The PhotoBook Journal

September 9, 2018

Julia Borissova – Let Me Fall Again

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Let Me Fall Again, Julia Borissova, Copyright 2018

Artist: Julia Borissova (born Talinn, Estonia, resides St. Petersburg, RU)

Self-Published: St Petersburg, Russia

Essay, Julia Borissova

Text: Russian, English

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Stiffcover book, handsewn binding, stitching, inserts, gate-folds, First edition of 239, hand-made in Russia

Photobook designer: Julia Borissova

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Notes: It was not until I had a chance to spend time with Julia Borissova’s latest photobook, Let Me Fall Again, did I reflect on the act of what constitutes “failure” for an artist, versus the perspective of the corporate/business person. For a business venture failure is the worst possible event. I will have to admit as a person who has been involved in the development of countless pharmaceutical drugs that researchers are probably more in alignment with artist in that a “failure” can considered to be on a path to success.

She states in her artist statement, which is complexly folded and partially hidden within the book, …this word (failure) means something else in the art world. The gap between the initial intention and realization of artwork can be seen as an artistic failure. However, if unsuccessful attempts are not regarded as the final result, it encourages artist to work more and gives them opportunities to grow.

The subject of her book is Charles Leroux who was an early (1890’s) adapter in the act of parachuting, which eventually led to his early demise in Estonia (Russia). The book is complex and lots of parts are mashed together, a continuous series of small and large gatefolds that reveal text, posters, images and illustrations. I will have to say, I wonder if all of these page folds are a bit overdone, but I sense the reason behind the complexity and sculptural qualities; an attempt to create an interaction by the reader for more engagement with the contents.

Second regarding her layered narrative; on the surface it would appear to be about her subject, but lurking below the surface, I sense it’s about the lives of creative persons. Granted most artist do not jump out of high-flying balloons on makeshift ropes, but figuratively most artist are constantly taking chances with their creative endeavors while they put at great risk a chance at making a sustaining livelihood.

In an interview with Julia, she states Regarding the collages in my book, I used the wire to create three-dimensional objects, I have been inspired by the works of Miró and Calder. These works do not illustrate the history of the balloonist, I just wanted to visualize a sense of lightness & fragility – I tried to draw in the air.

As a book artist, I find Borissova’s book to be very inspirational for my creativity; especially if after working for a year on a new book for it to be greeted with a luke-warm response. Thus, like Borissova, every time I feel I might fail in my work, I now think about Charles, who not being able to fall would have meant great failure.

Btw, I will not divulge the little hidden secret found at the end of each book concealed in a very complex folded insert glued into the ending pages. Perhaps an Icarus metaphor. And to say I am a big fan of Borissova’s artistic work is an understatement. Very inspirational!

Other artist books by Julia Borissova on TPBJ; J. B. About Men Floating in the AirDimitryDOM, address, Running to the Edge

Cheers,

Douglas

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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

June 21, 2017

Julia Borissova – J.B. about men floating in the air

Filed under: Book Publications, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 4:41 pm

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Artist: Julia Borissova (born Talinn, Estonia, resides St. Petersburg, RU)

Self-published, 2015 (second edition of 300, 2017)

Essays: Julia Borissova

Text: English & Russian

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Linen hardcover with tipped in photographs, handmade sewn binding, Leporello format with one four-panel gate-fold and two three-panel gate-folds, digital lithography, printed St. Petersburg, RU

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Photobook designer: Julia Borissova

Notes: In the Greek mythology there was Icarus who upon being gifted with wings from his father and then learning to fly subsequently flew too close to the sun and perished. “J.B. about men floating in the air” was inspired by the story of two Lithuanian-American pilots who tried to set a new world record by flying over the Atlantic into Eastern Europe in the early 1930s. Regretfully like Icarus these two airmen did not reach their goal and perished in the process. Subsequently Joseph Brodsky wrote a short passage about their attempt;

…over the Baltic wave,

I buzz just like that monoplane,

like some Darius and Girenas,

though not as vulnerable.

which inspired Borissova to artistically created her own “parallel world”.

“My story is about the dream of every person to break out from the vice of all kinds of prohibitions and fly away to a distant unknown in search of unlimited freedom and find there his true motherland and real home.”

This small book is another brilliant body of poetic work by Borissova and a fascinating mashup of made, staged and found photographic materials. The unhinged Leporello book design (see the top view of the book above) allows the reader to start from either end of the book (printed on both sides of the sheet) and create multiple stories as it may seem that one side of the book with the introduction is the start of the book, but not necessarily. Sewn into the book are numerous multi-page gate-folds that reveal and conceal various aspects of Borissova’s layered narrative. A very delightful read.

Borissova reminds of us that at one time or another in our lives we probably wished that we could just fly away and leave the complicated messes of life behind and perhaps if not start anew, at least obtain a temporal breather from current events. We also need to consider the potential consequences if we were to fly to close to sun or beyond our capabilities in doing so.

Other artist books by Julia Borissova feature on The PhotoBook include: Dimitry, DOM, <address>, & Running to the Edge.

Cheers, Douglas Stockdale

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September 9, 2016

Julia Borissova – Dimitry

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Copyright 2016 Julia Borissova

Artist: Julia Borissova (born Talinn, Estonia, resides St. Petersburg, RU)

Self-published by the artist, signed and numbered edition of 100

Essays: Julia Borissova, Alexander Fokin

Text: English

Hardcover book, hand-sewn naked binding, digital printing in Russia

Photobook designer: Julia Borissova

Notes: Julia Borissova in her recent artist book, Dimitry, investigates the Russian Tsar Dimitry Ivanovich, the youngest and last son of Ivan IV the Terrible, a child of eight who died under “mysterious circumstances” in 1591. What results is Russian intrigue & speculation perhaps similar to the stories and lore in the US about who all killed President Kennedy or was responsible for the death of Marilyn Monroe. The story of Dimitry Ivanovich is further confounded by the whispers that he narrowly escaped the murder attempt and that he and his descendants still live on, again perhaps similar to current sightings of Elvis.

Borissova states in her introduction “I was intrigued by how the story can go on without the actions of a hero and how his absence can play a major role and catalyze the further development of the story. It is absence that creates legends and turns them into a myth over time.”

There is little known about this young boy Dimitry and apparently even less about the events that occurred in 1591 thus leaving ripe the narrative of his sad saga and the lingering effects on Russian culture. Her narrative is based on a small part of reality, large doses of myth and all wrapped in an enigma. To develop her elusive narrative Borissova has creatively leaned into photo-collage, montage, and layered images interwoven with some documentary style landscape photographs. The photo-collages and montages are initially jarring appearing almost crude in the stark lines of the constructed objects, but this images are also poetic, abstract and wonderfully metaphoric. Her interior images remind me of the style of the Russian abstract montage artist of the 1920s.

Thus Borissova’s narrative has been symbolically ripped from the pages of a Russian 1920’s version of People magazine. She continues to be a Russian photobook artist to watch.

Other artist books by Julia Borissova featured on The PhotoBook: DOM, address, Running to the Edge

Cheers

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January 10, 2016

Julia Borissova – DOM

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Copyright 2014 Julia Borissova

Artist: Julia Borissova (born Talinn, Estonia, resides St. Petersburg, RU)

Self-published artist book, signed and numbered edition of 100

Text: English & Russian

Stiffcover book with stab-sewn booklet and multiple gatefolds, naked-sewn binding, four-color lithography, printed in Russia

Photobook designer: Julia Borissova

Notes: Borissova investigates home and identity in a subtext of the Document Object Model (DOM) in this complex, layered and very creative self-published photobook. DOM is an acronym from the programming world and is a cross-platform application convention for representing and interfacing with objects using a structured and logical organization. The design of the book’s extended cover allows it to be constructed as a cube and with the full bleed printing; the results can appear like a small model of a house. Borissova has subsequently photographed this model house in a number of environmental situations which she uses for the interior gatefolds of her book. These gate folds open to reveal interior photographs and smaller pages of text by her subjects as to what constitutes a “home”. She has utilized this same model house as a planter for the interior photographs of the accompanying booklet, which as the book progresses, the plant continues to grow and soon overflow the planter.  Combining the concepts of programming organization and logic with inherent messiness of a creative investigation as to what is the meaning of “home” is brilliant. I highly recommend this book if you can still find a copy.

Other photobooks by Julia Borissova that have been featured on The PhotoBook: address & Running to the Edge.

Cheers!

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August 12, 2015

Julia Borissova – address

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Copyright 2015 Julia Borissova

Artist: Julia Borissova (born Talinn, Estonia & resides in St Petersburg, RU)

Published & copyright: 2015

Publisher: self-published artist book, edition size: 100, each signed and numbered

Text: English

Hardcover book with embossed cover, thread-stitched binding, four-color lithography includes 6 transparent pages and multiple collage (glued- in) pages, printed & bound in Russia

Photobook designer: Julia Borissova

Notes: This artist book is a conceptual project incorporating photographs, collages & drawings that explores memory and identity; my favorite subjects. Borissova states “It is a deeply personal work based on my growing up in one of the districts in St. Petersburg, Russia, and it is some kind of meditation on my private relationship with the past. Urban environmental documentation in the compilation with some snapshots from my family archive, drawings and collages gives me a possibility to analyze and bridge a gap in my personal history.” <address> is another fascinating photobook by Borissova, very recommended.

Other photobooks by Julia Borissova that have been featured on The PhotoBook: Running to the Edge.

Cheers, Doug

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January 11, 2015

Julia Borissova – Running to the Edge

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Copyright Julia Borissova 2014, self-published (with Limited Edition slip cover)

I am intrigued by Julia Borissova’ s (b. Tallinn, Estonia and lives in St. Petersburg, Russia) recent concept that led to her self-published photobook Running to the Edge, with the way that history and memory is perceived through images. Using found Black & White photographs, some dating back to the Russian Revolution, over which she juxtaposes a collage of objects, flowers and petals that anchor these images to the present. She attempts to create a visual analogy of the idea of memory slipping away over time with the archival photographs married with the fragile flowers, which the reader knows will decay all too quickly.

Borissova states “I saw a diary of 1917-20’s in an antique shop and I could not but buy it. I realized that this diary gives me a chance to show another layer of time to which I refer in my projects, to show it not like a text, as some additional information, but rather through the beauty of the script, through the sense of a touching hand that wrote these letters almost 100 years ago. Besides, this diary was made in a wooden cover with a painted bird on it. And it all together just captivated me.”

“Since the book contains texts in Russian, I decided to make a translation into English, by placing it on a separate insert, so as not to distort the impression of the book as of the found object. I wanted the color of the paper for the insert to be in contrast with the main book block, but at the same time, it should be understood that it is an integral part of the book, so I chose the designer paper to match the cover.”

The resulting photographs are whimsical, humorous while yet having an undercurrent of melancholy. A young girl’s eyes have become over-sized pink flowers, signifying the wide-eyed amazement of youth and the pink color almost universal of young girls. In another image, a young child is wearing a flower and petals while an older man adjacent to the child has a disturbing brown stem covering his eyes which metaphorically would block his vision. In yet another, a young woman lies prone on the ground, her apparel is now a layer of red petals in stark contrast to the original black and white photograph. Borissova creates beautiful new contexts with her collages and offers few clues as to their meaning, of which fully captivates me.

This book and the concept to alter found photographs have really touched me and it resonates with my parallel interest investigating the various aspects of memory and the attempts to preserve it. That in conjunction with a brilliant design and beautiful construction made this photobook an easy choice for Interesting Photobook of 2014, both for my blog and my selection for Emaho magazine.

As a book object, the hardcover book has an embossed cover and an overall elegant feel created by a careful selection of the interior papers and is accompanied by two inserts, one of which is the English translation of the hand written text, the other is an introduction by Borissova. The hand written text is not in English, assuming Russian, and the ensuing marks on the paper are as abstract as the photographs.  Borissova incorporates tracing paper as a means to signify a break between the beginning of the first and second sections of this photobook. Borissova has indeed ““attach(ed) importance to every detail and there can’t be any minor things.”

Cheers

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