The PhotoBook Journal

February 14, 2019

Ute and Werner Mahler – Kleinstadt

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Ute and Werner Mahler, Kleinstadt, 2018

Photographers: Ute Mahler born 1949, former GDR and Werner Mahler born 1950, former GDR, both reside in Hamburg, Germany

Publisher; Hartmann Projects, Stuttgart, Germany

Hard Cover, linen with foil-stamped lettering, thread-sewn, 144 pp., 69 Duotone black-white images, Width: 26 cm, Length: 32 cm

Language(s): German/English

Book Designer: Florian Lamm

Notes: “The places where life works – that is not where we photographed,” comments Ute and Werner Mahler, one of the most famous living artist photographer couple in Germany. Over a period of three years, they travelled to more than 100 small towns to take portraits of young people, architecture, and still life. The result is this wonderful photo book, which was sold out after only six months, and is already out in its second edition.

In the same way Robert Frank traveled across America in the 1950s, the Mahlers drove across Germany these days to find small towns that are not listed in any guidebooks and where the last waves of redevelopment already occurred more than 50 years ago. In these small towns, they found neither sights nor attractions, only vacant shops, grazing horses in derelict greenhouses, barking dogs behind shop windows, or simply empty lots overgrown with ferns.

The rhythm of the book has an impressive effect on the viewer. It alternates between portraits, architectural images, and some wondrous still life’s. The black and white portraits, taken with a large-format camera, focus exclusively on young people who were born into these dreary small towns and who must ask themselves upon finishing school: should I stay or should I go?

The group portraits of young people reveals a particular beauty. The photographer couple make a reference here to their previous photo book, Suburban Mona Lisas, which shows young women, who have grown up in dreary prefab housing projects, on their way to becoming adults. From the very beginning, the book took on a cult status, especially among young readers in Germany, and was already out of print shortly after its publication.

Their new long-term project, Kleinstadt, can be read as a very subjective, biographical work by the two German photographers, as they also grew up in small towns, like the protagonists of their pictures. After studying photography in the GDR at the Academy of Fine Arts, and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, they founded the Ostkreuz Agency for photographers, as well as the Ostkreuz School, which still attracts young people from all over the world who want to study journalistic reportage.

Why should you buy this book? The book, with its linen cover and red embossing was very elaborately designed and printed in duotones. The book did not require any text. In a very laid-back and sometimes somewhat melancholy, but never boring, manner, the pictures tell their story about forgotten yet still-existent areas all over Germany.

Review – Kristin Dittrich, Director Shift School for contemporary Photography, Dresden, Germany

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Fotografie/ Ute Mahler & Werner Mahler: Kleinstadt

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Fotografie/ Ute Mahler & Werner Mahler: Kleinstadt

 

January 25, 2019

Dawoud Bey – Seeing Deeply

Filed under: Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 2:48 pm

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Photographer:  Dawoud Bey (born in Queens, New York City; lives in Chicago, Illinois)

Publisher:  University of Texas Press, Austin, TX; © 2018

Essays:  Sarah Lewis, Deborah Willis, David Travis, Hilton Als, Jacqueline Terrassa, Rebecca Walker, Maurice Berger, and Leigh Raiford

Language:  English

Clothbound hardcover with illustrated dust jacket; 400 pages, paginated, with 129 color and 136 black-and-white photographs; 11 ½  x 12 ¼ inches; printed in Germany by Dr. Cantz’sche Druckerei Medien GmbH

 

Notes:   This photobook is a 40-year retrospective of the work of the distinguished photographer Dawoud Bey, who is also a well-received Professor of Art at Columbia College in Chicago. Others before him have contributed perspectives on some of the same US communities, especially James Van Der Zee, Walker Evans, Gordon Parks, and Roy DeCarava; some of these predecessors of his left us with interesting insights into individuals and their surroundings, especially Harlem and other NYC neighborhoods. Over time there has been a significant shift, from a “social documentary” point of view (perhaps as previously expected peering in from the outside) to a more late 20th century and contemporary perspective, a more egalitarian position, that treats the individuals photographed as persons whose lives and creative contributions are to be shared on an equal level.

Bey is certainly a master of peering into the individual’s psyche, while also a master of light and shadow as he crafts his portraits with artistic acumen and compassion. Page after page in this photobook delights us with portraits that are forthright, direct, and honest. We feel we can almost touch the individuals shown; most of them make direct eye contact and share their pride and hope – it is clear that the rapport between the photographer and the individuals photographed was very strong, and this directness also creates a bond between those shown and the viewer.

This large and beautifully printed photobook is divided into nine major sections, with excellent introductory essays that shed light on each particular phase of Bey’s work, as well as illuminating commentary about various related contexts:

1  Harlem

2  Small camera work

3  Polaroid street work

4  Large-size Polaroid portraits (20 x24 inch)

5  Class pictures

6  Character project

7  Stranger / Community

8  The Birmingham Project

9  Harlem redux

Bey’s work features all those photographed as distinct individuals belonging to interesting groups, across various strata of society. There are also some landscapes and cityscapes to present the character of communities. The care this photographer shows with his students is demonstrated in section 5; each of the portraits is accompanied by a brief text that gives us further insights about the individual and his or her connections to others. Section 7 is also quite intriguing – Bey created staged portraits of sets of two different strangers from the same environment that might otherwise not have met, and thus raises a very crucial issue of our time: how united or how divided do we feel or are we really, and most important, what are we moving toward (see image 7 below)?

Some of the other portraits make use of a collage technique, which makes us curious about a particular individual’s other moments and moods, and hints at the individual as more multi-faceted than a single image can show. It is a great testament to Bey that even the Acknowledgments section in the back makes for interesting reading, as it allows us to see his method of collaboration with all who were involved.

This retrospective is much more than that: it is a magnificent testament to what  can be shown about people’s pride and hope, and in an exemplary yet subtle manner seems to posit the idea that all us individuals, no matter what our background and heritage may be, are interested in building a better future and would benefit from collaboration. This photobook is destined to become a classic!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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January 16, 2019

Ikuru Kuwajima – Tundra Kids

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Photographer:  Ikuru Kuwajima (born in Japan; lives in Moscow, Russia)

Publisher:  Schlebrügge.Editor, Vienna, Austria; © 2015

Texts:  Introduction; folktale “How the mighty eagle returned the sun to the Nenets people”

Languages:  Nenets, English, German

Stiff covers leporello (accordion) foldout; 83 pages with 58 color images; 16 x 16 cm; printed in Austria by Rema Print Wien (Vienna)

Photobook Design:  Ikuru Kuwajima, Dorothea Brunialti

 

Notes:  Every once in a while we see a photobook that hits all the right spots. In Tundra Kids, Ikuru Kuwajima, a multicultural photographer – born in Japan, studied in the United States, and now lives in Russia – has successfully created a book that shows us a minority at the edge of “civilization” through the eyes of their children. They pose for portraits in their schoolrooms and in their rugged northern arctic Russian environment, and show us their perceptions through everyday objects, toys, and drawings, as well as with a native folk tale with a nod to Soviet influence.

It is a real pleasure to handle this photobook of 83 pages of color work, presented in leporello* (accordion) foldout style, printed on both sides. The effect is to create a continuity of images and subjects which, while linear, is more flexible than a conventionally bound book. You can pick up the whole sequence of images, turn them, look at both sides, and view many more than a couple of images at the same time. We get a feeling of interconnectedness as we view the enthusiasm and cooperation of the children who are learning about the big world out there, against the backdrop of their Nomad home areas, in which they spend the rest of their year when school is out.

Images include portraits of the kids joyfully posing in a studio setting created in their classroom; they show us such things as their tents and reindeer antlers, glimpses of their native environment to which they seem proudly connected as they are gaining a global understanding. It is the artwork they share with us that also lets us wonder about how they may maintain their identity in a faster-moving larger context so dominated by helicopters and planes and other forms of intrusion, in contrast to their natural home settings.

A wonderful book that lets us share a different world. Kudos to the Nenets kids and Ikuru Kuwajima!

*The leporello folding of paper, in an accordion-like fashion as shown below, is derived from the character Leporello in Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, who, for comic effect, customarily is performed displaying a long list of his employer’s conquests on a long piece of paper folded in that manner. Note another effective use of this method of photobook presentation in Douglas Stockdale’s Middle Ground, which I reviewed in The PhotoBook Journal previously.

Gerhard Clausing

 

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January 2, 2019

Louis Jay – Passing Fancies

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 5:11 pm

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Photographer:  Louis Jay (born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; lives in Miami and Paris)

Publisher:  Luce Press, Miami, Florida; © 2018

Essay:  Introduction by the photographer

Languages:  English and French

Cloth-bound sewn hardback with printed dust cover, in cloth-covered case; 11 x 14.25 inches; 84 pages with pagination; 64 black-and-white duotone photographs and a complete location index; processed and printed in Italy by Litho Art, Turin, and Stamperia Artistica Nazionale, Trofarello

Photobook Designer:  Sally Ann Field

 

Notes:  It is a pleasure to start 2019 with the presentation of such an attractive large-format photobook. Louis Jay, who worked as a commercial photographer for many years, has returned to his early love of photographing on the street, without succumbing to the clichés of street photography, but supplying streetscapes that let us share astute observations from several locales around the world. This project clearly sparkles, as passionate interest and affection shine through, an approach to photography he learned from Lisette Model many years ago.

Passing Fancies contains 64 images that were created in France, Italy, Portugal, Brazil, and Florida. Most of these areas share a milder climate and perhaps a greater affinity to being outdoors. So we see city life, people of all ages, old and new structures and symbols, moments of work and leisure. This project has a certain indefinable allure, enhanced not only by the quality of the photography and the printing, but also by the large format and the extraordinarily dynamic and creative pairings and continuity.

This photobook makes you want to go back and look at it again and again, a sign of special quality. It is a marvelous study of the delights of everyday moments and thus a tribute to the universality of human experience!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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December 1, 2018

Simon Brugner – The Arsenic Eaters

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Photographer and Concept: Simon Brugner (born in Hartberg, Austria, lives in Vienna, Austria)

Publisher:  The Eriskay Connection, Breda, Netherlands; © 2018

Essays and illustration selections:  Simon Brugner

Text:  English

Stiff covers with yellow vinyl sleeve, bound with the Otabind method; four-color lithography, printed by Wilco Art Books, bound by Patist; 144 pages, with pagination and some captions in Part 2; 21 x 30 cm (8 ¼  x 12 inches); edition of 1250

Photobook Designers/Editors:  Rob van Hoesel, Simon Brugner

 

Notes:  The southeastern Austrian region known in English as Styria, and in German as Steiermark, is a mostly rural area that has the city of Graz as its center of culture and population density. Little has been known about the area’s mostly rural practice of consuming arsenic, which goes back several centuries, and lasted into the last part of the 20th century.

Arsenic was known as “the poor man’s cocaine” – reputed to be a stimulant that had the effects of physical and sexual enhancement, a beauty treatment for women, and even an effective method to temporarily enhance the physical appearance and strength of horses as they were about to be sold. Needless to say, there were also long-term side effects, especially when used to excess, as is the case with many such drugs and substances.

When we first see the cover of this fascinating book, we are not quite sure what we are looking at. Is it a scientific treatise? Is it an investigation with historical significance? Or perhaps a medical reference work? We are certainly curious! Well, it is a little bit of all of these, but most significantly a brilliantly photographed and edited photobook of visuals that tells this story, with a contemporary photographic interpretation by Simon Brugner, along with some insertions of historical material that he collected, in such a way as to retrace the mysteries of the old practice through very creative juxtaposition and sequencing.

This photobook is divided into two parts. The first and major portion is a well-edited visual narrative, of primary interest for purposes of this journal. The images are well sequenced to span the range of mysteries, fables, rumors, and anxieties about the often clandestine use and abuse of this mysterious substance, and to connect the old tales with the environment as it now exists. It seems that a certain tolerance and dependence on arsenic could be built up in some individuals, and thus also a sense of invincibility and anxiety, both for the users as well as for those around them.

Brugner has done a most effective job of photographing contextual connections – geography, mining locations, and contemporary objects and detail, including deterioration and decay – and mixing them with images of individuals from the area, both portraits and parts of the anatomy, as to keep the mystery of the story going. Particularly noteworthy is his use of colors, especially green and brown for the calming background of forests and nature above ground, dark orange-brown as the color of the caves and rocks from which arsenic is extracted, red as the color of blood and sensuality, as well as a harbinger of danger (check out those mushrooms), and, or course, stark monochrome for the historical images.

The second part of the book, consisting of some 30 pages, presents the contextual detail and explanations for the use of arsenic in this region. Brugner provides a number of historical illustrations, abstracts from scientific discussions, as well as other insights gained during the three-year period that it took to prepare this project. This is a highly useful section that sheds a bit of light on the mysteries that were visually presented in the first part.

I consider this photobook a new classic, recommended both as a well-designed narrative that deals with an issue that concerns us in different forms even today – from the fine art perspective, as well as for the presentation of this subject within a context of social and scientific understanding, against a historical perspective.

We have selected this photobook as one of our choices for “Interesting Artist and Photographic Books for 2018.”

Gerhard Clausing

 

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November 21, 2018

Rose Steinmetz – Techenie (течение)

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Books — Tags: , , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 4:41 pm

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Photographer:  Rose Steinmetz (born in the country of Georgia; lives in São Paulo, Brazil)

Self-published, edition of 30; © 2017

Text:  Notes inserted into an envelope, in English and Portuguese

Soft covers, loose-leaf, held by central elastic band with an envelope containing a message, 5.5 x 7.5 inches; 80 pages, unpaginated in black and white

Notes:  I asked to review this project because it struck me as a challenging enigma. The photographer, Rose Steinmetz, who originally hails from the country of Georgia and now lives in Brazil, herself has a background that shares several cultural streams and influences. So it only seems fitting that this photographic project would have an effect that resembles a stream of consciousness of evocative imagery.

20 sheets, printed on both sides and folded in half, constitute 80 pages, of which a few are intentionally left blank to create pauses; they are loosely held together by an elastic string to which an envelope is attached containing some key words that relate to the term techenie, which is meant to imply current, flow, [uncontrolled] movement.

What further makes this interesting is that the viewer of this photobook can first study the flow of the original sequence (participating in the author’s journey), and then reassemble the pages to create different juxtapositions, creating a flow of his or her own, even subtracting some images if desired. I have praised this format before, most recently in my reviews of Douglas Stockdale’s Bluewater Shore and of Rodrigo Ramos’ Ex Corde (From the Heart; De todo corazón). Since there is no flowchart of the original arrangement of the pages, it would be necessary to view the video on the photographer’s website to reassemble the book in its original sequence, or else to decide to keep it in your own arrangement as your very own personal book inspired by the original.

The image sequence is stream-of-consciousness or dream-like, almost like a psychology test; the viewer is clearly transported into a world that resembles a bit of a twilight zone, sequences which challenge you to participate in the interpretation. What is your own flow, what is your own imagination of how things assemble and how life continues? Where do your own cultural influences come to bear, what small details about everyday life do you observe and focus on? And what are you able to ignore?

The images include a range, from tangible everyday objects and a few portraits, bodyscapes, animals, and landscapes, all the way to semi-abstract and abstract compositions. The printing is simple, in glorious copy-machine-like monochrome, which has been practiced by other photographers before, most prominently by Nobuyoshi Araki, and might encourage others to attempt similar photobooks. A delightful project!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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November 18, 2018

Ekaterina Solovieva – The Earth’s Circle. Kolodozero

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Ekaterina Solovieva, The Earth’s Circle. Kolodozero, 2018

Photographer: Ekaterina Solovieva, (Born Moscow, lives in Hamburg, Germany)

Publisher: Schilt Publishing, Amsterdam, copyright 2018

Essay: Ekaterina Solovieva

Text: English, Translation by Diego Benning Wang

Softcover, Swiss Binding, 141 pages, 68 images B&W, 7 1/4 ” x 9 1/2″ x 2 inches, printed in Stuttgart by Offizin Scheufele

Art Direction and Design: Konstantin Eremenko, Moscow

Notes: The cover image of this intriguing photo book is of a bearded man with long hair blowing in the winter wind, looking back over his shoulder with fences of a small village dividing the landscape behind him. Thus we begin to know the subject of this book, a “punk” Moscow seminary graduate who traveled to this remote Russian village with friends searching for the meaning of life, ultimately rebuilding the local church that burned down 40 years previous, in the process revitalizing the spiritual community and binding him to the villagers and to the land.

The photographer, Ekaterina Solovieva, whose work primarily focuses on country folk-life in the former Soviet Union with a special emphasis on religious customs, also provides text to accompany her poetic black and white imagery.  This book takes a bit of time to absorb and fully appreciate. On first viewing, the presentation of the images is compelling: some pages filled entirely with a borderless single image, some images printed on black pages, the next on white. The book is divided into nine segments with titles such as “Easter”, “Fall- Grape of the North”, and “The Interlude to Winter”.

Solovieva’s images convey the essence of this small rural community: bundled up children, older women wearing traditional scarfs inside to keep warm, small shacks barely visible through the brush, abandoned fishing boats swallowed up by the weeds, simple log homes illuminated by window light and candles, some heated with the consumption of strong vodka and late-night conversation, wet mud roads, the metallic shine of cooking pots, the unadorned beauty of apples spilled onto a wooden table.

Solovieva photographs a place and people without pretense, a digital free environment unpolluted with branding on clothes or advertisements dominating the streets. Kolodozero the village seems to exist beyond the reach of commercialism or the creep of digital technology, the villagers lacking in the self-consciousness of modernity. Solovieva photographs the details and intimate moments that give the viewer an understanding of why a young Muscovite seminarian transformed into the village priest and why, unlike friends “who came here and left their hearts and souls” yet “found the strength to return to normal life”, he says of himself “I am the weak one, as I am unable to leave.”  These final lines of text, written in white on a black page like snow falling into a black night, compel the reader to reverse course and view the images of this remote village and the priest who fell in love with its landscape and inhabitants, from back to front, and then front to back again, each time slowing the pace, like the spiritual journey of Father Arkady himself, absorbing the beauty of this chosen life more deeply.

Best regards! Melanie Chapman

Postscript from Ekaterina Solovieva:  Several days after the book was published, on February 12th 2018, I have got sad news from Kolodozero. Priest Arkady Shlykov suddenly died after a heart attack. He was 45 years old. All the years he lived in Kolodozero he took all the problems and sorrows of the people of the village very personally, helped them selflessly. He used to spend hours hitchhiking to the remote communities to baptize, read the funeral service or just serve in the temple. And at some moment his heart gave up. A new priest has been already appointed to the church in Kolodozero. But he won’t be able to serve regularly, and people are yet to get used to him. – Ekaterina

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October 24, 2018

Kranzler – Phelps – The Drake Equation

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Paul Kranzler & Andrew PhelpsThe Drake Equation, 2018 (book miss-printed 2017)

Photographers: Paul Kranzler, (born Austria, resides Linz,Austria and Leipzig, Germany) & Andrew Phelps (born Mesa, Arizona, resides in Salzburg, Austria)

Publisher: Fountain Books (Verlag), Berlin

Essay: Alard Von Kittlitz

Text: English

Without pagination or captions

Hardcover book, bronze embossed linen over boards, tipped-in image on back cover, sewn binding, bronzed page edges, one double gate-fold, four-color lithography, printed by Optimal Media, GmbH (Germany)

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Book Designer: Isabel Latza

Notes: The rural region of Green Bank, West Virginia is a modern paradox; a mash-up of ultra-high technology in the midst of an almost non-tech community, confounded by the fact that this situation is by careful design. Green Bank is the home of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory built in the 1950’s. This high technology site with the astrophysicist who work there, is a series of highly sensitive radio telescopes that are searching the edges of the universe looking for signs of life. Operating this highly sensitive equipment requires the surrounding area is not disturbed by any form of radio activity, such as Wi-Fi, radio stations, cell towers and all forms of electro-magnetic energy, a region classified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as a “radio-free” zone. This has become a region that uses dial-up land line phones, correspondence by letters and requires individuals to actually talk to each other.

Photographers Paul Kranzler and Andrew Phelps co-photographed this project, working together in such a manner that the identity of who actually activated the shutter for a specific image is inconsequential. Both photographers hail from Austria, while Phelps was born in Arizona and has resided in Austria since the early 1990’s and as I have noted in Phelps other photobook looking at the Arizona landscape that over time it appears he has acquired an outsider’s view point. The photographs capture a mash-up of high technology nestled within a community of non-technology, capturing both sides of the Drake Equation. The giant domes are observed facing outward looking into the furthest edges of existence while Kranzler and Phelps photograph those individuals who choose the simple basics of a lifestyle that might be considered the near side of existence.

The visual attributes of the high technology are stunning; the huge organic sculptural shapes of the radio telescopes situated in the sparse rural landscape; massive contradictions of size, shape and mass. These round shapes appear similar to what we think of what alien spacecraft should look like, lurking eerily in this desolate landscape.

In contrast are the intimate studies of those individuals who make this region their home; although there are hard to miss hints, such as the young woman with an off-the-chart iridescent blue hair, that their collective understanding extends beyond this rural community. Nevertheless they create a portrait of a white rural community; a young person cradling a chicken, another young man firing his rifle at something, ball caps, pizza, big belt buckles, camouflage fashion-wear and taxidermy trophies lining the walls.

The writer Alard von Kittlitz’s essay delves into this photographic study of a small region of America as a surrogate for the greater whole. So might Green Bank be a micro-cosmos, a representation of the greater America as postulated by von Kittlitz; I think not. I speculate that Green Bank might have more in common with a David Lynch story that is an odd mix of the surreal with the common, thus it appears like a very mysterious place. Perhaps an interesting place that I would really like to visit if given the opportunity.

Other photobooks by Andrew Phelps previously featured on TPBJ; Not Niigata, and Haboob.

Cheers, Doug

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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 28, 2018

Todd Weaver – 36

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Books, Photographers — Tags: , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 5:56 pm

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Photographer:  Todd Weaver (born in Kansas City, Missouri; lives in Los Angeles, California)

Publisher:  Self-published; © 2018

Essays:  Devendra Banhart; Rodrigo Amarante

Text:  English

Hardcover book, sewn, cloth-bound, debossed cover with tipped-in illustration; 212 paginated pages; 9 ¼ x 11 ¾ inches; printed in the USA by Dual Graphics

Photobook designer:  Todd Weaver

 

Notes: 

What would happen if people portrayed by photographers were given more freedom and control over the process than is usually the case? Who would really be in control?

The title of this innovative photobook refers to the 36 persons who appeared in a specific space, to be photographed by Todd Weaver as THEY might like, moving at will for three minutes for a total of 36 exposures, taken every 5 seconds, while the camera location remained the same. If ever there was true collaboration between photographer and person portrayed, this is it – unprecedented and most intriguing! This project reminded me a bit of the work of Canadian photographer Arnaud Maggs, who photographed individuals from various angles to arrive at a more complete depiction of each person, but Weaver’s approach goes even further.

Here the individuals photographed externalized and structured their appearance and movements and bared their insides as well. We can see a most eclectic series of self-portrayals, produced in collaboration with the photographer as uber-visualizer. The fact that the 36 individuals are artists helps a bit, I think, since their self-concepts and their understanding of self-presentation may be somewhat more developed than in others. This also presented major challenges to the photographer to capture the appearances authentically and with technical dexterity in the short amount of time and with physical restrictions. We see a gamut of emotions and degrees of physicality – some made use of objects that are meaningful to them, some appearing with clothes and some without or fewer than usual. The photographic techniques employed by Weaver also encompass the range of possibilities – from close-ups to full-body renderings, from sharply defined specifics to somewhat longer exposures that are able to trace movement or quick gestures that the eye might not register sharply either.

The photobook is a pleasure to view and peruse; the design is attractive and varied, full of surprises. It is as if you are sitting in a theater and 36 characters that will appear in the play briefly introduce themselves to the audience, both as actors and also in the roles they are playing. The volume constitutes a refreshingly different visual record of thirty-six creative individuals captured by their innovative artistic photographer. The process of baring their souls is well described in the impressions written by Rodrigo Amarante. The project concludes with notes on the 36 artists who participated in this project. A most impressive and creative work!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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