The PhotoBook Journal

April 28, 2017

Douglas Stockdale – Bluewater Shore

Bluewater Shore limited edition artist book

Artist:  Douglas Stockdale (born Butler, PA; resides Rancho Santa Margarita, CA)

Publisher: Self-published, hand-inscribed, limited signed edition of 99; Copyright © 2017

Text: English

Stiff-cover book of 32 pages with 16 prong-bound images, unnumbered; in poly slip-cover; Fultone® digital lithography, printed by Dual Graphics, Brea, California

Notes: Photobooks that present their images in a loose format, i.e., not permanently bound and sequenced but changeable, are still the exception. One such successful work was David Alan Harvey’s 2012 project entitled (based on a true story), dealing with life in Rio, with real and imagined storylines. That innovative volume (which received a number of important awards) was designed with double pages whose sequence could be rearranged to tell a different story from the viewer’s perspective, using the same images, but with new juxtapositions. A more recent predecessor to Bluewater Shore is Douglas Stockdale’s Pine Lake, reviewed previously; it shares a similar image presentation format with Bluewater Shore, which is its sequel.

In the case of Douglas Stockdale’s Bluewater Shore, we have a hand-inscribed and hand-assembled limited edition artist book presenting a simulated drugstore-issued set of 16 prints that take the viewer on an imaginary trip taking place in the 1940s: a young woman traveling to “bluewater shore” with her women friends. Since that was a time in which women were able to feel some greater sense of self and independence, they were not accompanied by males as might have been the expected practice in previous times. We see them on their journey, we see them at the beach in various activities, and – lo and behold! – suddenly males also appear in the pictures. That’s where the story gets interesting – we don’t know who they are, or what relationships there are between them and the women, but we can project our ideas into the pictures. There are also some children in the photographs, and we don’t know whether they are relatives, or bystanders, or symbols of things to come. Since the roll of film fictitiously presented in this publication is made up of only 16 pictures and the people depicted are not available, we are only able to guess what might be taking place. Consider it a story puzzle that allows us to participate vicariously. Creative photographic storytelling at its finest!

Douglas Stockdale has taken vernacular images from his family’s archives and has repurposed them for this semi-fictitious narrative as a new single set of 16. They have been appropriately aged and once printed slightly enlarged, prong-bound into a folder that simulates how prints were once delivered with processed rolls for a small additional fee (Kodak/Ansco flip-books). There is even a seemingly unintentional double exposure. Since they are bound with a prong that can be removed from the folder, the images can be rearranged and spread out on the table as might have once been the case if they were to be evaluated or placed in an album. Thus we can experience parts of a family history and relate what we see to our own history and our shared cultural past as well. A most enjoyable photographic puzzle of memories and times gone by.

This site has also featured Douglas Stockdale’s hardbound volume, Ciociaria.

Gerhard Clausing

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April 20, 2017

Ellen Korth – CHARKOW

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Photographer: Ellen Korth, (b. The Hague, Netherlands – resides Deventer (Netherlands) & Nordhorn (Germany)

Publisher: Self-published, Deventer (Netherlands), copyright 2016

Interviews by: Ellen Korth, Sybren Kuiper

Text: Netherlands, English & German

Seven (7) Stiff-cover books in slip-case, sewn binding, four-color lithography, printed by Fine Books Weesp (Jos Morree) in Netherlands

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Photobook designer: Sybren Kuiper ( -SYB- )

Lithographer: Colour & Books (Sebastiaan Hanekroot)

Notes: Ellen Korth’s CHARKOW photobook is a very layered and complex set of photobooks, both physically and in her narrative, in part similar to and driven by her mysterious and complex past. Essentially this is an investigation of the question of what constitutes “home”?

It is a collection of short visual stories that delves into the subject for each person or couple as to what is “home” (where their heart is) for them? Perhaps for Korth in attempting to understand how others sense “home”, it might be a therapeutic process for her to deal her own feelings of belonging. It appears to me that this photobook also investigate a related and equally beguiling question; how deep must one’s roots be to feel “grounded”?

Each of the thin books create a fascinating visual metaphor; as each successive full-bleed photograph becomes smaller, the outer framing of the previous photographs can be read as a background border to create a complex, layered environmental context for the developing narrative. The unbalanced trim of each page spread adds to the visual layering effect. Once at the center of each book, it is difficult to read the photographic spread, the only image with a small white margin, without noticing the Kaleidoscopic background framing that reminds the reader about how complex a person’s story might be. A wonderful analogy to the layering of skins surrounding an onion and the effort to peel each layer to get closer to the central heart. The reader imagines that that they are slowly delving deeper into the layers of her subject’s life to get at the core of who they might be as it relates to being “home”. Both visual tantalizing and emotionally elusive.

For Korth, her personal story is cloaked in dark secrets and a sense of loss as to her family history. This may be in part as a result of her mother’s need for secrecy since fleeing from Charkow (Kharkov) during the absolute terror and chaos of the German invasion during WWII. Korth is dealing with the issues of an incomplete and hidden past and perhaps the unanswerable questions of how to resolve those feelings.

Highly Recommended! (my basis: I was one of the jurist for the International Photo Book Competition sponsored by Photo Independent and I was absolutely blown away by this brilliant photobook and immediately knew that I had to provide this to the readers of The PhotoBook. Oh, it also won the photobook competition as well)

Cheers!

Douglas Stockdale

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April 17, 2017

Shane Lavalette – One Sun, One Shadow

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Photographer: Shane Lavalette (b. Burlington, VT – resides Syracuse, NY)

Publisher: Lavalette, Syracuse (NY), copyright 2016

Essay: Tim Davis

Text: English

Clothbound hardcover book, embossed with tipped in image, sewn binding, four-color lithography, printed in Lithuania

Photobook designer: Lavalette

Notes: Shane Lavalette’s photobook is resulting from an earlier commission by the High Museum of Art (Atlanta, GA) for a exhibition series that they were working on in 2012 “Picturing the South”. Probably similar to Lavalette, I have visited the “South” on only a few occasions and realize that I have mind images of what constitutes this region of America. Perhaps other than one image of an alligator lurking in a pool of green mossy waters and another of fireflies, Lavalette avoided what I had imagined as topological stereotypes and created instead a poetic interpretation of what he experienced.

Lavalette states that he went looking for the music of the South, perhaps for some that might be a connotation for the Delta Blues, Smokey Mountain bluegrass or perhaps some kick-ass Georgia County Line country-rock. Regretfully for me I did not find this musical element in his photographs, but there are quiet, pensive moments that could lend to being lyrical, just not for in a musical sense.

Do I think that I know what it means to live in the South from this body of work? Perhaps not, as there are ambiguous landscapes and portraits that appear that these could have been found anywhere in the United States. Does it bust my stereotype image bank that I have about what is the South?  Most certainly and to further understand that the “South” is really not much different than many parts elsewhere in America. Perhaps this could be the source of the book’s title; One Sun, One Shadow; we are really the same regardless of where we are as we share this underlying sameness.

Cheers,

Douglas Stockdale

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October 4, 2013

Douglas Stockdale – Pine Lake

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Pine Lake copyright 2013 Douglas Stockdale self-published Limited Edition Artist Book

I am very thrilled to announce the publication of my hand-made artist book Pine Lake. Thus post is not intended to be a book review, as I need to let others provide more objective assessments. This is just blatant self promotion.

Pine Lake is sequenced as a semi-fictional story about an American multi-generational summer rite, a weekend fishing trip.

As to how this project came about, it started with my recently discovered family photographs of my grandfathers fishing, a passion of which was unknown and totally foreign to me. Thus the small, worn vernacular photographs I found became talismans for the lost memories and stories of my family.  This has led me to create this artist book to tell a story of what might have been. Pine Lake is another of my on-going series that investigates memory and its preservation.

The interior flip-book is formatted in a style reminiscent of a promotional processing book common in the 1960′s produced by Kodak and Ansco, which could be purchase with a film processing order. The book is accompanied by a small collection of preserved ephemera that represent the memorabilia that might be saved after a favorite vacation.

The stiff cover book contains 17 black & white photographs. The outer cover is fabricated from a sheet of 120 gm Canson Mi-Teintes paper, hand trimmed to size and inkjet printed which is then hand inscribed.  This cover is bone creased, hand hole punched and an aluminum prong binding is attached to manually bind the interior pages. The book resides inside a hand inscribed poly slip-cover (a zip-lock bag) accompanied with three pieces of ephemera; a fishing stamp, a fishing notice & a section of fishing line with small weight attached mid-way.

The book and ephemera are housed in a hand-made wood frame with a printed cover constructed from 110# Daler-Rowney Canford paper, cut to size, ink-jet printed, hand bone crease and glued to the frame to create a gate fold flap, and has an elastic band closure.

Exterior size is 8 1/2″ x 10″ x 7/16″ (210 mm x  250mm   x 100mm)

The photographic images are anonymous and from my family archive and have been re-photographed and modified to provide a consistent appearance to illustrate this short visual story. Pine Lake is produced in a Limited Edition of 25, with a price of $150.00 USD per book plus shipping (and taxes where applicable).

I hope you enjoy it.

Cheers!

Note: price increase to $250 on 2/01/2014 as edition is almost sold out.

Note: For the three remaining editions, the price is now $350.00 each.

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October 13, 2012

Cristina de Middel – The Afronauts

Copyright 2012 Cristina de Middel (Puch), self-published

Christina de Middel created a historical novella with her artists book The Afronauts about what might could have been. In 1964 Edward Makuka Nkoloso created the Zambian Space Program with the goal to fly twelve astronauts, including one girl, and ten cats to Mars. He was convinced that he could beat the United States to Mars and place Zambia on the forefront of the technology frontier. Cristina de Middel has re-told the story of this humorous series of events with her own pluck and style.

It is interesting that de Middel was not tempted to seize upon the more humorous documented events surrounding this misadventure, the 17 year old girl who during her training became pregnant, the desire to include the ten cats in this program, the training simulations involving the trainees swinging on a rope during which Nkoloso would cut the rope to provide a sense of weightlessness, as well as having the trainees tumbling inside a large drum as they rolled down a hill.

The book is an enjoyable mash up of her photographs, simulated documents, found photographs and her artwork. The weaving of these elements creates a complex reading in which it is necessary to open gatefolds that result in concealing photographic plates and perhaps in the process creates a confusing mess. Perhaps similar to attempting to understand Nkoloso’s Space Program. I liken the experience of reading this book to Christian Patterson’s Redheaded Peckerwood.

De Middle incorporates a number of translucent pages that read similar to vellum used for technical drawings and specifications, providing a sense of authentication that this might be real in the face of the absurdity. She also incorporates poignant mythology, such as a photograph of a bird’s wing lying on the ground, a referent to the hubris of Icarus.

The book has a reinforced stiff cover with a simple stitch sewn and a visible book block. The book is bound with various single gate-fold inserts and one double-page gatefold. The printing on matte papers reduces the contrast of the color interior images but does not affect the re-telling of this narrative. The essay is by Kojo Nuge.

Note: I selected this book for the 2012 Fotografia di Roma photobook exhibition’s theme of “Work” and subsequently short listed by Aperture for First Photobook award.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

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