The PhotoBook

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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March 26, 2017

Klaus Pichler and Clemens Marschall – Golden Days Before They End

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Photographer:  Klaus Pichler (Austrian, lives and works in Vienna)

Publisher:  Edition Patrick Frey, Zurich, Switzerland, © 2016

Essay and quotes:  Compiled and edited by Clemens Marschall

Text:  German or English (translated by Charlotte Maconochie and Clemens Marschall

Hardcover book, sewn binding; 250 unnumbered pages; 120 color photographs; German and English editions; including 100/96 pages of text, with quotes by owners and patrons, list of venues, and glossary; printed and bound in Austria; 29×23 cm

Photobook Designer:  Roland Hörmann

 

Notes:

This work contains a pictorial portion of 120 color photographs by Klaus Pichler and four interspersed text portions totaling 96 pages (English edition) and 100 pages (German edition), bound in four segments within the picture sections. These text portions consist of a huge number of quotes (collected and edited by Clemens Marschall) that give fascinating insights into the lives of both the owners and the patrons of small Viennese bars that are the subject of the photographs, as well as a list of these 70 or so venues that the authors visited and depicted, a glossary of some of the choice phrases and terms from the quotes (how about “Baucherl” and “Strizzi” for starters!), and the customary publishing information. The German text portion is slightly larger because it includes an expanded glossary of choice local dialect and colloquial expressions. Wherever the images contain relevant language material, a translation is thoughtfully provided below the picture. An impressive collection of visual and textual data!

So here we have Vienna (not Hamburg as in the case of Anders Petersen’s Café Lehmitz), a documentation of not just one but many similar small bars, often on the brink of financial disaster and destined for a subsequent demise, and patrons that derive a “good time” both from the liquid refreshments consumed as well as from a shared coexistence marked by comfort and camaraderie. As for the photographic documentation, Pichler ably demonstrates the efficacy of color for this stark documentary work, where formerly monochrome images were the standard. Color is just fine for the impact that is required for this in-your-face dramatic presentation of people tableaus and “barscapes.” The horizontal format predominates. In 2013, Doug Stockdale reviewed a previous work by Klaus Pichler that also demonstrated his eye for the unusual.

A world that is not always so observable is shown here. These small bars are mostly very funky and idiosyncratic. Their customers are depicted in various stages of inebriation and sometimes acting out or clowning for the camera – they are being themselves and sharing their special world with us. In control of themselves or not, they do not seem to feel shame to show us their definition of togetherness and belonging. As outsiders looking in on them, we marvel at their narrowly defined bit of paradise. One of the intriguing tasks for the viewer is to imagine who said what, since the quotes articulated by owners and patrons, though attributed, are not assigned to any specific individuals depicted in the picture section, but they do allow us to study a variety of insider perspectives to complement the visual documentation.

I consider this comprehensive volume a most enjoyable new classic!

Gerhard Clausing

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April 4, 2014

Nico Bick – P.I.

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Nick Bick copyright 2011, self-published

Nico Bick’s P.I. is a study of what is purported to be the one of the most well-known prisons in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the Over-Amstel Penitentiary Institution locally known as Bijlmerbajes (Bijlmer Jail). Using a documentary style, Bick photographed the cells of prisoners, isolation cells, communal rooms and holding cells. Bick also include an area that is most relevant to the prison administration; the control rooms and an area equally important to the prisoners; the doors leading out of the facilities.

Interestingly, the book is unbound and the interior sheets are folded and tucked together. I think that there might have been initially some order to how these pages were arranged, but over the last couple of years, while I continued looking at these sheets I have managed to create a jumble in the presentation. I suspect that that was part of Bick’s plan to allow the reader to rearrange and create their own order out of the inherent madness associated with a tightly regimented prison system.

Perhaps with the exception of the prisoner’s rooms and control rooms, the areas photographed within this institution are ambiguous. The facility appears almost too clean and sterile with the exception of one type of room that seems to invite graffiti. The locations are photographed without the presence of the prisoners or their guards, but we sense that due to the nature of this place, someone maybe just beyond the scope of Bick’s lens. This is a man-built structure with a very specific purpose in mind.

In stark comparison to the photographs of the US jails and prisons interiors, in which the prisoners are living in a mass communal, the individual rooms appear to be only a slight departure from someone’s home residence. Each room appears to be designed for an inhabited by a single individual; each provided a window, blue curtains, a corner table with a small television and coffee maker and an adjoining chair. On the shelves above the single bed is a place to hold books, snacks, or a photograph. Some of these rooms look Spartan as though just occupied, other have the accumulated debris that comes with too much time. Bick’s photographs appear objective and not judgmental of the current situation and circumstances.

As a book object, it has tri-fold stiff cover, with the interior panels containing thumbnail photographs and captions that provide an index to the interior sheets. The four color interior sheets are folded and loose (unbound). An introduction is provided on another loose sheet by Frits Gierstberg while the book was designed by Joost Grootens.

Footnote: This is one of the photobooks that I received in early 2012 and which never seemed to make through my photobook review cycle. Nevertheless the book’s intriguing design in conjunction with the clearly seen yet stark photographs made a strong impression and this book keeping lingering in my memory as a book that needed to be discussed.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

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June 1, 2013

Douglas Stockdale – In Passing

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Copyright Douglas Stockdale 2008, self published.

This aftermath project explores my on-going series; memory and its preservation.

Hardcover book with dust jacket, one photograph plate per page spread with captions on the facing page. This book is out of print and now sold out.

Best regards

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May 12, 2012

Douglas Stockdale – Ciociaria Limited Edition Book + Photograph Set

Copyright Douglas Stockdale 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now available at:

Ampersand, Portland Oregon (Sold out)

photo-eye: Santa Fe, NM

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

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

Check back as I expect this bookseller list to grow.

Best regards, Doug

Morolo Edition

 Now back to your normal programing…

September 24, 2011

Douglas Stockdale – Ciociaria

Filed under: Book Publications, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 8:57 pm

Photographs copyright 2011 Douglas Stockdale & published by Edizioni Punctum (Punctum Press)

Okay, this is not an official book review per se as I really do need to defer to other reviewers to provide commentaries about my book. That said I have been very fortunate to have a few others post about Ciociaria, including  Aline Smithson (Lenscratch), Andrew Phelps (Buffet) and Harvey Benge (Photograhy+art+ideas), as well as various shout-outs by Pierre Bessard, Elizabeth Avedon and a host of others.

Update: Very nice reviews by Karen Jenkins in photo-eye Magazine and Tomás de Teresa on Libros de Fotografia (Spanish), who also posted a video review of Ciociaria set to Spanish guitar on YouTube.

Publisher’s synopsis;

Douglas Stockdale’s Ciociaria builds an “organized” flanerie that goes beyond the topography/street photography dichotomy; he erases the direct human aspect and the need of a nearly scientific witness at the same time, enhancing the concept of how every single human being can become acquainted with a place in varied unpredictable ways and times, as well as readapting the landscape to one’s visions and needs.

Stockdale personalizes Ciociaria, a loosely defined rocky and hilly region with memories of ancient Latin yet without a known history, putting aside all stereotypes and re-launching a sort of “personal anonymity”, very typical to areas that developed due to the middle class explosion. Houses, banners, woods, monuments, cars and the outskirts of little towns, nothing is magnificent and luckily nothing is picturesque. The truly great difference lies here: Stockdale does not overdramatically criticize the Italian landscape per se, perceived as an embarrassing overlap of architectural abuse and ignorance, but then again his flanerie is nothing more than an actualization of the grand tour.

His photographs hint of a street photographer’s reportage yet lacks an obvious narrative, providing many hints of a complex and multi-layered culture, creating an indirect portrait of Ciociaria, while leaving most questions tantalizingly unanswered.  The photographs capture a paradox of strangeness mixed with familiarity, mystery mixed with beauty, within a context of color, space, and texture.

This book is an investigation into complexities of ambiguity intertwined with feelings of belonging while yet still not fitting in. Stockdale crosses Ciociaria and looks for answers, adhering to that landscape and photographing it in such a way as to illustrate what it personally conveys to him. It is about being a stranger in a vaguely familiar land.

As a photobook object it is a hardcover book with dust jacket and includes 50 color photographs with four-color lithographic printing, 96 pages without captions or page numbering. There is an essay by Marco Delogu and an afterword by me with both texts provided in Italian and English.

Best regards, Douglas

May 15, 2009

Bernd & Hilla Becher at Museo Morandi

Filed under: Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 8:29 pm

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Photographs copyright Bernd & Hilla Becher courtesy of Schirmer/Mosel and Prestel USA

Bernd and Hilla Becher are the German photographic team who become well known over the last 30+ years for the development of their industrial Typologies (and how many times have I unknowing read this as Topologies). This book is a catalog, published by Schirmer/Mosel in 2009, for the Becher’s retrospective exhibition at Museo Morandi in Bologna, Italy.

The images printed in the book are reminiscent of the presentation grid style developed by the Becher’s in the 1960’s in which the photographs are grouped by type or function. Industrial facilities are grouped together to illustrate both their similarities of function but the subtle differences in form. Thus the book’s emphasis is more on the grouping of types of subjects (a.ka. Typology) than the ability to dig into the detail of specific images.

The publishing of a photographic grid I found to be a tease when there is a group of 15 photographs on the relatively small page which does not allow much of the individual photograph to be evaluated. From the interview Hilla Becher provided in the text (Bernd passed away in 2007) the pair do not appear to as much interested in the individual photograph but how the group of like structures play off against each other.

The book will provide a sense of Becher’s Typologies with groups from their collection of Gas-tanks, Cooling Towers, Water Towers, Winding Towers, Lime Kilns, and Blast Furnaces. From these photographic groupings you can also discern how different cultures adopt similar functional designs and yet how these same industrial functions differ greatly from other geographic regions.

The book may also help with establishing the visual linkage of the early work by the German photographers August Sander and Albert Renger-Patzsch who are known for either photographing by categorizing types or photographing industrial buildings at a middle distance to emphasize their form.

The catalog provides a high level overview of the Becher’s formal photographic process and it may create an interest to seek one out one of their earlier books which provide more extensive details on one of their many subject types. Not recommended if you are looking for a collection of their work to understand in more detail one of their category types.

The perfect bound stiffcover book is 8″ x 9″ with 48 pages and 14 duotone plates that encompasses 153 photographic images made by the couple. The accompanying interview with Hilla Becher by Gianfranco Maraniello is in both English and Italian with beautiful printing and binding from Verona, Italy.

Best regards, Douglas Stockdale

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April 28, 2009

Donald Weber – Bastard Eden, Our Chernobyl

Filed under: Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:35 pm

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Photographs copyright of Donald Weber courtesy of Photolucida

Donald Weber’s Bastard Eden, Our Chernobyl is his Photolucida 2006 Critical Mass book and a scary look at what could be our potential post-Nuclear civilization. It is also about a marginalized society and the reclamation of the land.

Weber’s photographic documentary project investigates the no-man’s region surrounding Chernobyl (Ukraine) where 20 years ago in 1986 a nuclear reactor incident which went really bad. The result was a 40-kilometer Exclusion Zone where people are not permitted to enter. But they do enter and some have now chosen this area to become their home, for them and their families. Thus Weber’s question:

What was daily life actually like, in a post-nuclear world?

A post-nuclear world could be the result of the nuclear arms war going to the ultimate gamesmanship where all of the buttons were pushed for the wrong reasons, or as in this case a nuclear reactors malfunctioning. In the first instance as we know from the end of World War II a nuclear war will probably clear the landscape pretty much clean with very little remaining. In the latter most everything remains intact with only the radioactive traces creating the issues. The latter is also the landscape of Chernobyl that is silent but yet potentially deadly.

And so what results?

Nature abhors a vacuum and since the trees, plants and most of the landscape remains intact, the wildlife are the first to re-claim the land. The rabbits, boars and deer are wild game for those people who exist on the fringe of this region, and over time these hunters have slowly ventured further and further into this no-man’s land. Eventually people began to become squatters taking residence in the empty and abandoned houses and buildings to claim them as their own.

But who would knowingly choose such a dangerous location to establish a home and raise a family? Probably much like the squatters who exist through out the world are those who survive on the marginal edges of our society. And so this society evolves functioning somewhat similar, but also in many ways very differently that those outside this small region. In most of Weber’s photographs you would not realize that these photographs are made in such a potentially dangerous place.  Children are at school or playing at home and acting out as they do everywhere.

There are also hints of a darker side perhaps not directly correlated with the area, but about those who would chose this place over a much safer location. Weber captures the isolation and aspects of a dysfunctional society who are still striving to survive. He documents individuals who are captured and held here because of the choices of others such as the children of parents who have decided to bring their families here. We do not know what their other living options are and the body language within many of his photographs does create a message about their isolation and despair. Yet family bonds and values are still strong even in the face of such a bleak situation and where there are plenty of potatoes and vodka and wild game to hunt.

Is it just me, or is there chance that those eyes of the lone man leaning on the snow covered shed (below) reminds you of Jack Nicholson’s character in the Shining? There is something sinister and malevolent in those hooded eyes as they connect with me. Is he anomaly in this region or does he represent what we all might become under these same circumstances?

I believe that there is yet another theme that runs through Weber’s book and best illustrated by one of the last photographs in his book of the urban landscape photograph, below. The desolate urban landscape which is dark, cold and foreboding with the sun peaking out from the tall structure sand the slender shaft of sunlight spreading over the snow covered foreground. To me this image speaks of Hope.  And Hope held by the people in Chernobyl for a safe and prosperous life and thus Hope for mankind in the face of such an ominous potential.

These are searing documentary photographs.

The 8 1/2″ x 10″  softbound book is 64 pages with 62 photographs and was printed in Hong Kong. The book is accompanied with a text by Larry Frolick (see below).

Best regards, Douglas Stockdale

Update from Larry Frolick, off-line I received the following comment:

Hi Douglas!  I read your review of Bastard Eden with interest. As Don Weber’s collaborator from the writing side, I have travelled with him through a number of desolated landscapes including the uncountry of Kurdistan that covers the remotest parts of Syria, Turkey and Iraq. The enclosed comix, Kebabistan, was drawn by Steve Wilson, and written by me about our adventures at the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003. Don waded into the thick of knife fights in the grubby streets, massed tanks, mad farmers and unhappy GI’s, right into the shit of war and the craziness it brings to everyone within range of the guns.

Who is not in range of the long guns of today? That’s the question we try to answer in Bastard Eden. People try to live normalno, as they say here — but then this thing from nowhere keeps coming and knocking things into another dimension.

That’s what we discovered about these people living in the abandoned Chernobyl region in Ukraine. They are living in a past-less place; whatever it was, this thing has come and gone, taking what it wanted and leaving people to their post-atomic existence. For us, as two investigators of the silent crimes of history, this story is not about the failure of technology — or about the limits of human imagination.

It’s about the randomness of a nonhuman Power.

Is this Power evil, as our cartoon story suggests? Is it stronger than us? We don’t know. We watch the Chernobyl hunters snare wild rabbits for supper and their wives pick radioactive raspberries, and we think:

Life goes on, despite everything that can be thrown at it.

Larry Frolick, Niagara on The Lake, ON

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March 24, 2009

Ann Mitchell – Austin Val Verde

Filed under: Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 2:57 am

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Photographer Ann Mitchell copyright 2007

I have known many of Ann Mitchell’s photographs from her 2007 Balcony Press book Austin Val Verde, Impressions of a Montecito Masterpiece, as we have shared the January-February 2008 issue of LensWork magazine together. From the start Mitchell’s photographs struck me with their introspective and quiet viewpoint about a specific place.

The photographic investigation of this Southern California estate was completed over a two year period. The book is a collaboration of her commissioned photographs with the personal recollections of Gail Jansen who is the founding Executive Director of the Austin Val Verde Foundation.  Mitchell writes about the transition of her own creative interpretation of this large estate during the progression of this project.  Her earlier work was softer with a narrower and selective viewpoint and in later photographs the “extreme detail is found in the later images“.

There is a certain quality to her earlier images that recall the elegant garden photographs of Eugene Atget.  I sense a more atmospheric essence to her earlier studies and I find them to be really wonderful. To Mitchell’s immense credit the later photographs which have the entire subject in focus are equally elegant and beautiful.

To undertake a portrait of a place that was built and subsequently developed by a series of owners and now in a transition to a public space is a task I find daunting. Much like trying to define a person and to go beyond the surface facade to try to dig deep in search of the spirit and soul.

Sometimes for her photographs it is too easy to be pulled into by the textures, lines, shapes and mass to miss the underlying structure that ties it all together. Mitchell is able to visually link the structural design that establishes the story about the individual responsible for the building and surrounding grounds. I have more of a sense of who they were even if they are no longer with us to personally tell me their own stories. In a sense Mitchell is attempting to capture latent traces of the prior owner’s spirit. Mitchell has gone well beyond just a straight documentary of the architectural facts or a scrap book of mementos.

There is a certain handling of  both light and space that is consistent though-out this body of work as Mitchell has patiently waited for the right moment for each composition. The entire body of work was created with a 4×5” camera with a Positive/Negative film that leaves a certain tattle-tale mark along the entire margin of the image. At first, I found this technical remnant a disturbing photographic attribute and later realized that this helped with establishing that this series is a body of work and should not be taken literally. The photographs are not meant to be the thing itself, but a creative record of the essence depicted.

The warm toned photographs are suggestive of a time before as Mitchell points out some of the rooms with their red walls literally scream out at you. So choosing to use a toned black and white photographic image Mitchell was able to move past the emotional colors to a suggestive inference of those who called this a home.

All in all I just enjoy the balance of shapes and forms within the photographs as the light leads me around and inside the photographs. Such as the first photograph below of the steps which leads me away; to where, I am not sure, but perhaps to a place that I will find peaceful and calm.

Another creative decision that I enjoy is the ongoing dialog that accomplices each photograph by Jensen as she shares personal antidotes about the Austins, while Mitchell shares what she is attempting to create with each photograph. The pairing of the two dialog creates another dimension to this body of work. I think that it goes beyond an informative caption as the both writings (example on the bottom two images below) are a sensitive sharing of their experiences.

Mitchell has indirectly written a wonderful book about what it takes to create a photographic series and how an artist has to individually contemplate each composition and understand what it is that they are attempting to capture. She analyze’s what is before the lens and then what it is that the she is trying capture and the emotional effect that will result. In my opinion this alone is probably worth the price of the book.

Best regards, Douglas Stockdale

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February 20, 2009

Lee Friedlander – New Mexico

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Photographer Lee Friedlander copyright 2008 published by Radius Books

 Lee Friedlander: New Mexico was published concurrently by Radius Books with the Friedlander exhibition at the Andrew Smith Gallery Santa Fe, NM in the Fall of 2008. Thus in one sense this book can be viewed as one heck of a great catalog.

Usually I defer to the end of the review to discuss a book’s workmanship in regard to the paper and book binding.  For this book I will make an exception in as I almost screwed up my copy from the get-go. I was mildly surprised when I opened the book for the first time to find the front end papers missing and the binding not glued or sewn to the spine. The back end papers also appeared to be missing with the page page glued to the basic cover plate. Yikes!

My initial thought was that this was a Chinese book-binding screw-up. Then as I had my bottle of book binding glue in mid-air I had second thoughts as I studied the re-seal-able poly pouch that the book came in. hmmmmm; Radius Books is pretty innovative so perhaps I should check-in first and not make assumptions (I need to get better at this).

So after a quick query to Darius Himes, co-founder of Radius Books, I received the following reply:

No, you’re not going insane. The book is a very intentional object:  no end-pages, the book block “sits” against the raw book boards, naked and exposed on the rough terrain of those boards, if you will.  The back of the book block is secured to the back board as a structural device.  This very raw object is clothed in a very elegant dust-jacket with a debossed and duo-tone printed, inlaid image.  Again, the effect is a raw object clothed with elegance (kind of like New Mexico and Santa Fe itself).  So, no, the book is not supposed to have front end-pages and the spine is not meant to be glued to anything…. you’re seeing right to the skeleton of any book.

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Update: I have subsequently found out that this is type of book binding is known as Tape Binding and I have added this term to my side bar of book definitions.

So now getting into the book itself. As to the relevancy of another Friedlander book this has already been discussed by Jeffery Ladd on SB4 and the counter viewpoint by Darius Himes on his blog, DariusHimes, so I do not need to cover this again. I think that Darius’s quote by Friedlander is probably most telling;

“This is not an important body of work, so I don’t want a big pretentious monograph.”

Thus Darius sums up the books intent as ” in the sense that this work is not ground-breaking. He’s (Friedlander) not pushing the envelope, he’s not looking to re-forge a photographic identity, he’s not looking to make his name with these photographs, nor, in the end, with this book” …”to think of each of Friedlander’s books as though they are each a poem in an anthology”.

As to this body of work by Friedlander I think it is agreed that he does not break any new ground and it is a continuation of his “voice” as expressed in his particular photographic style. Much like hearing a new song on the radio and instantly recognizing the voices and melodies of one of your your favorite groups. You enjoy the current song with its new lyrics and you also are carried along with memories of their earlier recordings.

This body of work is topographical about a place and in true Friedlanderism you may not not be able to state that you know a lot more about New Mexico per se for reading the book.  The photographs do reinforce the Friedlander style both in regard to the photographic content as well as how the images are displayed on the pages.

The book has essentially two types of Friedlander photographs; in the car/urban landscape and the multifaceted and slightly destabilizing natural urban/rural landscape photographs. All of course with the trademark super-wide square format of his Hasselblad and the  blazing bright front lighting with something up close and out of focus that breaks up the resulting image. Another trademark is his shadow in the lower edges to provide that missing human element.

His work has become more mature and the initial jolts that resulted from his earlier work are no longer occurring and now with repetition his process allows you to perhaps dig a little deeper. He continues to come back to those same viewpoints and compositions which are no longer thought of as chance mistakes but as deliberate and accepted acts.

I am reminded of the quote from Frederick Sommer, another photographer of the Southwest, who stated; “It is the time you spend setting up and considering the scene that is the art of photographing; it’s really of very small consequence whether you press the button or not. “

Yet for most of us we may not push the button when we saw these same sights while Friedlander does consistently press the button for these very similar compositions.  Much like an urban landscape photographer in Southern California who is instantly drawn to a photographic compositions if palm trees are present. For Friedlander the things that draw him out is the act of photographing out the car window, compositions that contain things that can divide the image, a mess of bushes or tree limbs that can obscure the “facts”. These are now “Friedlander moments” as we pass through a parking lot or down a sidewalk to glance over a fence or come across a bizarre hedge or unable to find a clear view of landscape subject.

These are all things that we see as we move about in our daily lives but do not give enough significance to to commit to memory and experience. Until we have seen Friedlander’s photographs and the have the quick synapse of recognition. Unlike the late Aaron Siskin who had stated that for him “a photograph should be an altogether new object, complete and self-contained, whose basic condition is order” Friedlander appears to be searching for the corollary disorder and a high degree of chaos.

For me the Friedlander photographs are metaphoric for the disorder and chaos that occurs in our daily lives and the things we try to shut out in favor of the better memories and experiences. Things are not always pretty but can get messy, especially if we take note of how things do grow and flourish in nature. I might step to the right or left to get an unobstructed viewpoint while I am momentarily standing in front of the pole or sign post. And his photograph did leave me uneasy and uncomfortable.

So I have tried to create and make a comfortable order in the middle of chaos photographs while Friedlander chooses to remind me again and again that we may be only momentarily fooling ourselves.

The order and sequencing of the photographs within the book create a nice  visual flow with related photographs on facing pages that provide that additional viewpoint of a Friedlander moment. The hardcover book with dust jacket is 11 1/4″ x 12″ and allows plenty of space to display his photographs. There is a narrow white margin of approximately 1/2″ around each square photograph, with no bleeds or two page spreads of the same image, thus nothing is lost in the gutters. There are 45 duotone photographs within the 80 pages with a Forward by Andrew Smith and an essay by Emily Ballew Neff. A very pleasing design by the team of  Skolkin+Chickey, two of the Radius Books principals.

A limited edition of 200 books with slip covers is also available.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

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