The PhotoBook

February 12, 2015

Carolyn Drake – Wild Pigeon

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Copyright Carolyn Drake 2014, self-published

This photobook by Carolyn Drake (b. 1971 Los Angeles, CA and currently resides in Mississippi) incorporates an allegory story of the same name, Wild Pigeon, written by Nurmuhemmet Yasin who is a Uyghur author. The Yasin story narrates the Uyghur experience in this remote region of Western China (XinJiang Uyghur Autonomous Region). Like much of China the Western region has been undergoing extensive changes to “modernize” the country, with huge scale dismantling of the pre-existing structures.

This dismantling and rebuilding process was very evident to me while visiting Eastern China six years ago and from what I learned, the “modernization” process was occurring simultaneously across this huge nation. The Chinese reaction to this modernization process is extremely mixed. In the Western region of the Uyghur, it takes on another layered meaning, as the Uyghur besides being physically different as compared to the Han Chinese are also predominantly Muslim. The underlying conflict is palpable in her narrative.

Drake’s resulting photobook is an interesting mix of photography; her photographs, found photographs, photographs that have been altered by her subjects within a meandering text from Yasin’s story. The sequencing of the photographs are pared to reveal the region’s contradictions; a fully concealed women across the book’s gutter from the photograph of unabashed men bathing, a lush oasis resplendent with amusement water-toys facing a photograph of an arid and dry desert landscape, a woman who sits in a pose that appears to be in prayer which is across and facing a man who leans over his motorcycle’s handlebars, fingers intertwined and illuminated by the evening light, as might be coming of a lion on the prowl, and whose gaze is directed across the page back at the girl on the opposing spread. The pairing of her photographs creates a subtle tension that runs through out this book.

Drake in an attempt to help facilitate communication and bridge cultures provided opportunities for her subjects to creatively interact with her photographic prints. They in turn created personal and layered messages by means of drawings, text and collages, of which the ensuring results remind me of Jim Goldberg’s photobook  Open See.

Her narrative is perhaps similar to the story line in the novel Animal Farm written by George Orwell; that in modern China, not all equals are in fact equal.

The hardcover book has sections of irregular sized pages and continuously shifting photographic image orientations (horizontal and vertical images) and includes a smaller stiff-cover booklet, sewn binding, that is glued to the inside of the back cover. The Wild Pigeon story is by Nurmuhemmet Yasin and translated into English by Dr. Dolkun Kamberi and interspersed throughout the book, with an Afterword by Drake.

As in her pervious self-published photobook, Two Rivers, she has teamed up with the talented Dutch photobook designer Sybern (-SYB-) Kuiper as her collaborator. Carolyn Drake’s Two Rivers was previously reviewed on the The Photobook and was selected as one of my Interesting Photobooks for 2013 that was published in the annual photo-eye Best Photobooks listings.

Cheers!

Note: Carolyn Drake states that Yasin, the author of this story, was imprisoned ten years ago for “inciting separation” (subversive or ideologically corrupting) in the publication of Wild Pigeon and currently his fate is unknown.

Cheers

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January 27, 2015

Printed Matter’s 2015 LA Art Book Fair

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Printed Matter’s (2015) LA Art Book Fair

This coming weekend on the Left Coast is what is becoming an annual event; Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair which will take place again at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.

As I have written about the past (2014) LA Art Book Fairs taking place at MOCA, this building is a maze of rooms, small hidden rooms, medium size display areas and a huge room usually reserved for the Zine world. A ton of books, magazines, zines that are new and old (“collectibles”) that can overwhelm the senses. Fortunately the food trucks out the front doors can provide sustenance to help you endure. In past years there was a section reserved for photobooks up on the mezzanine, but guessing there will be spot somewhere.

Schedule:

Preview Thursday 29th January, 6-9pm
Friday January 30th, 12–7pm
Saturday January 31st, 11-7pm
Sunday February 1st, 11-6pm

Also nice about this event: FREE Admission!

Cheers!

January 16, 2015

Michelle Frankfurter – Destino

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Copyright Michelle Frankfurter 2014 published by FotoEvidence

This is my first review of the photobook series published by Svetlana Bachevonaova and FotoEvidence, which is a non-profit organization that focuses on the global issues of Social Justice.

Michelle Frankfurter (b. April 1961, Jerusalem, Israel – living in the US since 1967 and currently resides near Washington DC) is using a classic black and white photographic medium (film) in a documentary style to investigate the illegal influx into southern United States. Frankfurter sequences her photographs to allow us to follow the progress of a journey, laden with boredom and interspersed with moments of sheer terror, from Central America to the various Mexican borders of the United States.

Her subjects, single individuals to entire multi-generational families, have meager economic means thus they leverage the available Central America commercial transportation infrastructure, primary riding atop freight trains. To further understand what lengths these individuals were willing to undertake, Frankfurter similarly hopped onto one of these same freight trains to ride alongside her subjects. In so doing she shared a part of their perilous journey while enduring the same risks and become an insider, not a casual and emotionally distant observer.

Since I live in Southern California I interact on an almost daily basis with Latinos, and many due to their difficultly with English are most likely a product, directly or indirectly, of a similar journey. In discussions with them about their heritage, they will eventually open up to the circumstances of their arrival and current situation. For those who are “undocumented”, the Politically Correct term for illegal, their lives which although are much better now than where they originated is still fraught with great danger. Nevertheless the enormous efforts and risks undertaken to arrive in the United States are seldom discussed and for the most part unknown to me and most others who live here. Usually discussed in the local news are the events around a terribly failed attempt at a border crossing, perhaps a family who has passed away attempting the trek through the arid desert that lurks in the midst of the U.S. and Mexico borders.

The photographs are very sensitively composed with her subjects photographed from a close and intimate distance. These portraits are intermingled with the passing landscape photographs, slightly larger in scope and providing a context to her subject’s journey. As an example the photobook’s cover image is a subtle story. The man in the right side within the frame has his eyes focused slightly to his right. Then I realize that he is not shifting his gaze away from the photographer, but to whom is probably his family, a woman and small child who are covered with a black plastic cover to protect them from the natural elements on top of the freight car. This photograph provides a poignant narrative as to what this man is actually risking, not just himself, but his entire family. The photograph also asks the reader to consider the uneasy question as why would someone take such a huge risk? These are the unanswered questions that Frankfurter elegantly raises throughout this photobook.

The resulting openness of her subjects comes through in her photographs, perhaps as Frankfurter shares in her introduction, she and her family are also immigrants into the United States, be by much different circumstances. I found that her visual narrative reminds me of the Freedom Train, the illegal movement of the African-Americans preceding the United States Civil War in the 1860’s, a much earlier era of the American history, pursuing similar dreams of freedom.

Her black and white photographs alternate between a full bleed images to a classic border with paper white margins. The images alternate between a single photograph on a double page spread, which provides singular emphasis, to pairs of photographs facing across the book’s gutter. Most of the paired images one image is full frame while the facing image is smaller encircled with large white paper margins, which creates an interesting interaction between the two photographs.

As a book object, this is an Image-wrap hardcover book, while the interior Black & White photographs beautiful printed and bound by the printer in Istanbul, Turkey. The Forward text is provided by Susan Terrio with an Introduction by Frankfurter and the book design is by Mark Weinberg. The photobook includes pagination and the captions are summarized within the end notes as well as an extensive listing of the backers for this publication. This is a book that I also selected for my blog as an Interesting Photobook for 2014.

Cheers!

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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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January 7, 2015

Kate Nolan – Neither

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Copyright Kate Nolan 2014, self-published

Neither is a three year project by Kate Nolan (b. 1979 Dublin, Ireland, where she currently resides) that takes place in Kalingrad, formerly called Königsberg (German), a seaport city and the administrative center of Kaliningrad Oblast, the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea. This place was formed following World War II with the displacement of the native Germans with those who relocated from the interior regions of Russia. What results is a multi-dimensional photobook that is a mashup of written narratives and visual poetry that attempts to investigate feminist identity in the context of a memory of an ambiguous place.

Nolan’s photographs the women of Kalingrad, a mix of portraits, those who directly confront the photographer, thus the viewer, and those who look pensively away. Inter-woven are urban landscapes of a place that shift from the lyrical, a beautiful tree in colorful bloom, to terrifying landscape, a field ablaze in flames. The latter photograph (below) is adjacent to and faces a photograph of a women with a child playing on a ride, while a child faces away unaware of the “approaching” danger.

The smaller stiff-cover booklet contains narratives and is bisected by the larger stiff-cover book containing the full bleed photographs with a floating and separate narrative as a physical sub-text. The front booklet acts as a Forward with hand-written short stories to describe current conditions .The book’s Afterward, formed by the other half of the smaller booklet, contains stories that describe events occurring in 1946 during the formation of Kalingrad, written by the women who were involved in this transition.

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Her photographs are printed full bleed, so the photographs are physically joined at the seamless gutter, one photograph slamming into the other, creating interesting diptychs, that can be read singularly or as a panoramic whole.

This project appears autobiographical as Nolan is investigating the subject of the identity of young women within society with perhaps some similarities to her own circumstances.

As a book object, this is a crazy and complex design with a lot of moving parts that include three distinct sections; one smaller stiff-cover book that is bisected by the larger stiff-cover volume, held together by a sewn binding and a clear poly band. Within the larger volume is another narrative on separate pages, essentially a mini-booklet within a book and can be read independent of the pages above.

Due to the design and sewn binding of the larger volume, the interior narrative pages slightly brush and physically interact with the photographic pages, creating a subtle tension between the two. The book is a lay-flat book design that makes it a joy to read.

This photobook was designed and developed in collaboration with the creative Dutch photobook designer -SYB- (Sybren Kuiper). The publication of her book was supported by a successful Indiegogo fund raising campaign and I have selected this photobook as one of the Interesting Photobooks for 2014.

Cheers

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December 26, 2014

Alejandro Cartagena – Carpoolers

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Copyright Alejandro Cartagena 2014, self-published

“Carpooling” is an American, maybe Southern Californian, term for an occasion when multiple individuals ride in the same vehicle to the same destination. On the freeways of California the need to increase the quantity of carpoolers in order to relive the increasing congestion has raised the process and infrastructure of carpooling to an art form. Alejandro Cartagena (b. April 1977 Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, now lives in Monterrey, Mexico) became aware of the American phoneme of carpools and diamond lanes on a visit to Southern California and riding on those congested freeways must have been an amazing experience compared to the highways of his home in Monterrey. Nevertheless this southern California experience created the seed of a conceptual idea that would play out later in Monterrey.

The actual process of carpooling is a well-known practice outside of America, where vehicles can be rare, expensive to own as well as operate. Upon first seeing a family of five on an electric scooter in China a few years back was a bit of a cultural shock which quickly wore off when this sight became a common occurrence. Likewise, Cartagena observed how pick-up truck loads of workers were routinely traversing from dense urban sites to new housing and construction areas on the expanding outskirts of the Monterrey region. The carpooling of the Monterrey workers was an economic necessity for the reasons stated above; trucks are both expensive to own and operate and there are few reasonable alternatives to travel to these new construction sites.

Cartagena found a high advantage point, a pedestrian overpass, to create this topology project; a study in carpooling, in which he could look almost straight down into the passing vehicles. The resulting layout of these vehicles take on abstract shapes, a visual mapping that we do not frequently observe, and further reinforcing the topological nature of his project.

There exists both a sameness of his subjects; similar models of the pick-up trucks, organizational layout of the front hood, cab and the back bed of the truck, the differences in the paint and condition, the open bed in which there is a mash-up of workers, equipment and tools; that varied over time and season. It is evident that he became known for making this series of photographs with many of his subjects gazing back at the photographer and thus connecting also with the reader. Many of these photographs are humorous; worker stretched out sleeping during their trip, gazing up and interacting with the photographer, and others showing a bit of concern. His subjects frequently appear cold and huddled together to protect themselves from the windy, chilling ride.

The subtext is an investigation into identity and culture. There are the economic differences between the poorer construction workers providing the labor to the unseen nicer homes and estates of the upper class. Even within the photographs there is an economic narrative; the “first class” ride; which is inside the protected cab along with the driver, and the “economy coach” section, in the open and unprotected back bed of the truck.

To further understand his subjects, Cartagena took a similar ride in the back bed of a truck to see what his subjects were experiencing. Evident was the expansive blue sky marked by the occasional objects that were seen from this prone perspective; overpasses, signage, etc. Cartagena then intertwined these alternative viewpoint photographs to help break up the flow and cadence of his book that in turn provides more tension and dynamics to what could become a very static and repetitive sequencing.

The book layout provides one top view of a pick-up truck one each of the facing pages inviting the reader to provide comparison and take note of the subtle differences between them. The differences over time, who they are and where they are from, as well as where they are going and what are they going to do when they arrive. The interior of the truck bed provides some clues; equipment, tools, and the clothing of his subjects.

As a book object, the hard covers are constructed from raw boards, printed and die cut to reveal an interior pick-up truck that is the subject of the cover’s line drawing; creating an interesting three dimensional visualization. The heavy cover boards provides some heft and protection for the photobook and the color printing by a Mexico City press and bindery is nicely finished. The insightful Afterword essay was provided by Jessica S. McDonald.

Cheers!

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December 23, 2014

Laura Curran – Lots of Cake!

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Copyright Laura Curran, 2014 self published/After Image Publishing

From the moment that I first saw the photographs from Laura Curran’s photobook Lots of Cake!, her project resonated with me. The project was made all the more delightful in the layout and design of this photobook object.

Curran uses a documentary style to investigate her family, with her mother as the focal point of this introspective study. She focuses in on small details to identify for the reader the various talismans for this family’s memory.

She includes a series of four hand-written family recipes printed on a semi-translucent sheet of vellum and sequenced in conjunction with photographs of what the resulting recipe may create, an interesting layering of this narrative. The recipe for the Easter Bunny Cake (aka Easter Carrot Cake) faces a page with a photograph of two bunny shaped cakes on top of a table with English china. In turn, this translucent page provides a hint of the photograph on the following page, of someone, whom we might guess is her mother, sitting at a table perhaps eating the ears of one of these wonderful Bunny Cakes.

As the photographs sequence through the book, her subjects appear to be more and more involved in the celebration, holding up glasses for a toast, sitting a bit askew on a chair and other hints of evidence that a good times are occurring. Likewise, the first recipe appears orderly and clean, but subsequent recipes appear more and more distressed.  The final Chowder Recipe is almost illegible due to something liquid falling on the recipe and creating a large lake of ink. As an autobiographical narrative, this hints that sometimes her family and events become similarly messed up.

I find a subtle undercurrent of humor in her photobook, perhaps of my own making as I recall the times when my great aunts, also of Irish descent, would get together in the kitchen to cook, gossip, laugh and tell family stories while preparing some delicious meals. The photograph of the broken egg on the floor with the two pair of legs & feet in the background is wonderful, full of suspense as to what might occur next; a torrent of laughing or some evil eye followed by quick scurrying to clean up this little mishap. In our family it was going to be the former, hearty laughing which was always a good reason to begin to recounting the endless other funny stories of similar past events.

There is more than enough ambiguity to allow the reader to relate to their own family history and memories that for me always seem to be linked to the preparation and consumption of meals.

As a book object, this is a little more complex stiff-cover book that is perfect bound (nice to hold and read, but terrible to lay out for display or photograph), includes two gatefolds and four recipes printed on velum. This photobook is printed in four color, with ample white margins, but no captions. The layout of the photographs on each page appears to be in a random position located on a different part of each subsequent page. This image layout provides a bit of dynamics implying that even when the events could seem routine, such as baking a cake, serendipity can create some unanticipated, if not dynamic, results. The introduction is provided by Curran.

Cheers!

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November 14, 2014

Hiroshi Watanabe – The Day the Dam Collapses

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Copyright Hiroshi Watanabe 2014 co-published by Daylight Books and Tosei-sha Publishing Co., Ltd

First I need to declare that I may be a tad bit biased in my photobook review as I was one of the text editors for this book.

Hiroshi Watanabe’s (b. Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan 1951, currently resides in Los Angeles since 1975) recent photobook, The Day the Dam Collapses, is unusual in as he is well known for his photographic projects utilizing black and white film while this book project is completed with color/digital capture.

Watanabe has been making color digital “snapshots” for many years while deferring to his medium format camera and 120/220 film for his more serious projects. Since the birth of his recent child, he has become a bit more reflective and over a period of five years built a large body of color digital work. What I find interesting is that Watanabe will zoom in to examine the details and introduce a high degree of ambiguity, much as he does with his large format capture. In this regard, he has a consistency of vision.

Watanabe is very familiar with a square image that results from his medium format camera, the square being an inherently a static framing as compared to a traditional 35mm format or 8 x 10” image. Even though his digital camera has the capability to create rectangular images, Watanabe imposes the equal sided format that he is so comfortable with. After so many years working with a 6 x 6 vision he is able to introduce a delicate balance and tension within this structured format. The square image, printed one per page, seem to gain some dynamic energy due to the random placement within the page’s frames.

The photographs upon first reading appear playful, but with closer examination, an undercurrent of tension and drama develops. This is apparent as both singular images and as well as the carefully pairing of images as they play off each other across the book’s gutter. In one page spread, below, an object that appears to be childlike is awash and submerged on the shoreline surf. There appears to be a large air bubble above the face, as though the air is being exhaled. The agitation of the water and this object being total submerged is startling as it is disturbing.  One the facing page is photograph of a bare tree or bush situated in front of a wall, revealing the skeleton of the plant’s structure. This plant may be dormant at the moment or has died. For the reader, both of these images are ambiguous and both have a dark undertone that is further reinforced by their approximation on the page spread.

Interestingly, the book’s title hints at a pending disaster, creating more tension, which is subsequently elaborated on by Watanabe in his Afterword. He acknowledges that the reader and everyone we know will as some point die, when we never know. Nevertheless we take for granted the normal, banal aspects of our lives as though we might live forever, a somewhat fatalistic viewpoint. Watanabe is essentially evocating that the reader should remain grounded in the moment and see the wonderful things as these are today.  The book’s dust cover provides another metaphoric reading; perhaps life is as delicate and fragile as the wings of a butterfly.

As a book object, this was designed in conjunction with the Daylight team in the US and subsequently printed in conjunction with Tosei-sha in Japan, an interesting collaboration that was orchestrated by Watanabe. The dust cover is printed on an interesting paper with a beautiful texture, although I also note that this paper is also a dirt magnet, so handle carefully.  The essay was written by Watanabe with the text provided in English and Japanese. The pages are numbered while the photographs lack captions.

One aspect of this photobook that does bother me is that although this is a very beautifully printed object, the binding does not allow a lay flat viewing for the reader as you will note the inclusion of my hand frequently in the book’s interior photographs, below. The flip side is that this is a stronger book binding technique.

Other Watanabe photobooks reviewed on The Photobook include: Love Point, Veiled Observations and Reflections, 99 Findings (iTunes which includes my interview of Watanabe), Ideology in Paradise, Findings.

Cheers!

This photobook review co-published in EMAHO magazine.

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October 17, 2014

Laia Abril – The Epilogue

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Copyright Laia Abril 2014 Published by Dewi Lewis

Laia Abril (b. 1986 Barcelona, Spain, currently resides in NYC and Barcelona) continues to develop narratives that probe identity issues for women. In The Epilogue, she expands on her earlier photographic project Thinspiration, a self-published zine investigating a pro-anorexia community, essentially women and girls, with obsessive eating disorders who are wasting away. In The Epilogue, unlike her subjects who are anonymous, aloof and distant as they are in Thinspriation, we are fully immersed into the initiate details of one extended American family who is still dealing with a daughter/sister/nice and her tragic binging and purging disorder and ultimately their grief, frustration and loss.

Abril provides a complex and multi-layered voice in conjunction with an interesting mashup of old family photographs, interviews, medical documents, letters and her own photographs. She creates a documentary approach for the own landscapes and portraits of the individuals who have been affected by the principal subject of this story, Cammy (Mary Cameron Robinson, American). Abril’s narrative jumps into the middle of the current family’s situation many years after Cammy’s passing. In the book’s captions Abril uses informal nick-names for her subjects that create a sense of intimacy; while Cammy’s full identity is provided later as this unsettling narrative progresses and then as a newspaper obituary, one of many documents that are inserted into the book’s interior.

In the historical family photographs of Cammy, it is not empirically evident that she had an eating disorder, as she appears to look rather normal, unlike the thin and emaciated appearance of those suffering from Anorexia (Anorexia Nervosa). In many ways, Cammy’s outward appearance is similar to a photograph, as surface appearances cannot tell an entire story, but only provides the vaguest of hints.

This sad tale is similar to a mystery novel in Abril’s attempt to discover an unknown person; she interviews the indirect victims of Cammy’s demise: her mother, father, brother, roommate, boyfriend, aunt, cousin, and doctor. In the end we are provided some evidence of Cammy’s life, that she suffered a traumatic life and ending, while leaving an open ended question of how to deal with someone who has a eating disorder. Equally important it calls into question the media’s fascination with the ultra-thin body-image of models, creating the associated cultural peer pressure as to what constitutes “beauty” and “attractiveness” resulting in self-esteem issues and in this case an unhealthy eating disorder.

This unsettling book is a call to action, but can only point to the pending consequences and the potential frustrations experienced by those who are caught up as events unfold. Eating disorders are now global, predominantly (85%) experienced by teen girls and young women but perhaps more prevalent in Western Countries, especially the United States, where this narrative takes place. Thus Cammy, her family and support structure in America is the untended role model to place a face on eating disorders.

I had earlier wrote about how she and her book designer/collaborator Ramon Pez have carefully designed and created what they are calling tri-fold pages into this book object. The revealed panel extends the narrative as well as symbolically “breaking the book” as each of the four tri-fold-pages correspond to a photograph when the subject of the book, Cammy, has experienced a severe break down in her life’s journey. This is yet another testimony that a book design can further reinforce, and in this case, literally extend a narrative. Let’s see if you can do that with your e-pad!

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My one niggle is the black printing on the dark blue page stock at the very conclusion of the book and the tip-in on the book’s front cover which borders almost on being illegible (darn hard to read!). I am guessing that Abril and Pez have a symbolic meaning for this design aspect; it did not come quickly to me.

The book design was complete by Abril in conjunction with Ramon Pez and beautifully color printed by Grafiche Antiga (Italy). The book cover has a tipped in image and the interior also includes gate-folds, inserted letters, documents, and a newspaper obituary.

This photobook review was co-published on EMAHO magazine; here.

Other books by Laia Abril reviewed on The PhotoBook: Thinspiration

Cheers!

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October 11, 2014

America Latina Photographs 1960 – 2013

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Published by Fondation Cartier pour l’art contermporain  with Museo Amparo, copyright the artist, 2013 & distributed by Thames & Hudson

Last year an exhibition catalog, America Latina Photographs – 1960 – 2013, was published jointly by the two exhibiting museums, one in Paris and the other in Mexico for the exhibitions subsequently occurring in 2014.

This is an expansive survey of America Latina photography that includes almost every country in South America, Central America and the nations of the Caribbean Sea. The list of photographers that are included is impressive, with many photographs relatively unknown beyond their own borders. The partial list of photographers includes Elias Adasme (Chile), Carlos Altamirano (Chile), Francis Alys (Mexico), Claudia Andujar (Brazil), Ever Astudillo (Colombia), Artur Barrio (Brazil) Luz Maria Bedoya (Peru), Oscar Bony (Argentina), Barbara Brandli (Venezuela), Marcelo Brodsky (Argentina), Miguel Calderon (Mexico), Johanna Calle (Colombia), Luis Camnitzer (Uruguay), Bill Caro (Peru) Guillermo Deisler (Chile), Felipe Ehrenberg (Mexico), Juan Manuel Echavarria (Colombia), Roberto Fantozzi (Peru), Jose A. Figueroa (Cuba), Carlos Garaicoa (Cuba), Anna Bella Geiger (Brazil), Daniel Gonzalez (Venezuela), Graciela Iturbide (Mexico), Claudia Joskowicz (Bolivia), Adriana Lestido (Argentina), Marcos Lopez (Argentina), Rosario Lopez (Colombia), Pablo Lopez Luz (Mexico), Teresa Margolles (Mexico), Marcelo Montecino (Chile), Damian Ortega (Mexico), Pablo Ortiz Monasterio (Mexico), Leticia Parente (Brazil), Luis Pazos (Argentina), Rosangela Renno (Brazil), Miguel Rio Branco (Brazil), Lotty Rosenfeld (Chile), Eduardo Ruben (Cuba), Graciela Sacco (Argentina), Gegina Silveira (Brazil), Susana Torres (Peru), Jorge Vall (Venezuela), Eduardo Villanes (Peru) and Facundo De Zuviria (Argentina).

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The photographers are segmented by four broad themes; Territory, The City, Informing/Resisting, and Memory and Identity. The central theme to the book is the on-going political and economic instability of this region and the resulting personal chaos that results as described in the introductory text The Violence of Modernity, Latin America Since the Late 1950’s by Oliver Campagnon.

This is a book that is a bit like a delightful jelly sandwich, as the content is very tasty, but spread very thin. Each photographer is represented by only a few photographs, thus providing only the briefest glimpse of those whose careers may span 10, 20 or 30 years. What this exhibition catalog does help provide is a little more insight into the diverse photographic work occurring in a region that has had limited exposure to the Western press. I will have to admit that this book sat on my reading stand for an extended duration as many of the photographers and their work were unknown to me and I needed time to absorb their stories. This is a recommended book that should pique a reader’s interest on the photographic work taking place in America Latina.

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The hard cover book has an exposed taped binding (Swiss Binding) thus the large text block is hanging by the endpapers on the back cover, which seems pretty substantial, yet makes for an interesting photobook design. Another text was provided by Luis Camnitzer, and there is an illustrated Biography section for each photographer that attempts to provide additional information, a selected Bibliography on Latin American Art and a Timeline of Latin American Histories to provide additional context. The engaging graphic design was by Olivier Andreotti (Paris) and the book was beautifully printed by Artegrafica (Verona, Italy).

Graciela Iturbide’s photobooks have been featured previously on The PhotoBook; El Bano de Frida and El Bano de Frida Kahlo

Cheers

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America_Latina_Photographs-Marcos_Lopez

America_Latina_Photographs-Eduardo_Villanes

America_Latina_Photographs-Teresa_Margolles

America_Latina_Photographs-Marcelo_Brodsky

America_Latina_Photographs-Pablo_Ortiz_Monasterio

America_Latina_Photographs-Rosario_Lopez

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