The PhotoBook Journal

July 31, 2017

Alla Mirovskaya – Old family Photos and Deep Sky Objects

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Artist: Alla Mirovskaya (born & resides Moscow, RU)

Self-Published & Limited Edition (100): Moscow (RU) copyright 2016

Text: English & Russian

Stiff cover with glued printed panels, sewn binding, four-color lithography, printed in Moscow (RU)

Photobook designer: Alla Mirovskaya

Notes: I will have to admit that lately I have become fascinated with artist books that utilize vernacular photographs to create a narrative. Perhaps even more so when it becomes apparent that the archive source for the photographic material is from one’s own family. This is probably due in no small part to my personal artistic book practice that utilize photographic material from my own family archive. Thus I find Alla Mirovskaya’s artist book Old family Photos and Deep Sky Objects extremely intriguing in how she layers and creates juxtapositions of her archive photographs with found photographs of distant galaxies and star systems.

One aspect of her vernacular photographs is that these appear to be of family, friends and acquaintances. The same subjects keep reappearing throughout her narrative. Another layer of this charming narrative is the inclusion the images of unknown individuals, which are photographs that have been found but without any notes or other information to inform Mirovskaya as to their identity. We would suspect that these photographs are included in a family archive for a reason. With the inclusion of these additional unknown subjects she further acknowledges how complex memory can be when there are potentially related persons and now their identity appears to be lost to the current generation. In some ways I think that this is another form of death as the memory as to who this person represents has died for the family. I think it might be easy to read that these photographs of individuals relate to the transitional nature of memory and its fragility.

Understanding the physics of the speed of light in space Mirovskaya’s found photographs of deep sky objects is the documentation of events that have occurred thousands and thousands of years ago, an even longer transitional memory that makes our current memories pale in comparison. Nevertheless, these two bodies of work within her book share the same context for memory; something was recorded and we have the opportunity to ponder who/what these individuals/events are? Mirovskaya has confounded the reader with another aspect; she mixes the captions of the individuals with those of the star systems and we are left adrift as to who might be whom. This tactic also unmoors the reader from a word/name association and allows deeper introspection of the book.

Equally fascinating for me is the close similarities of how a family archive from Russia compares to that of my own, which speaks of a universality of family. Perhaps all that more poignant given the current economic and political friction that is occurring now between the two respective countries of Russian and the United States. I think that we need to remember that at the family unit level we all share similar interests related to making a living, ensuring we have substance and a decent roof over our heads, love of our family and memories of our past that we attempt to hold on to.

Mirovskaya’s artist book is a very delightful and complex narrative about family memories in the context of the big picture of our complex and changing universe.

Cheers! Douglas Stockdale

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January 23, 2014

Matej Sitar – America My Way; collector’s edition

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copyright Matej Sitar 2013 self-published by Sitar’s imprint The Angry Bat

When developing a photobook, there are always many decisions to make and one of those to consider is whether to create a limited edition photobook. Some photobooks, such as an artist photobook, are handmade in a very limited quantity. The downside to publishing only an artist photobook is that the small quantity does not allow many, if any, to be available to book reviews, bloggers and magazines. Thus a great many photographers who like the concept of a limited edition book will consider how to develop such a photobook in conjunction with the publication of their general (trade) photobook. The limited edition book may be lurking in the background while the photographer gauges the reception to the trade book or he/she may concurrently release a limited edition version on faith & trust with the trade photobook.

Matej Sitar published both a trade book for America, My Way, reviewed here, as well as a limited edition collector’s edition at the end of 2012, which I would like to discuss today.

The major changes to the collector’s edition is the linen covered solid box case (hinged clam shell with interior pocket) in lieu of the folded stiff-board cover of the trade photobook and the inclusion of an original SX-70 Polaroid print from this project.

The hinged clam shell is a classic design with a slight twist, one interior side is open and the three stiff-covered books slide into an interior pocket. The design retains the interior books while providing easy access for the reader. A really slick & well executed book design by 3ideje, d.o.o.

The SX-70 Polaroid photograph is held in place with classic corner stays, in this case made with the same linen material as those to wrap the clam shell boards. A subtle detail is that each clam shell outer cover has a laser printed image of the corresponding interior Polaroid print. The collector’s edition is limited to the number of SX-70 Polaroid prints, which is an edition of 39, while each book is virtually a 1/1 due to the uniqueness of the SX-70 Polaroid.

All in all, this makes for a very nice presentation. recommended.

The complete review of the trade edition of Sitar’s America,My Way, which includes the interior photographs, can be found here.

Sitar’s America, My Way was selected as one of my interesting photobooks for 2013 with my full selection here.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

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May 12, 2012

Douglas Stockdale – Ciociaria Limited Edition Book + Photograph Set

Copyright Douglas Stockdale 2011

Warning Notice: this is a self-serving personal shout-out about the availability of my book in a Limited Edition Book + Photograph set. You may find yourself spending a small amount of loot while yet making a wonderful investment so be warned before proceeding any further!!

I recently published two small versions of a Limited Edition Book + Photograph Set in conjunction with my hardcover book Ciociaria. The edition size for both versions is 25 and I choose two photographs which were not included in the the book. The photograph and book are signed and numbered with the photograph an archival pigment print. After a number of discussions with Susan Burnstine during the development of this Limited Edition set I opted to go with an inexpensive version to keep my costs lower and a provide a reasonable price of $150.00 per set.

The initial interest in the two Limited Edition sets is good and I am nearing the halfway point for selling the editions. I can’t say they are selling like hotcakes yet but are doing well enough and building a small reserve fund to finance my next book that I hope to be able to announce shortly.

The Fiuggi Edition photograph below, was an interesting turning point for me while working on this project. I had been deferring to a more topographical investigation of the memories of this area, which is to say photographing the urban landscape without the presence of any individuals. As this scene unfolded before me it spoke of another way to create a narrative as to how memory is preserved. But as book designs go with the choice, pairing and sequencing of the images, this photograph did not find a good home within the book. So it seemed a nature to include this as a special edition.

Fiuggi Editon

The other version of the Limited Edition is the Morolo Edition that includes the photograph below. I saw this lyrical web of branches with the different phases of the decaying fruit and hints of the surrounding residences. It speaks to the past memories intersecting with the current moment.

The Limited Edition Book + Photograph sets of Ciociaria will be available from specialty photographic bookstores.

Now available at:

Ampersand, Portland Oregon (Sold out)

photo-eye: Santa Fe, NM

The standard hardcover book at $55.00 is currently available at photo-eye.

Additional interior photographs from the book and links to some of the book reviews can be found here.

Check back as I expect this bookseller list to grow.

Best regards, Doug

Morolo Edition

 Now back to your normal programing…

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