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 20, 2017

Ellen Korth – CHARKOW

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Photographer: Ellen Korth, (b. The Hague, Netherlands – resides Deventer (Netherlands) & Nordhorn (Germany)

Publisher: Self-published, Deventer (Netherlands), copyright 2016

Interviews by: Ellen Korth, Sybren Kuiper

Text: Netherlands, English & German

Seven (7) Stiff-cover books in slip-case, sewn binding, four-color lithography, printed by Fine Books Weesp (Jos Morree) in Netherlands

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Photobook designer: Sybren Kuiper ( -SYB- )

Lithographer: Colour & Books (Sebastiaan Hanekroot)

Notes: Ellen Korth’s CHARKOW photobook is a very layered and complex set of photobooks, both physically and in her narrative, in part similar to and driven by her mysterious and complex past. Essentially this is an investigation of the question of what constitutes “home”?

It is a collection of short visual stories that delves into the subject for each person or couple as to what is “home” (where their heart is) for them? Perhaps for Korth in attempting to understand how others sense “home”, it might be a therapeutic process for her to deal her own feelings of belonging. It appears to me that this photobook also investigate a related and equally beguiling question; how deep must one’s roots be to feel “grounded”?

Each of the thin books create a fascinating visual metaphor; as each successive full-bleed photograph becomes smaller, the outer framing of the previous photographs can be read as a background border to create a complex, layered environmental context for the developing narrative. The unbalanced trim of each page spread adds to the visual layering effect. Once at the center of each book, it is difficult to read the photographic spread, the only image with a small white margin, without noticing the Kaleidoscopic background framing that reminds the reader about how complex a person’s story might be. A wonderful analogy to the layering of skins surrounding an onion and the effort to peel each layer to get closer to the central heart. The reader imagines that that they are slowly delving deeper into the layers of her subject’s life to get at the core of who they might be as it relates to being “home”. Both visual tantalizing and emotionally elusive.

For Korth, her personal story is cloaked in dark secrets and a sense of loss as to her family history. This may be in part as a result of her mother’s need for secrecy since fleeing from Charkow (Kharkov) during the absolute terror and chaos of the German invasion during WWII. Korth is dealing with the issues of an incomplete and hidden past and perhaps the unanswerable questions of how to resolve those feelings.

Highly Recommended! My basis: I was one of the jurist for the International Photo Book Competition sponsored by Photo Independent and I was absolutely blown away by this brilliant photobook and immediately knew that I had to provide this to the readers of The PhotoBook Journal. Oh, it also won the photobook competition as well.

Update: CHARKOW was a finalist in the first (2017) Lucie Photo Book Prize.

Cheers!

Douglas Stockdale

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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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