The PhotoBook

October 30, 2010

Jasper Howard – Photo Books International

Filed under: Photo Book Stores — Doug Stockdale @ 6:54 pm


Jasper Howard Copyright 2010 Douglas Stockdale

Located near the heart of London is a quaint and almost quintessential London book seller, but with a wonderful focus that is exclusively on photobooks. This is a small, well organized and run book shoppe, just as I have imagined my distant relative John Stockdale, publisher and bookseller of Piccadilly in the late 1700’s in London. Photo Books International (BPI) is a 13 year joint venture between Jasper Howard (above) and Bill Herbert. I had the opportunity to drop into their tidy and very well stocked shoppe and was immediately lost among the potentialities. Their inventory is extensive and decently priced. And yes, very recommended!

Not evident are the three books I left with, the Roni Horn’s 2000 stiff-cover edition of PI, Mona Kuhn’s 2004 hard-cover edition of Mona Kuhn Photographs (completing my collection of her three published by Steidl and I will soon be reviewing the series) and Jock Struges 1991 stiff-cover edition of The Last Days of Summer. I was self-limited by what I could carry during the remainder of my current trip.

While discussing with Jasper about his shoppe and his observations about the state of photobooks, he did mention that they were still interested in purchasing photobooks. If you are interested in selling your photobooks, please first send him an email of what titles and condition before dropping in with the over-stuffed bag. Since his inventory is large, he is interested in filling in his missing spaces. And yes, it seems he knows where every title is lurking within the store.

This was my first visit to London and I will have to say, when I return again, PBI will be on my short list of places to revisit.

Best regards, Douglas

Update: Photo Books International is now closed. I had heard rumors of this, but as noted in one of the comments below, it is now a fact. I also realized that the portrait of Howard was really terrible regarding the color balance, so it needed a do-over and update, above. Now Howard is looking pretty good.

October 24, 2010

Harvey Benge – Birds

Copyright Harvey Benge  2010 courtesy of the photographer

Harvey Benge’s latest self published photobook (perhaps termed a zine) Birds is brief, elegant and subtly philosophical. Benge provides a brief background story for this slim narrative; that the photographs were made on one day from the deck of a ferry near Auckland Harbour and the photographs were made on the afternoon of a Thursday in April.

The five color photographs, each of the photographs spanning the two page spread, capture a flock of birds in flight. The identity of the specific bird species remains ambiguous, as the birds are flying far from the photographer who appears to be more interested in the broader perspective of this sky-scape. From the series, we can determine that they fly in a V-shaped pattern and these birds appear to have a profile similar to my memory of US game birds, that of a duck or goose.

Due to the brevity of this photobook, it reads more like a short poem, with a number of interpretative variations. One alternative reading is that this is a narrative about a group of family and friends who are on a “road trip”. They have the freedom to freely move about, living off the land, to literally see the world, soaring through the sky as they are. Wouldn’t it be really nice to have that type of freedom?

This is also a narrative about the social patterns we develop, the sense of culture that becomes instilled in a group of people, the memory of history that becomes ingrained and passed from generation to generation. The birds fly in this pattern for a reason that is probably only really known by them. If they are on a migratory route, it probably is so engrained from an ancient memory so that the need to make this journey is so hard-wired, they may have little to no cognitive choice. Suggesting that the cultural patterns of behavior we have are also being passed from generation to generation.

If indeed these are ducks or geese, we recognize that these birds are also considered game birds, pursued by not only other animals but by the most dangerous of hunters, mankind. Our knowledge of their potential plight provides a bittersweet tinge to this narrative, that these birds may be unknowingly flying towards imminent danger. The same migratory instinct will also take them repeatability near known hunting sites, where men will be lying in wait with shotguns and retriever dogs.B

By no means is the last reading about the abstract patterns that groups of birds and other social animals create, that evolve in real-time. From the infinitive number of variations that is occurring, Benge has selected these five. The dark flecks of birds providing an indistinct but slightly recognizable pattern framed on the background sea of blue, gray and white. The photographs start with a tight and recognizable V pattern, but slowly evolve in the five sequences into an almost straight line. We can recognize that this results as the visual perspective changes relative to the bird’s flight and the position of the ferry that Benge is photographing from. That patterns change, morph and what we may see at one point in time, may not be a good indication of all the possibilities of the design in space.

Birds is a self published photobook in a limited edition of 50, with stiff covers and bound with a saddle stitch.

by Douglas Stockdale

October 23, 2010

Samantha Casolari – Ode to Steet Hassle & Untitled, Nevada 2007

Filed under: Photo Book NEWS, Photo Books — Doug Stockdale @ 9:54 am

Samantha Casolari – photobook wrap > “ODE TO STREET HASSLE (THE BOYS ARE KEEPING SECRETS) / untitled, nevada 2007

When I received Samantha Casolari’s first published book just before my last departure to Europe, I was left in a quandary, the packaging of the book was so wonderful, I could not bear to open it. It is a beautiful object that deserves to be preserved and reminded me of one of the more interesting principles of quantum mechanics (Heisenberg’s Uncertainty  Principal);  the more precisely one property is measured, the less precisely the other can be measured. Expressed in a more philosphical way, when you come to a fork in the road, you have to make a choice and proceed, and understand that you will not know very much about the path not taken. 

Which for me is that I can either admire the book’s wrapped presentation as an object or I can cut the twine binding so that I can admire the photobook and the interior photographs; I have to make a choice, as it is one or the other. One part of my attempt to understand why I have not opened this book wrap yet is perhaps best stated by Bertrand Russell; “The observer, when he seems to be observing as stone, is really, if physics is to be believed, observing the effects of the tone upon himself“.

One aspect of the digital age is the opportunity to find alternative sources of information, and in this case, Casolari’s web site in which she features interior images from this book. So as a tease for the subsequent review when I resolve this quandary (a photobook reviewer does need to read the actual book) are some intriging and mysterious images, below, from the book’s untitled/Nevada 2007.

Best regards, Douglas

October 15, 2010

Douglas Stockdale – Milan Fashion Week

Filed under: Photo Books — Doug Stockdale @ 10:22 pm


Milan Fashion Week  all photographs Copyright Douglas Stockdale

If you were wondering what I have been doing as of late with my recent lack of photobook updates, this can be traced to a burning desire for me to complete a photo-project that I had initiated late last year, titled Milan Fashion Week.

I have just completed the development and sequencing of my project, Milan Fashion Week, which is currently available in a blog style photobook layout. More about this conceptual presentation in just a moment. BTW, what follows is not your normal photographic artistic statement, I am just not up to that today. And of course, I am not going to attempt to review my own work, it is difficult enough to create your own work, least try figure out what it means to me or you, so for this project, I will gladly leave that task to others. So if you have been on the receiving end of my reviews, you might say this is your turn!

First, if you have not been following my project’s progression on Singular Images, my personal photo-blog, here is the background story. I initially conceived the idea while I was in Milano Italy during Fashion Week in 2009. Since I feel that every good professional photographer should have a fashion portfolio, I decided that this was an excellent time to investigate the fashion industry and develop mine. Milano is the number one fashion city, and Milano’s Fashion Week is also a must for the Fashion industry, so this place and event should give me plenty of raw material to work from. nice. (okay, this is probably the time to provide the sarcasm warning alert, which I hope is self-evident when you review my project).

 After returning to SoCal in October last year and as a result a series of mis-adventures, I placed this project on hold. Occasionally while traveling through Italy this last year, I found myself reacting to some related fashion situations, but it was my trip to Milano last month in September, the month of Fashion Week, which provided me with the opportunity to finish this project.

The initial concept was finding ready-make images that I could then develop as my own, but then the project morphed a little and became a bit of a delightful mash-up.

When I conceived of this project, it was with the intent to publish it, but also a vehicle to explore some other digital and virtual design concepts. Using a blog with some careful forethought about sequencing and design, I crafted a digital version of this project, which might also be considered a virtual photobook dummy. The layout is a vertical strip of photographs that sequences each image by a series of blog posts. That provided me with some additional editing options. By setting the blog defaults, I am able to sequence all 35 images on the blog’s front page, thus the entire project can be sequentially scrolled through its entirety. Perhaps with a slight tilt to the Japanese or Chinese manner of reading from top to bottom than the American-European manner of experiencing a photobook.

Interestingly, this project blog predates the launch of the i-Pad, which I now wonder how this virtual photobook might fit and function on this and similar devices. Just not enough for me to go and invest in one, so if you can look at this blog project on an i-Pad or similar, I would appreciate your comments. please. (or ship me an i-Pad, which would probably be acceptable alternative!)

As a photobook reviewer, it is my intent that at some point this virtual photobook will be published in a hand-held medium, perhaps by myself, perhaps with another publisher. I am open to suggestions;- )

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have,

Best regards, Douglas


October 3, 2010

Claxton Projects – Tom Claxton

Filed under: Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Doug Stockdale @ 3:41 pm

I just received a nice email from Tom Claxton, a London based photographers agent, regarding a Tumblr site (see sidebar update or poke here) that he has established for photobook reviews, which is very nice.

Tom does have a wonderful feature imbedded that provides a mini-slide show for the photographs he has curated from each of the photobooks he features. If you initially see a black box, just wait a few minutes for it to finish loading, it is worth the wait. It probably takes me a little bit longer than most in as I am running on an old machine which is not very ripped and my web feed is an older DSL (which I hope to upgrade to high-speed cable sometime in the next couple of weeks!).

When I read photobook review blogs which have an elegant sentence or short paragraph, I again wonder about my own reviews, which tend to get a bit lengthy. The downside to my process is that I don’t react as quickly to what comes in the mail, so I always seem to be late to the latest news information game. I had an interesting discussion with Marc Feutsel about this when I met up with him in Paris at Laurence Vecten’s flat. We know that photographers (and especially publishers) like to get that initial buzzzz going for a new book, but there is also some value to a little more depth about a photobook that is published later which could put some more legs on a photobook-project. Some photobook projects take a little longer to allow the subtlities to become more apparent and subsequently take on a richer narrative, which I guess is what I am striving for.

What I understand can be frustrating for some, is that by the time they read about a photobook on this blog, a small edition PIY photobooks may no longer available. So I guess the trade-off is that I will continue to publish my reviews when I am ready and this blog will not necessarily be the site of choice for fast breaking photobook news, I will let a few others play the hottest photobook news game.

Meanwhile, please check out Claxton Projects, a very nice place to spend some time enjoying some photobooks and their interior images.

Best regards, Douglas

December 2012 update: Claxton Projects has moved to a new location and can be found here. Beware, the new site does not seem to as compatible with older versions of Internet Explorer.

October 1, 2010

Mark John Ostrowski – Amerikana

Copyright Mark John Ostrowski 2010 Macula de plata, courtesy of the photographer

Amerikanaconcerning or characteristic of America, its civilization, or its culture; broadly, this is typical of America. In a series of photographs, many of which are frequently paired, Mark John Ostrowski provides a series of photographs that places doubt on the ability of any one, or even a series of photographs, to broadly typify a culture. The background story is that Ostrowski was born in America, but moved to Spain many years ago, and has returned to America to investigate memories and a place that is no longer home.

Many of his paired photographs provide contrasting viewpoints to a similar subject and investigates the broad diversity and contradictions that can be found in any culture, least a country as expansive as America. His photographs show in a documentary style the upbeat with the despondent, the light and airy as opposed to the dark and moody situations.  

The first photograph, spanning the two page spread, is the book’s lead in and personally one of my favorites: Central within the frame is a smiling young girl, holding a flag, appearing to be waving with her opposite hand open and showing her palm that appears like a genuine and happy gesture. She is leaning out of the back window of an older model car, with her braided blond hair, decorated with a calico ribbon, which is like her, dangling out the window. She appears young and naive, but yet enthusiast and happy. She could be picture perfect but for the Band-Aid on her forehead, a subtle and hardly noticeable defect that indicates her youth and humanity to have bumped her head sometime recently. But she does not appear to be aware of that previous bruise at this time. She is very aware of the photographer’s camera and is looking unabashed directly into the lens, making full eye contact, as to be fully engaged.

The photograph’s caption states that this is the Memorial Day parade taking place in Lumberton New Jersey and the implication is that this is one of many cars, floats and participants in this celebration parade.

 It is the American flag in this photograph that I believe represents Ostowski viewpoint that his America is now fractured and perhaps a little upside down, as the flag is abstractly represented in two pieces and very much out of a normal context, with the stars in the lower left and the stripes in the upper right. The young girl is holding one flag that has extended out of the left side of the photograph, but the flag’s striped field has returned back into the picture frame. The second part of the flag is attached to a small hand that is extending out from somewhere inside the car, a very mysterious hand. The second part of the flag has only the field of starts visible, with the remaining section of the flag falling down out of the picture frame. Meanwhile, a man who appears to be driving the car is in a mid-smile appears to now glancing back and down at this second flag, or perhaps the photographer whom he just drove by and whom he might have noted was appearing to take photographs.

This photograph of the young girl and flag has a similar connotation to me as the Robert Frank (The Americans) photograph of the older woman who is proudly holding an American flag, but when the photograph is carefully examined, the flag is a bit worn and frayed on the edges. The slightly tattered flag is symbolic that everything is not perfect, nor as well as hoped and desired, that there are some issues and problems lurking on the edges of our culture. And probably any culture for that matter. Thus we are notified that this series of photographs by Ostrowski should be considered in the context of a social commentary.

Ostrowski book’s spreads include the photograph of the upbeat smiling cowgirls in western hats across from a photograph of a darkly lit saloon with what appears is a guy in a western style hat smoking a cigar and holding a bottle of beer, or a house decorated for Halloween opposite the photograph of the long, dark car waiting for the next funeral, or maybe a little bit of levity with the photograph of the tape deck found while digging around at a garage sale opposite the photograph of someone who is digging in their garden. Ostrowski also pairs up photographs of people sitting in benches or a pair of photographs of individuals with their heads bowed down for some unknown reason. He provides two points of view about similar subjects to further underline the diversity and alternative viewpoints that are available while evaluating a culture.

Ostowski’s photographs are but save on color photograph, black and white. The outside borders indicate that the photographs may have been made by either a view camera or medium format camera, but nevertheless of the type of camera, there is spontaneity within the photographs, and usually a direct contact between the photographer and his subject. Ostrowski is a street photographer with a practiced eye for both the humorous as well as the poignant situations and has created an interesting narrative about Amerikana.

The book has stiff covers, duotone printing, photographs are captioned; pages are not numbered, Introductory essay by Antonio Molinero Cardenal with the text provided only in Spanish.

By Douglas Stockdale

September 25, 2010

Laurence Vecten – a conversation

Filed under: Photo Books — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 10:10 pm

Laurence Vecten apartment, Paris copyright Douglas Stockdale 2010

When I found out that I was not going to be in Paris for the PIY (Publish it Yourself) exhibition ealier this month, I had let Laurence Vecten know what I was sending my regrets for not arriving in Paris in time. She in turn responded with an offer to meet at her apartment, as all of the photobooks had not been returned yet. nice!

I had thought that over the years that I had started a number of photographic blogs and venues, but Laurence I belive has me beat, with her own blog (, Lozen up (, the PIY web site (, the One Year ofB ooks ( and Photo Book Swap ( On top of this she has her day job at Paris Glamour. wow!

While we were coordinating our meeting, she also extended an offer to Mark Feustel to join us, which I was very glad he could. This made for a very delightful and wide running conversation about all things related to photobooks and not neccessarily related only to the PIY photobooks. There were appoximately 80 books on exhibition earlier and we realized that it would be impossible to review them all, so she curated a smaller selection for Marc and I to consider. It was very interesting to see the breath in printing styles, papers, covers, binding, layout and designs. This just confirms for me that DIY/PIY is here to stay and getting better and stronger. I came away with a strong feeling that there will be another PIY exhibition sometime in the future.

We had a great conversation and I have to add that Laurence also makes a wonderful fruit cake with just a hint of something alcholic, such that I needed a couple of extra slices for my enjoyment later in the evening back at my hotel. Thank you again Laurence!

Afterwards, Marc walked with me to La Bal, the brand new documentary exhibition space that just opened near by. While at La Bal, I also purchased the current copy of Foam, in which Marc conducted the majority of the interviews for this edition. A nice exhibition of Lewis Balz’s work among others was hanging, so I went to Paris to see photographs of Irvine, which is about 20 minutes from my home in Orange County, CA. Go figure, but remember this is his photographs from the 1970’s and became part of the New Topographics exhibition.

by Douglas Stockdale

BTW in the past, I have been creating informal portraits in conjunction with these conversations, but Laurence’s son was not feeling well and somethings were out of sorts. Instead I created this indirect environmental portrait of her which provides for me the same warm and comfortable feeling that I experienced in her presence.

September 22, 2010

Henrik Saxgren – Unintended Sculptures

Copyright Henrik Saxgren 2009, courtesy Hatje Cantz Verlag  and photo-eye

Henrik Saxgren recent photobook Unintended Scupltures is wonderful reminders why in the rush of my daily life that I need to occasionally take time to pause and just observe. He shares with us that located amongst the various and assorted debris of our day to day world, there exists, waiting to be discovered, a plethora of ready-art to be contemplated and enjoyed.

His documentary style photographs investigate the concept of a found “sculpture” as a three dimensional construct now reduced to an even more abstract two-dimensional plane. This also becomes one of the few weaknesses of his book due to his inclusion of flat two-dimensional objects and natural events, although aesthetically interesting, do not appear to be consistent with his theme, even in the broadest of contemporary definitions of what constitutes a sculpture.

 Of particular interest to me are his found sculptural objects which are extracted and conceptually constructed from his everyday experience. The book’s title implies that objects exist, but as a result of personal observation, we can create a new contextual relationship and meaning, that an object does not become a sculpture until we name it as such. In nature there exists no horizontal line although individuals identify and create such boundaries and a resulting photograph of the land becomes a landscape, something that does not exist in nature.

I find that Saxgren illustrates his ability to frame, extract and isolate natural phenomena, abandoned and decaying sites and other structural objects to discover the potential existence of a narrative that encompasses aesthetic beauty, mystery, fantasy, memory, dreams and personal stories.

His unintended sculptures can be interpreted as autobiographical statements about his reaction to natural and man-kind generated elements that he chooses to place into new juxtapositions, combinations within his altered frameworks. By the determination of his composition and exposure, he coaxes out of space things of his own imagination and I believe inspires us to do the same.

Something unknown is wrapped and bound in cloth and string while sitting on a wooden platform seems mysterious. Saxgren then utilizes that mysterious object to create an ominous narrative in conjunction with the darkening, overcast and gloomy sky, while on the right side within the frame is a dark and barren tree in a sea of brown grasses. Page after page is a series of beguiling images, some are so long and horizontal that they span the entire spread of this wide horizontal book. I occasionally found the color images to be overly saturated although the sharply focused photographs provide for a memorizing study of details. This wide horizontal book, verging on becoming oversize, is very nicely matched to Saxgren’s overly-wide horizontal photographs.

by Douglas Stockdale

September 7, 2010

Japan A Self Portrait – Photographs 1945 – 1964

Copyright the photographers 2004 published by Editions Flammarion, Paris

It was my good fortune to meet up with Marc Feustel, consulting editor and photo-blogger (Eye Curious) in Paris last July to discuss photobooks, Japanese photography and a photobook that he conceptualized, developed and edited; Japan, A Self Portrait: Photographs 1945 – 1964.

  This was not the first survey of Japanese photographers published in English, with earlier editions published by Aperture and MOMA. This is a broad survey to examine the photographs and photographers who were active in the period after World War II up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

 The eleven Japanese photographers who in included this phototbook include Domon Ken (1909 – 1990), Hamaya Hiroshi (1915 – 1999), Hayashi Tadahiko (1918 – 1990), Hosoe Eikoh (b.1933), Ishimoto Yasuhiro (b.1921 SF, USA), Kawada Kikuji (b.1933), Kimura Ihee (Ihei) (1901 – 1974), Nagano Shigeichi (b.1925), Narahara Ikko (b.1931), Tanuma Takeyohsi (b.1929)  and Tomatsu Shomei (b.1930).

These eleven photographs are generally recognized as the creating the post-war photographic foundation for the subsequent generation of Japanese photographers, including those whose work encompass the Provoke and Kompura eras and the others who were active in the mid 1960’s, 1970’s into the 1980’s.

Very few of these photographers were familiar to me thirty years ago, perhaps with the exception of Eikoh Hosoe and his publications Man and Woman and Barakei (Ordeal by Roses) from which excerpts were published in the American photographic magazines. Even today, I may now recognize some of the photographs in this book, but only a few of the photographers have any name recognition. Understanding that gap in my awareness was the underlying reason that I was seeking out Feustel and subsequently this photobook.

I realize that there are many and varied barriers to obtaining and understanding the rich and complex photographic work being developed in Japan. The language is an obvious barrier, with few of the past and even current photobooks having English text. Second, in part due to the limited English text, few of the Japanese photobooks are distributed outside of Japan and as such have limited accessibility.

Third is the culture, the background story, of Japan, which is very much unlike the American/European culture. Thus my attempting to “read” a Japanese photograph or photobook will at best only obtain a glimpse of all of the potential meetings, as I am not looking for those visual clues that may be very significant to the Japanese photographer and subsequent Japanese reader. I have a feeling similar to that of Pico Iyer, who recently wrote that after living in Kyoto Japan for 22 years, he is still known as a gaijin (outsider) and “generally feel as if I’m stumbling through the city’s exquisite surfaces like a bull in an Imari china shop”. Likewise, I sympathize with Andrew Phelps that after an intense three weeks photographing in Niigata, Japan, his project was really “about responding visually to a place I don’t really understand”. Thus I embark on learning the visual clues and become more aware of the layers of potential meanings, of which this photobook is proving to provide an immeasurable assistance.

 This book itself is thick with black and white photographs, some have become highly acclaimed internationally and many are not very well known outside of Japan. The photographs by the eleven photographers are highly dispersed, as I have some difficulty drawing a comprehensive impression of any one of the photographers work. I am not sure that was the editor’s intent, but to instead to provide a complex intertwining of the photographer’s work which was being concurrently published at any one period. I think that the intent was to illustrate the potential interaction and yet diversity in the photographs being produced.  The photographs are sequenced somewhat randomly but in an overall progressive duration, from the mid-1940’s to the mid-1960’s.

 Most of the Japanese photographers of this period were working initially with magazines and newspapers creating singular photographs made on the streets and only later developing concepts and projects that would result in cohesive photobooks.

Hiraki Osam in his essay, states “..the photographers of the postwar era had a very different perception of photography to that of prewar photographers, instead becoming expressionists in their own right. In other words, theirs was an active rather than a passive stance. They accepted the world before their eyes as their own reality and attempted to interpret this though photography, projecting the result back to us in the form of a photograph….The greatest benefit reaped by postwar photography was that, whether consciously or subconsciously, the photographic act itself became fundamentally grounded in the photographer’s own self, or, to put it another way, in the sense of an individual’s own existence in the world.”

 During my conversation with Feustel, he did provide a nice insight on “reading” a Japanese photograph, that it helps “to look for the symbolic power of the detail and notice the focus on texture and the use of space”. Feustel has assisted me in curating the photographs in this article, choosing some important photographs from among the many and that he recommends spend time viewing and studying to help gain some insights on postwar Japanese photography.

 The essays are provided by Takeuchi Keiichi, Hiraki Osam and the Introduction is by Alain Sayag. There are three different editions of this book published, English, French and Japanese, my edition being the French version that I purchased last July in Paris, all of which are now out of print, but currently seem to be easily available on the secondary book market. If you have an interest in Japanese photography, I highly recommend acquiring this book.

By Douglas Stockdale

August 31, 2010

Christoph Lingg – Shut Down

Copyright Christoph Lingg 2007 courtesy Edition Aufbruch E.U.

The beautiful industrial landscape photographs of Christoph Lingg are in stark contrast to the general malaise that appears to be infecting the many industrial sites in his photobook Shut Down; Industrial Ruins in the East. It is evident that Lingg has traveled extensively searching for a specific type of industrial waste; places where structures of commerce have outlived their perceived usefulness and have subsequently been abandoned, idled and are no longer functioning. This project has much in common with Bernd and Hilla Becher decaying industrial structures, Eugene Atget’s old Parisian structure in transition, Eugene Richards abandoned Western plains farmhouses and John Bartelstone’s decaying Brooklyn Navy Yard.

 Lingg is investigating barren sites, which are now only inhabited by crumbling and fading buildings, silos, towers, and infrastructure. These places also have a flawed beauty that seems to intrigue Lingg with their design, lines, mass and varied patina of rusting hues. These are places that are similar to Henrik Saxgren’s Unintended Sculptures, where Lingg has found some of the magic of the readymade object, where everyday absurdities hint at surrealism.

 Lingg’s viewpoint attempts to be objective and almost as aseptic and clinical as Bernd and Hilla Becher’s black and white industrial photographs of abandoned industrial sites, but without their compositional repetition. Lingg’s color photographs are meticulous composed and sharply detailed, evidence of a large-scale camera which is so well suited to the investigation of industrial landscapes. His color photographs are very saturated but frequently have a somber tonality, suggesting the darkness of the economic pall that has come over these once and proud locations of industry. The tonality provides a hint of subjectivity for what I perceive as the photographer’s negative condemnation of what is being investigated.

 His foregrounds are usually vacant and empty, revealing no redeeming value, similar in spirit to the vacant and collapsing structures. He shifts the focus on this foreground as to emphasize that this is the central point, with the decaying structures seceding into the background, as lesser elements. This also creates a visual effect of more space within the photographs, attempting to establish a broader context for his narratives. Lingg’s photographs are elegantly composed to bring forth an esthetic balance and design, attempting to make these places visually appealing even in the pathos of the situation.

 Frequently Lingg pares the different viewpoints of the same general location on facing pages providing a richer narrative about each location. Sometimes there is a glimpse of an individual or equipment that is in the process of reclaiming these structures, extracting some industrial nourishment for another facility. Nevertheless, I do not feel the presence of redemption, tolerance, restoration and re-birth.

 An abandoned structure looms in the middle ground, surrounded by a field of green, with just a glimpse of a white church steeple barely visible amongst the rusting structures. An interesting narrative about the frailty of mankind contrasted against an enduring religious belief that the church continues on in spite of the fluxing economic conditions. I also can not help but note that the religious building is bathed in white, while the futilities of man are darkly rusting hues.

 In one photograph, the foreground is occupied by a vacant and abandoned skeleton structure, while across the greenish river a new and modern appearing high density structure has arisen. Almost lurking in the edges of the foreground is an industrial truck that appears to be collecting the structures remnants; while at the opposite side of the river is a modernist appearing park and canopy structure, providing a stark contrast of the new life looming over an old economy.

I found one pair of photographs particularly haunting in which dirty and ragged industrial clothing was left hanging in place on hooks amongst other hanging hardware and now appears like bodiless ghosts who were left to wonder through this barren faculty.

 Even as the interiors are detoriating, the ensuing results can still create beautiful abstractions, such as the photograph of the wall of yellow peeling paint. It could have been tempting to isolate these forms, shapes and colors to create an aesthetically pleasing photograph, but Lingg chose to include within the frame the counter top and abandoned dusty shoes, creating a more objective and documentary style photograph, reminding me of the story of the Beauty and Beast.

 Unseen are the individuals who labored and once depended on this manufacturing site for a living. Likewise the families and the adjacent community which had depended on this factory for its economic livelihood are not visible. These structures at one time were teeming with people, but who are now sadly missing, with the expectation of a few individuals who appear to be picking through these industrial bones, attempting to find something of value or benefit that might have been earlier overlooked. A factory which ceases to operate has far-reaching implications. It may appear that the decaying and rusting facilities are symbolic of a once thriving business that operated this site, but frequently the corporate business still lives on, only now in another less expensive location.

 I also sense a caustic commentary about a disposable society, such that a substantial factory built from brick and steel can be viewed as impermanent and considered industrial waste. That unneeded factor sites can appear to be a casual liability, much as we might dispose of a paper wrapper after enjoying a sweet confectionary.

 These are melancholic appearing places, more about death than life, a beautiful and yet sad narrative. For me most of the traces of life are no longer present, just the industrial bones left to bleach and rust in the natural elements. There must be memories here, but I do not sense that these are places of dreams, unless you count nightmares. These photographs do not seem hopeful.

 Lingg’s photobook is itself a beautiful and unique object; the book’s cover has incorporated thin rusting metal places, making each set of covers very unique and fitting representation of what lies between the covers. The book has been assembled by hand with screws, which would appear to allow the book to lay flat, which it does somewhat only when you pause mid-book. The book is cased in a stenciled industrial grayish paperboard, probably recycled pulp, slip cover. The essays are provided by Susanne Schaber, Richard Swartz and Serhij Zhadan.

by Douglas Stockdale

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