The PhotoBook Journal

November 29, 2017

Interesting Photobooks of 2017 (plus a few from 2016)

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Interesting Photobooks of 2017, copyright Douglas Stockdale

As in years past, we have been providing a short list of photobooks we have found interesting, whether it was the photographic content, concept of the project, the book’s design or production qualities; and most interesting when it was a delightful combination of all of these book elements.

For our editorial team selection we limited ourselves to the photobooks we received with time to really evaluate the book object in its entirety. I have readily admitted in the past we do not have access to read and study every photobook that was published during the year, thus our list is not meant to be inclusive as there are a great many other interesting photobooks that were published this year. Our list may not be the “Best” photobooks of 2017, but rather we have selected some of the more interesting photobooks for your consideration. In a couple of cases, we have included books that were published in late 2016 that have come to our attention this year.

We have published commentaries for most of these, which are linked-up. It is our intent to publish commentaries for the remaining photobooks shortly. So in alphabetic order:

Roger Ballen, Ballenesque, Thames & Hudson, 2017, a really interesting retrospective of Ballen’s creative body of work, also The Theatre of Apparitions, Thames & Hudson, 2016 (we did not see this until early this year); An astute personal investigation of the mind against intercultural backgrounds.

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Roger Ballen

Paula Bronstein, Afghanistan: Between Hope and Fear, University of Texas Press, 2016; a long term photo-documentary project about the on-going social impact of war in Afghanistan.

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Paula Bronstein

Claire Felicie, Only the Sky Remains Untouched, Self-published, 2016; provides an intriguing layered visual design that creatively investigates the concepts of lingering trauma after warfare.

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Claire Felicie

Lea Habourdin, Survivalists, Fuego Books, 2017; an intriguing book design that investigates a concept about personal/cultural survival. (Review pending)

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Lea Habourdin

Ellen Korth, CHARKOW, Self-published, 2016; presenting difficult parts of a personal history using a very innovative set of books.

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Ellen Korth

Andrej Lamut, Nokturno, The Angry Bat, 2017; a dark and moody investigation which provides an interesting environment to explore a diverse range of metaphoric potentials.

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Andrej Lamut

Robert Lyons, Pictures From the Next Day, Zatara Press; An introspective project that explores aging, personal relationships and American culture. (Review pending)

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Robert Lyons

Tymon Markowski, Flow, Self-published, 2017; a great utilization of a book design that captures the essence of photo-documentary project’s investigation of a region.

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Tymon Markowski

Duane Michals, Portraits, Thames & Hudson, 2017; a retrospective of his portrait work in the context of his trademark, if not iconic, creative storytelling.

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Duane Michals

Nancy Rexroth, IOWA, University of Texas Press, 2017 (first edition, self-published, 1977); an updated and re-edited edition of this fine art photobook “classic”, which still maintains its artistic vitality. (Review pending)

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Nancy Rexroth

Douglas Stockdale, Bluewater Shore, self-published, 2017; (A little bit of personal bias) Exploring American culture and family as well in part for its production merit as it is the first photo book that was printed with a duotone (black & white) digital lithography printing process.

Bluewater Shore limited edition artist book

Cheers!

Douglas & Gerhard

April 11, 2017

International Photobook Competition 2017 – The Results!

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Douglas Stockdale, Sarah Hadley & Chris Davies photo 2017 copyright by Marissa Caichiolo

I was very honored to be a jurist for a second time of the International Photobook Competition. which is sponsored by Photo Independent. The selected photographic books will be featured as part of Photobook Independent during the same event in Los Angeles later this month.

From the press release: Los Angeles, Calif. (April 3, 2017) – Photo Independent announces the winners of the 2017 International Photobook Awards. The competition received photobooks from 16 countries. The judges selected six books as Best in Show, three self-published/handmade photobooks and three published photobooks.

Self-Published/Handmade photo books include:

Ellen Korth, Netherlands: Charkow 

Claire Felicie, Netherlands: Only The Sky Remains Untouched

Frank Hamrick, USA: Harder Than Writing a Good Haiku

Published photo books include:

Manca Juvan, Slovenia: Guardians of the SpoonZalobzba ZRC / ZRC Publishing

Stanislav Briza, Czech Republic: Hitchhike — BFLMPSVZ

Susan Burnstine, USA: Absence of BeingDamiani

Honorable Mentions were also awarded to:

Jason Paul Reimer, USA: 197 — Dummy Book

Shane Lavalette, USA: One Sun, One Shadow Self-Published

Xiomara Bender, Switzerland: North Korea, The Power of Dreams — Kehrer Verlag

Steve Diet Goedde, USA: Arrangements -Volume III | 2007-2015 — Century Guild

The Best in Show photobooks, as well as the Four Honorable Mentions will be exhibited and available for purchase during Photo Independent, April 21-23, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

Photo Independent location: The REEF, DTLA (Down Town Los Angeles), 1933 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90007

General Fair Hours: Saturday, April 22, 11am–7pm & Sunday, April 23, 11am–6pm

A number of the winners of this competition have been previously featured on The PhotoBook (links are provided, above) while I have noted the photographers and their photobook which have reviews that are still in process. So more to come, stay tuned!

The competition judging panel had a slight change and included (in addition to me):

  • Marisa Caichiolo, Curator and Executive Director, Building Bridges Art Exchange
  • Chris Davies, Publisher, Fabrik Magazine
  • Sarah Hadlee, Independent Curator and Founder of the Filter Photo Festival
  • Sarah Lee, Curator
  • Douglas Stockdale, Photographer, Book Artist, Educator, Editor/Founder The PhotoBook Journal

This was a really interesting and wonderful opportunity to review a broad and diverse group of photobooks. I feel fortunate to be able to get a strong pulse of what is happening in the greater photo book community.

Congratulations to those photographers whose books were juried in!

Cheers!

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January 11, 2017

Claire Felicie – Only The Sky Remains Untouched

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Copyright 2016 Claire Felicie

Photographer: Claire Felicie (born Breda, NL, resides Amsterdam, NL)

Self-published (the Nederland)

Essays: Claire Felicie

Text: English

Stiffcover book, sewn binding, quad-color (2 blacks, dark grey, warm grey) lithography by Colour and Books, printed in the Nederland

Photobook designer: Sybren Kuiper ( -SYB- )

Notes: Claire Felicie has undertaken a daunting task of investigating the dark inner psyche of war veterans who after engaging in terrifying military combat, have returned home with the invisible wounds of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Felicie carefully chose a symbolic location to stage her portraits, which is a former military weapons factory.  Her portraits and landscapes are subsequently mashed-up and interwoven together in an attempt create a more chaotic and disjointed narrative. The black and white photographs lean heavily into grey and dark tonalities, providing a very somber setting for this body of work.

Her subjects recline half-dressed on a minimalist and symbolic military style cot within a stark space. Some cannot confront the camera, needing to turn their backs to look away. The remaining gazes appear blank, dull, without energy and momentarily without resistance. Many of her portraits are truncated with the interleaving of pages, see images 2 and 3 below, and as well as images 5 and 6, visually revealing only a partial embodiment of her subject, as though that person is no longer whole and symbolically broken.

Many of portraits are paired with images of a decaying structure; a desolate and foreboding environmental context that seems well suited to the disturbing war stories her subjects share in the afterword. Her subjects have experiences that are difficult for a non-combatant viewer to fathom, even after reading about the events that have been witnessed. These are the experiences that subsequently result in sudden bouts of intense anxiety, fear, and sadness accompanied with a loss of trust and a sense of security. Thus pairing a portrait with an abstract marking that could be representative of a weeping wall, bottom image below, is a beautiful symbolic metaphor for a depressing sadness.

Essentially all conceptual projects, although especially portraits, attempt to find ways to explain the unexplained and visualize the invisible. Books and photographs become a silent witness. Nevertheless, I find her photographs of these veterans sequenced among the moody rural and urban landscape photographs elicits a perceived sadness emulating from her subjects and although I don’t know the extent of their pain, it feels palpable.

The surrounding forest, although rendered darkly, is steadily reclaiming the man-made structures, thus offers hope for a slowly regenerative healing for her subjects and mankind as well.

In closing, a beautiful book object that results from the creative collaboration of Felicie with the smart book designer Sybren Kuiper and the beautifully lithography by Sebastiaan Hanekroot at Colour and Books. Recommended.

Cheers

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