The PhotoBook Journal

September 5, 2018

NY Art Book Fair – Coming soon!

Filed under: Artist Books, Photo Book NEWS, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 5:38 pm

NY Art Book Fair

Printed Matter, Inc. presents

THE NY ART BOOK FAIR

September 21-23, 2018

Preview: Thursday, September 20, 6-9pm

Purchase your preview ticket here.

Printed Matter Members receive free entry to the preview. Please present your membership card at the door. To join as a Member, click here.

 

Free entrance

HOURS AND LOCATION

Preview Thursday, September 20, 6-9pm (Ticketed)

Friday, September  21, 1-7pm

Saturday, September 22, 11am-9pm

Sunday, September 23, 11am-7pm

 

Where: MoMA PS1 is located at 22-25 Jackson Avenue on 46th Avenue, Long Island City, NY.

(Of course, we on the Left coast are patiently waiting for the LA Art Book Fair)

Cheers!

August 31, 2018

Melissa Lazuka – Song of the Cicadas

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Song of the Cicadas, Melissa Lazuka, Copyright 2018

Artist: Melissa Lazuka (born Cleveland, OH, resides Chardon, Ohio)

Self-Published, Ohio

Without essays, pagination or captions

Text: English

Hardcover book, leporello binding, photographs & paper ephemera, hand-made, limited edition 1/1 in a series of 25, USA

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Photobook concept & designer: Melissa Lazuka

Notes: I met Melissa Lazuka while reviewing her portfolio at the LACP (Los Angeles Center of Photography) EXPOSURES 2018 event last July during which we spent time with two of her artist books, Song of Cicadasand Fly Away, both of which I thought were brilliant. We mostly discussed the challenges of an artist book (1/1) and how to create multiple of the concept, which I have just written about in a previous article on TPBJ.

Lazuka has decided that her the path forward to create multiples of her artist book is to create a series of unique books (each 1/1), each individually unique but slightly different as to all of the found ephemera and materials that constitute her books. This artist books series is unified by the photographs she will included in each edition. I am very excited about her publishing strategy as it has in turn allowed me to acquire an edition for this artist book review.

Her artist book is a wonderful mashup of found objects and old ephemera that are layered with her own photographic prints. Bits and pieces of old books create the foundation to support her photographs, thus creating the back-story of past events, while foretelling of the future. Lazuka’s photographs appear almost mysterious, in and out of soft focus, that are grounded in current experiences while harkening ahead to future memories, as an indistinct recall of past events. She obtains her beautiful visual effects with a combination of technics; freelensing and the use of multiple exposures. Her black and white photographs remind me of the magical work of Keith Carter’s Fireflies and a monochromatic version of the recent photobooks by Cig Harvey, such as her Gardening at Night.

Lazuka has written a poignant passage that I would like to share as it sums up very elegantly her intent; These photographs of single, delicate and fragile moments of time, I collected just as we collected the beautiful see-through wings of the cicadas that summer of 2016. Like the cicadas that lived such a short time, these moments did too. They were beautiful and real, and then they were gone, only to be remembered in photographs, just as all we had left of the cicadas in the end. Each photograph in this series (Editor: artist book) is an individual moment, that was not a memory as it was taken, but became one in its afterlife. However, strung together, in this series, this is their “song”, like the cicadas, of those magical summer days.

It is safe to say that her narrative is not about these prolific cicadas bugs that strangely appear in mass every 17 years, or the sometimes-deafening noise they can create in the late evening. Lazuka as a parent and a mother of four is very aware of events that are not fathomable to a child; that a fleeting event that her child is experiencing now will not reoccur again for a considerable amount of time and when it does, that child will have grown to be a young adult. Her short narrative is about taking note of the present moment, perhaps event admonishing to be presentat all times, as today’s events will eventually create future memories.

As a physical object, her small petite artist book is roughly hone with ragged edges, uneven textures and a deckled top-edge on the heavy paper that creates the backbone of this leporello book design. Truly a visual diamond in the rough. There is nothing neat and tidy about this artist book, but conversely it is a bit of a mess, perhaps even purposely crude, with hints of fragility such that it seems as though it might suddenly fall apart, thus a wonderful metaphor for life itself. Highly recommended.

Cheers, Doug

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August 30, 2018

Artist books – challenge of multiples

Filed under: Artist Books, Photo Book Discussions — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 1:44 pm

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Melissa Lazuka, Song of the Cicadas, copyright 2018

One of the pleasures I derive from being a Portfolio Reviewer for various events is that my experience as Editor of this Journal attracts individuals who are either in the midst of creating a photobook or may have recently developed one. Such was the case recently when I was providing Portfolio Reviews for Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP) CONNECT 2018 event this summer and I had the opportunity to spend time with Melissa Lazuka with her two recent artist books, Song of the Cicadas and Fly Away. (Note; I will be providing a full review of Song of the Cicadas).

Our discussion is prompting me to briefly write about some of the challenges of making multiples of unique hand-made artist books, versus printing a smaller number of traditional printed and bound photobooks.

Both of Lazuka’s hand-made artist books are very complex, layered and very unique (1 of 1) and our discussion was centered on the issue for artists who create very intriguing and visually complex artist books of how then expand that physical concept into a larger edition size. I shared my personal experience of creating a unique artist book (Pine Lake), and the challenges to expand on this to produce multiples of this concept and how this involved into a relatively fun scavenger hunt as I attempted to find all of the book parts to make a larger edition of 25.

For Lazuka, she had found some unique old book parts that she had deconstructed to create her artist books and the daunting challenge of how to either find more of the same, something similar, or re-create these book elements. As an example, I shared with her how I had found some ephemera for Pine Lake and resorted to recreate these elements for my book since I could not obtain multiple copies of these old items.

Another artist who has successfully found a way to create multiples of her artist books is the Russian book artist Julia Borissova. I have reviewed many of her very creative endeavors on TPBJ and I will shortly feature her latest, Let Me Fall Again. For this article, I asked Borissova to discuss her approach to transcend from a singular artist book idea to creating multiples of her concepts.

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Julia Borissova, Let Me Fall Again, copyright 2018

Borissova states; When I’m creating a unique book dummy, I’m thinking about all details. Sometimes I understand that the design of my book is to much complicated that I can realise it only by my hands, so I print the edition in the form of sheets in print office (commercial printer) and after that I make the rest work myself – cutting, binding and so on. 

But always the choice of materials (paper, carton) was very important for me, and always I tried to evolve my idea through color, weight, size of the book.  The construction of my book consists of various layers  which viewers are encouraged to interact with. My intent is to create the book in form of art-object as multiples to present them to viewers with no barriers or limitations, so that everyone can touch them freely and imagine the multiple possible forms that the book can offer. The main value of my work with books — is the contact with the viewer.

Another issue with artist books, even with an edition of 25, is that there are so few of these it makes it difficult to provide all of the requests from editors, publishers and bloggers to see and handle the physical object and still have some books to sell. Thus the limited number of books for promotion also limited the number of potential buyers who become aware of the books. Likewise, the limited number of the edition can also increase the relative cost of the book as the small size precludes a lot of commercial printing, binding and other supporting opportunities. Which is one of the reasons that I expanded the edition size of Bluewater Shore, my sequel to Pine Lake, to an edition of 99, plus A/Ps to have more books available for review copies, etc while concurrently reducing some of the complexity, such as eliminating the wooden box frame for the book and the extra ephemera.

Thus Borissova and Lazuka have taken two different paths for their artist book multiples. Borissova, whom I think is similar to my practice, is on the path to pre-visualize an artist book in the context of how multiples of the concept could be actualized. It seems for Borissova even that artistic journal is a creative endeavor as only the concept is determined before she develops her edition.

Meanwhile Lazuka has decided that for her multiples, these will be a series of unique (1 of 1) artist books that certain elements will be repeated, such as the inclusion of her photographs, that then will be layered on similar found book materials for her small edition series, such as the 25 she intends to create for Song of the Cicadas. Each of these artist books will be truly unique but repeating the design elements with similar materials will help her expand and extend her concept to a much larger audience.

Cheers

October 16, 2017

The PhotoBook Journal interview – Alejandro Cartagena

Filed under: Photo Book Discussions — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 4:07 pm

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Alejandro Cartagena, Los Angeles, 2017 Douglas Stockdale

Alejandro Cartagena first jumped on my photobook radar when I obtained his Suburbia Mexicana, a monograph that was published jointly by Daylight Books and Photolucida in recognition of Cartagena’s Critical Mass submission award in 2009. Suburbia Mexicana is an interesting mashup of portraits, urban landscape and developing urban sprawl, a condition that does not appear to bode well for this region in Mexico. Following this photobook was his self-published Carpoolers in 2014, Before the War in 2015, Rivers of Power (Rios de Poder) in 2016 and now his 2017 publication A Guide to Infrastructure and Corruption in conjunction with The Velvet Cell (Eanna de Freine) imprint. Each of these photobooks were very creative and exhibited a lot of thoughtful consideration in the design, layout and production. We had just missed each other a couple of years ago while he was in LA for his exhibition at Kopeikin Gallery, but I was able to recently catch up with this busy photographer and self-publisher for his follow-on exhibition at Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles. What follows is a photobook discussion that was as fascinating as it was a bit overdue.

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DS Tell us about your growing up and what brought you to photography and in particular, book making?

AC I’ve lived in Mexico since 1990 but before that I lived in Dominican Republic in a small industrial town were everybody worked for the sugar factory. Here in Mexico I´ve lived in another industrial town called Monterrey, which is just two hours south of the US-Texas border. I started in photography after 10 years in the service industry. I just didn´t want to work in hotels and restaurants anymore and started taking random photography workshops and I found something there that really got to me and so I quit and 12 years later here I am. Books became something important right at the beginning. I felt lost at first and photobooks made me see a way you can make photographs into these cohesive projects. At first I wasn´t doing or focusing on doing books but then a workshop with Paul Graham made understand how the book could be the work, the piece you work for. So that shifted things in my projects and made me see how the images are more like words and phrases that complied add up to something unique. Not storytelling per se but photography telling; beauty, contradictions, wholes, incomplete narratives, suggestions and gut.

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DS Can you tell us about your bookmaking process? I know from our conversation today in talking about the next edition of Carpoolers, that this is evolving process.

AC Well yes it is always changing. It always start with the project, the idea. What is it that I want to suggest viewers read from these images and how can I combine design, pictures, typography, paper, sequence to approximate that notion and sometimes even imply a political stance on the subject matter. When I was in grad school, the process of doing a research thesis really made me think of process and how things accumulate to become something new. So I bring that to my bookmaking in that I am assuring the viewer that all parts of the book combine harmoniously to suggest and offer an understanding of the subject mater. Everything is backed up or is referenced and so the books feel complete and in dialogue with the history of photography, design ideas, the state of things in the world and with other photobooks and materials used in the past. I also try to bring in things that are alien to photography or the project itself, sometimes through design or through text. I feel that creates contrast and a self questioning of the object. It’s a bit of vulnerability that offers an edge the wholeness of the book.

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DS What do you look for and consider when developing a new photobook?

AC I think the most important thing is that it should feel like the project works in that form (book). If the making the project into a book has no other meaning than just to publish a group of images and I can´t justify to myself why this sequence, size, set of the images and object make a bigger point than the images by themselves then I don´t pursue the possibility of the book. Sometimes it is in the sequencing stage or in the physical dummies were I realize that it´s not working, so I stop.

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DS As a workshop leader for photobooks development, do you have advice for photographers thinking about creating a photobook?

AC Buy photobooks. Live with them and try to understand why that object exists. Try to crack down the decisions made to make it the way it is. Question everything you see. That process I think opens up possibilities and parallels to your work. Once you find those things you like and feel you understand, maybe it is time to think of your work as a book.

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DS What are some of your proudest achievements?

AC Just being able to do a book. To create a wave in the way we citizens see the world that can counterbalance the main narratives coming from those in power.

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DS What is some unexpected that we don’t know about you?

AC I´ve worked since I was 10. First selling oranges and grapefruit from my family’s orchard in DR. I then worked cleaning shit in pig dens when I was 12. I sold skateboards when I moved to Mexico. I sold clocks in a flea market for two years.  I´ve worked as a construction worker, a gardener, waiter, hotel manager, and a restaurant manager and in McDonalds.

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DS Any last thoughts as we close?

AC What a crazy year this has been.

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DS Alejandro, thank you for this opportunity to discuss your interesting artistic practice.

Bio: Alejandro Cartagena, Mexican (b. 1977, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) lives and works in Monterrey, Mexico. His projects employ landscape and portraiture as a means to examine social, urban and environmental issues. Cartagena’s work has been exhibited internationally in more than 50 group and individual exhibitions in spaces including the the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris and the CCCB in Barcelona, and his work is in the collections of several museums including the San Francisco MOMA, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, the Portland Museum of Art, The West Collection, the Coppel collection, the FEMSA collection, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the George Eastman House and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and among others.

Alejandro is a self-publisher and co-editor and has created several award winning titles including Santa Barbara Shame on US, Skinnerboox, 2017, A Guide to Infrastructure and Corruption, The velvet Cell, 2017, Rivers of Power, Newwer, 2016, Santa Barbara return Jobs to US, Skinnerboox, 2016, Headshots, Self-published, 2015, Before the War, Self-published, 2015, Carpoolers, Self-published with support of FONCA Grant, 2014, Suburbia Mexicana, Daylight/ Photolucida 2010. Some of his books are in the Yale University Library, the Tate Britain, and the 10×10 Photobooks book collections among others.

Cartagena has received several awards including the international Photolucida Critical Mass Book Award, the Street Photography Award in London Photo Festival, the Lente Latino Award in Chile, the Premio IILA-FotoGrafia Award in Rome and the Salon de la Fotografia of Fototeca de Nuevo Leon in Mexico among others. He has been named an International Discoveries of the FotoFest festival, a FOAM magazine TALENT and an Emerging photographer of PDN magazine. He has also been a finalist for the Aperture Portfolio Award and has been nominated for the Santa Fe Photography Prize, the Prix Pictet Prize, the Photoespaña Descubrimientos Award and the FOAM Paul Huff Award. His work has been published internationally in magazines and newspapers such as Newsweek, Nowness, Domus, the Financial Times, The New York Times, Le Monde, Stern, PDN, The New Yorker, and Wallpaper among others. He is represented by Patricia Conde gallery.

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