The PhotoBook Journal

October 24, 2017

Chris Mottalini – Land of Smiles

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Photographer: Chris Mottalini (born Buffalo, NY & resides Brooklyn NY, USA)

Self-Published: Corgi Editions (E: 350): Brooklyn, NY copyright 2017

Text: English & Thai

Stiff cover with French folds, Japanese folded pages and cold-glue binding, four-color lithography, printed in Belgium by Die Keure

Photobook designer: Remake Design (Mike Dyer)

Notes:

Chris Mottalini’s recently self-published photobook Land of Smiles is a visual rhapsody in three distinct movement in the way it is episodic yet strangely integrated. The photographs of each of the three movement are free-flowing in structure and overall has a range of moods, color and tonality.

This book project coincides with three of his recent visits to Thailand in which Mottalini investigated three attributes of the Thai landscape, one aspect on each journey. He first noted of the use of florescent tubes as night lights in the countryside, which creates surreal night landscapes. Subsequently Mottalini investigated the myriad of narrow streets and alleyways of the large city of Bangkok and then on a return to the country side during his next visit to explore the nighttime dense fauna within the limitations of an artificial light. The two dark movements then create endcaps to the brilliantly colors and complex cityscapes.

The book’s design with the use of the Japanese folded pages and textured papers is a brilliant choice as this book object has what be best described as an oriental experience. A classic case of form following function.

Mottalini has stated (discussions with Michael Adno for Aint-Bad and Jon Feinstein for Humble Arts) that “Land of Smiles is intended to be a dreamlike experience, a collection of blurred memories, a wandering, distracted meditation….Land of Smiles is a nickname for Thailand which was invented by the tourism industry, it’s a bit tongue in cheek, I thought it was a perfect title for the book, though, in part because my photographs are so opposite of anything related to tourism and the Western world’s perception of Thailand.”

Previous Chris Mottalini photobook reviewed: After you Left, They took it Apart

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July 22, 2016

Chris Mottalini – After You Left – They Took It Apart

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Chris Mottalini – After You Left – They Took It Apart

Copyright 2013 Chris Mottalini

Photographer: Chris Mottalini (b. Buffalo, NY – resides Brooklyn, NY, USA)

Published by The Center for American Places/Columbia College Chicago Press

Essays: Allison Arieff, Charlie and Marlene Cerrito

Text: English

Hardcover book with tipped in photograph, sewn binding, four-color lithography, Notes on the Plates, printed in Singapore

Photobook designer: Center for American Places

Notes: The subtext for the book title, Demolished Paul Rudolph Homes, reveals the subject of Chris Mottalini’s investigation; various homes built by the 1950’s avant-garde architect Paul Rudolph which are documented just prior to demolition.

Mottalini uses an objective documentary style to investigate the Rudolph architecture as a design element situated within a landscape, but also a study of aging and impermanence. Rudolph’s designs were the cutting edge of the 50’s and 60’s, severe in style and now the materials of construction and infrastructure appear dated and left languishing. Mottalini focuses on the unique architectural details of these period structures, as one would construct a portrait. The wiring and technical infrastructure appear aged and in need of some care, like some wonderful beauty marks, but instead the structures are rendered absolute, ignored and essentially discarded.

The book is laid out in a clean classic design, the photographs framed by sufficient white margins and with sub-chapters dedicated to each subject. One nagging detail with the layout of this book and creating a small bit of confusion, the pages are numbered, while the plates are not, and yet the index refers to the plate numbers which are not the same as the page numbers. So with a little image counting, you can eventually figure it out.

Cheers

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