subject he documents. His focus throughout remains on the people for whom this land is and always will be sacred.

Though STANDING STRONG as a book is light in weight, the body of work is anything but lightweight, particularly if one knows that ultimately the pipeline was approved, the protesters evicted, and oil began flowing under the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and through ancient burial grounds in May of 2017.

In addition to the photographs, STANDING STRONG includes a few intimate drawings, and occasional blank white pages which allow the viewer to breathe between images, and again enjoy the unconventional manner in which they are presented. Additionally, text by Winona Laduke offers context on what it means “TO BE A WATER PROTECTOR”.

As described on his website, Josue Rivas “is a visual storyteller and educator working at the intersection of art, journalism, and social justice. His work aims to challenge the mainstream narrative about Indigenous peoples, build awareness about issues affecting Native communities across Turtle Island, and be a visual messenger for those in the shadows of our society.”

With the well-deserved recognition of FotoEvidence, Josue Rivas has succeeded in his mission. Whether you find this to be a heartbreaking story or reflective of a dignified people’s valiant efforts, STANDING STRONG is indeed an offering in a time of reckoning.  Very worth seeking out and adding to your collection.

Enjoy! Melanie Chapman

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December 12, 2018

Andreas Herzau – AM

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Photographer:  Andreas Herzau (born in Mainz, Germany; lives in Hamburg, Germany)

Publisher:  Nimbus. Kunst und Bücher, Wädenswil, Switzerland; © 2018

Stiff cover book (partial front cover) with French fold pages and “Blockbuch” binding; 108 pages with 55 monochrome images; 20.5 x 27.5 cm; printed and bound in Germany by Gulde Druck (Tübingen) and Josef Spinner (Ottersweier) respectively

Texts: Andreas Herzau; Baudrillard and Barthes quotes

Languages:  German and English

Photobook Designer:  Andreas Herzau

 

Notes:  Angela Merkel is certainly one of the wonders of the 21st century. As the first female German Chancellor, she wields her power in a rather unassuming and dutiful manner, without much of the pomp and swagger that marks other leaders. Photographs taken of her, for the most part, are marked by a certain predictable sameness that reflects that predictable style of leadership.

Andreas Herzau certainly has changed our view of her by providing a refreshingly innovative look at the wherewithal of the publicly visible leadership that characterizes this fascinating politician. With a distinguished record of photographic projects that shed new light on things and transgress traditional photojournalistic boundaries, in this photobook he is providing us with a creative new look at a subject we thought we already knew.

He observed and photographed Angela Merkel’s public appearances from 2009 to 2017. What makes the result of his labors particularly interesting is his astute observations that relate not only to the central figure, but especially also to the surroundings, the contexts with which the figure interacts in a continual public drama of appearances. We see partial shots of her, very many shots of hands in the process of building connections, and both limelight and shadow of events as they transpire. When have we ever seen a shot of her head from the back? Since politics lends itself to humor, there are quite a few amusing juxtapositions as well.

It wouldn’t be a Herzau project if this photobook did not also break new ground in its physical form. The images are all printed in what the publisher calls “duplex” fashion, on sheets folded inward (French fold), as shown in the sample illustrations below. This allows the reader to bend open sheets printed with a single image on such a folded-back sheet to experience an ongoing visual and physical narrative, even to play with the images by bending the opened fold to be amused by some distortion. The result is a certain 3D effect that makes the pages of the book come alive. This manner of presentation also gives the viewer a sense of surprise and adventure, since such a photobook allows some participation by the viewer. There are also a few flaming-red pages with quotes tying the photographs to philosophical thoughts. These inserted sheets are in the color of the SPD, the political party that has been both her opposition as well as her “Grand Coalition” partner at various times during her tenure as Chancellor.

An exciting photographic viewing adventure, sure to become a collector’s item. Highly recommended!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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