The PhotoBook

August 26, 2015

Max Pam – Atlas Monographs

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Copyright 2009 Max Pam

Photographer: Max Pam (born Melbourne, resides in Australia)

Publisher: T&G Publishing, Sydney, Australia

Essays: Max Pam, Stephen Muecke

Text: English (primarily)

Hardcover book with dust jacket with one fold-out, sewn binding, four-color lithography, Index of Plates, printed & bound in Taiwan

Photobook designer: Gianni Frinzi

Notes: This photobook is a compilation of eight travel journals (artist books) created by Pam, beginning with Pam’s Karakoram (2006) and shifting back through the decades to his first journals created in 1970. The journals map through a wonderful mixture of texts, photographs, paintings and marks on paper his engagement and interactions with the cultures he has traveled through. The development of his journalist process provides a platform for his own development as a photographer, writer and as an artist. Recommended

Other Max Pam photobook reviews: Max Pam – Ramadan in Yehmen (Editions Bessard)

Book Award: Best Photography Book of the Year, International Category, PhotoEspana (2010)

Cheers, Doug

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Note: This reviewed photobook is part of a limited edition set with custom illustrated box (bottom image below) and signed/numbered silver gelatin print (top image below)

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August 20, 2015

Aaron Siskind – Another Photographic Reality

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Copyright 2014 the estate of Aaron Siskind

Photographer: Aaron Siskind (1903 – 1991) USA

Publisher: University of Texas Press, Austin (TX) (first published by Editions Hazan, Paris, 2014)

Essays: Charles Traub, Gilles Mora

Text: English

Hardcover book with dust jacket, sewn binding, four-color lithography, Chronology, Bibliography, List of Photographs, printed in Italy

Photobook designer: Nicolas Hubert

Notes: A photographer who first came into recognition for his documentary photographs of NYC as part of Photo League. Siskind then evolved into one of the ground breaking and subsequent prominent photographers making the conceptual leap into Abstraction and his close friendship with Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell. He viewed photography as a visual language of signs, metaphors and symbols as the equivalent of poetry and music.

Cheers, Doug

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August 18, 2015

Dragana Jursic – YU The Lost Country

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Copyright 2014 Dragana Jursic

Photographer: Dragana Jursic (b. Yugoslavia, resides Ireland)

Publisher:  Oonagh Young gallery

Essay: Dragana Jursic

Text: English

Hardcover book, sewn binding, four-color lithography, with captions (Rebecca West/Dragana Jurisic), printed in Luxembourg

Photobook designer: Oonagh Young

Notes: Jursic documents her journey, retracing the steps of Rebecca West’s 1937 novel Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, through what was Yugoslavia, where she was born, but a “country” which no longer exists; a poignant mashup of memory and identity. Recommended.

Cheers, Doug

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August 17, 2015

Minor White – Manifestations of the Spirit

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Copyright 2014 the estate of Minor White

Photographer: Minor White (1908 – 1976 USA)

Publisher:  J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Essay: Paul Martineau

Text: English

Hardcover book, sewn binding, four-color lithography, list of plates, pagination and captions, printed in China

Photobook designer: Jeffrey Cohen

Notes: A beautifully printed retrospective monograph, which also functions as an exhibition catalog, of a modern photographer who was a creative photographic innovator, poet, teacher and one of the co-founders as well as the first editor of Aperture magazine. Known for his spirituality and equivalence inspired photographs. Note: this extensive and well-illustrated monograph contains only White’s black and white photographs and does not contain any of his later color photographs.

Cheers, Doug

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August 14, 2015

Lori Vrba – The Moth Wing Diaries

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Copyright 2015 Lori Vrba

Photographer: Lori Vrba (born Texas, resides North Carolina (USA))

Publisher: Daylight Books

Essay: Del Zogg

Text: English

Hardcover book, sewn binding, Index of Plates, four-color lithography, printed & bound in China

Photobook designer: Ursula Damm

Notes: A delightful book filled with dreamlike black & white toned photographs that investigate memory and identify. (Extracted from the publisher); Vrba’s meticulously composed photographs are packed with symbolism drawn from art, folklore, mythology and biblical references. He subjects are actors performing parts in a series of dreamlike vignettes that tell universal stories of love, loss and the passage of time, and examine the simultaneous joy and pain of motherhood, love and being an artist. very nice.

Cheers, Doug

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August 12, 2015

Julia Borissova – address

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Copyright 2015 Julia Borissova

Photographs, collages & drawings: 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 about 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.

Cheers, Doug

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August 11, 2015

Kenny Braun – Surf Texas

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Copyright 2014 Kenny Braun

Photographer: Kenny Braun (born & resides TX, USA)

Published & copyright: 2014

Publisher: University of Texas Press, Austin, TX

Essays: Stephen Harrigan

Text: English

Hardcover book with dust jacket, sewn binding, lithographic printing, printed & bound in China

Photobook designer: DJ Stout & Barret Fry

Notes: Braun’s lyrical black and white photographs investigate the excitement and emotional rush of surfing in the context of the culture and lifestyle of those who participate in this coastal sport. This narrative is from an insider’s perspective as this is Braun’s own Texas surfing turf.

Cheers, Doug

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August 7, 2015

Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin – Scarti

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Copyright 2013 Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin

Photographers: Adam Broomberg (born South Africa) & Oliver Chanarin (born UK) both reside in UK

Concept: Gigi Giannuzzi (d. December 2012), publisher Trolley Books

Published & copyright: 2013

Publisher: Trolley Books (UK)

Text: English

Hardcover book with tipped in image, sewn binding, four-color lithography, printed in Italy

Photobook designer: Fernando Gutierrez

Notes: A photographic concept envisioned by the late Gigi Giannuzzi, created by the double printing of the interior press sheets (scarti di avviamento) to clean the press drums, which these were created after the printing of Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin’s photobook Ghetto. The random and unanticipated resulting images would have been equally enjoyed by the Surrealist. nice.

Cheers, Doug

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August 6, 2015

A change in my photobook commentaries

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Photograph copyright Dragana Jursic 2015 (YU The Lost Country)

I have been contemplating some changes to this blog for a while now, due to a combination of factors. First is the large quantity of photobooks that are being published at an almost dizzying rate since I started this blog in 2008. Second is the growing quantity of high quality, creative and delightful contemporary photobooks and self-published artists books. At times I am overwhelmed with wonderful photobooks, and while taking the necessary to spend time to enjoy each of these, this precludes having the time to writing about them. Yet these great books deserve a shout out to the photographic book community at large to increase the awareness, part of the purpose of this blog.

Second half of this is the time that I have available to write about photobooks is shared with time I can spend on my personal photographic projects and photobooks (yes, I do have a day job that can be equally demanding). Thus the more time I spend with the books of others, the less time I have to spend on developing my own. Regretfully this is a balancing act and one that I have not been too good at with both parts suffering as of late.

Now here is the thing, I really enjoy creative photobooks, so I will continue to collect. Second, I am a photo-blogger so I will continue to write about photobooks. Thus I am going to try using my Facebook format on this blog for a while to provide a more concise shout out about the books I like. You should see more book shout outs and a lot more often that before. That in turn should allow me some guilt-free time to work on my own photographic projects. nice!

So let’s see how this works for a while.

Cheers!

June 14, 2015

Gytis Skudzinskas – Albumas

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Gytis Skudzinskas, copyright 2014, self-published limited edition (edition size: 99) artist book

I must admit I really enjoy serendipity that when I am contemplating a photobook concept to explore only then to receive an artist’s photobook exploration of a similar concept. Such is the case of Gytis Skudzinskas’s artist book Albumas (Album), a recreation of a family album that differs in that the accompanying photographs are inverted, images face down. For each page spread there is one page containing the inverted photographs, while on the facing page there is a contour illustration of the rectangular shapes that echo the opposing mass. Within the contour drawing there are English captions that I suspect translate the handwritten text on the facing photographs.

Family albums are meant to contain photographs that are personal talismans to elicit memories of events and the persons who were involved in this events. As a memory aid to help with the recall, or to share this “information” with another person, the back of these photographs would be personally notated. Over time the specifics of events begin to fade, or become interpreted, jumbled, fragile, thus the hand written notes are expected to help trigger the memories as a memory aid. When dissociated from the originator, the photographs take on other meanings. This is further compounded when the albums are passed down to successive generations and the originators, as well as the subjects, are no longer available to provide a detailed telling of the implied story. These lost memories and historical context become open to interpretation by the reader as new narratives are created.

In Skudzinskas’s investigation of personal memories and identity, he has made collages of these photographic prints before re-photographing them, with the prints stacked, layered, and overlapping each other, held together with a very visible tape to bind the image together. As to say that memories are complex, layered, overlapping and messy. When he stacks photographs on top of another, concealing underlying images, the implication is that a photograph cannot reveal everything and at best provides half-truths if any truth at all. Thus Skudzinskas is also making a statement about the inaccuracies of photographic medium.

By reversing the photographs Skudzinskas, the actual photographic image is concealed, hidden and unknown, thus increasing the tension and mystery of the subject he is working with. Perhaps as a tease, each artist book contains within the front fly page actual photographs that are taped face down similar in fashion to the book’s contents. I found it tempting to remove the tape and examine the actual photograph, similar in desire while reading this book, asking what these concealed photographs really look like? It has been temping, as the tape is not permanent and could be easily lifted from the page, but in doing so would break the spell, as the anticipated image of my imagination is far grander that what might be revealed. This book is all about imagination as to what might be revealed, such as when one notes states “It is a pleasure to dig trenches when girls are next to you”. For me, the image possibilities are endless.

Interestingly the resulting photographic collages resemble the abstract grid-based cubic paintings by the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. Whereas Mondrain’s color pallet eventually evolved into the three basic colors, Skudzinskas’s pallet is the muted and monochromatic colors of aging paper. The back of these prints are a narrative about passing time, loss, and aging while the dates of the prints indirectly speak to our mortality.

Similar to Mondrain, Skudzinskas emphases form over content, his images reduced to a series of overlapping rectangular shapes that are interlocking panels; building off each other, dependent upon the other to create a geometric shape, as one photograph builds off the content of another. Unlike Mondrain’s solid color fields, the mottled photographic prints resemble the later generation of Abstract Expressionist paintings. The handwriting on the verso of the prints is a series of flowing calligraphic lines. As undecipherable text to me, they take on graphic marks that fill in the rectangular voids.

This is a mysterious book of opposites, what is usually concealed in an album is revealed while those aspects that are usually visible, are concealed. The contour drawing of the opposing photographic collage functions as a mapping of memory. I am really intrigued with this book’s concept, design and materials of construction and named it as one of my More Interesting Photobooks for 2014.

The small book has stiff covers with a facsimile of an old album cover attach to the front cover and the book is hand sewn by Japanese stab binding with Japanese folded pages. My copy has two original old photographs taped lying face down on the front interior fly page, which I suspect is unique to each book in this edition. As a result of the book design and stab binding, this is not a lay flat book and dates are provided for the creation of the opposing line drawings for each spread. An Afterword in Lithuanian is provided by Ricardas Sileika.

Gytis Skudzinskas was previously featured on The PhotoBook: Tyla (Silence)

cheers!

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