Los Olvidados, season 2

Many great books have already been listed this year. This list is not a “best of” but just a few recommendations for books I consider very interesting and that deserve some attention.

Only the sky remains untouched, by Claire Felicie. With this book, Claire keep on investigating the psychical damages of war on soldiers, as the subtitle of the book says « The invisible wounds of war. With, as usual, a superb design by Sybren Kuiper which, metaphorically, shows the broken bodies of former soldiers when they’re back from the theater of war. I could say more, but you’d better take a look by your own.

Habiter Berlin 1900 – 1920. At the beginning of XXth Century, the General health insurance fund in Berlin and in the neighborhood, commissionned Heinrich Lichte studio to realise photographs to show the conditions of insalubrity of some appartments in Berlin. The booklets were published once a year or every two years as “Unsere Wohnungs-Enquête”, a survey of housing in Berlin. 175 photographs are compiled here, under the direction of Philippe Bonin, architect and anthropologist, and Margaret Manale, historian, published by Creaphis éditions. Maybe my favorite book this year !

Cista zona, by Sergej Vutuc. Eastern Europe seen through the eyes of Sergej, with an invisible drama outcropping from his beautiful aesthetic photographs. A fantastic discovery this year !

Land, by Laura Van Severen. When quarries and larger stone exploitations become some incredible sophisticated abstract oraganisations. I really love those beautiful photos and I had a great pleasure of a little chat with Laura at Polycopies. Another great discovery this year.

Los amorosas las bravas, by Bénédicte Desrus and Celia Gómez Ramos. A fantastic series on Las mujeres de la Casa Xochiquetzal, a place in Mexico for retired prositutes. The profits from the book selling will help to fund the place. Unfortunately, this book is hard to find, because it did not really reached Europe before it was sold out.

Tada, by Algis Griskevidicius. This book compiles photographs taken between 1985 and 1995 (last decade of comunism era in Lithuania) as material for paintings. It becomes a great testimonial of a decaying country with, out of time Soviet architecture and landscapes.

Forthright, stronger than a weapon, by Sascha Klaus. This could also be the heaviest book of the year. A strong compilation of rap singers from what we call the Third World. This is a fantastic discovery of all those people who fight day after day against totalitarian regime. This remind us that the world is going wrong and that there are lots of things to do and to fight for ! A new form of protest book.

I wish to see where the winds meet, by Christian Bragg. The book as an object. You can turn the pages of this book with a specific sequencing, and by turning the pages, you understand that there are fold outs which could be unfold. You open the eyelets and then discover posters and leporellos which tell a new story. Create your own poetry by unfolding your book !

Glasgow, by Raymond Depardon. Let’s give a break with Depardon bashing. I was a fan of his early work, like San Clemente and Correspondance New Yorkaise. So it was with great pleasure that I discover this early unknown work he did in Glasgow in 1980 for the Sunday Times Magazine. Thanks to Editions du Seuil for this book.

The last son, by Jim Goldberg. With this new book, Jim Goldberg turns his narative process to examine his own growth through his relation to his father, and how his origins have influenced his work. Published by Super Labo as the second part of a personal story in three books.

And I just want to end with two promising photographers and books they did for they’re graduation. They both self published their graduation work in a limited edition of more or less 30 copies. You should keep an eye on both of them.

David’s House, by Alex Ingram. You know this part of Wales, at the end of the world which is called St David, that’s the place where Alex is from and he went back to the place to document it. This is just the sensitive way I like in a photo work.

Belfast, by Aäron Maes. A Belgian photographer focused on the troubles in Northern Ireland as subject of his Master degree. I have a particularly tenderness for Ireland and I like how Aäron immersed himself to try to understand what « Troubles » mean.

You can find the compilation of the 2016 lists here : http://photolia.tumblr.com/post/153778783632/photobooks-2016


Out of the blue, by Virginie Rebetez, the proof by absence

Viriginie Rebetez is a Swiss photographer whose concerns revolve around the invisible, the trace, the absence, the death, but above all the space that this absence creates. A possible, immaterial world which she seeks to qualify with her own representation.

In 2014, Virginie was in Residence in New York. Looking for a topic to work on, she searched for unresolved missing people cases and was aware of the story of Suzanne Lyall, a nineteen year old girl who disappeared in Albany (New-York), 16 years before in March 1998. Virginie will spend two years working on the « case », not to solve it, but to reinterpret it !

For her work, Virginie Rebetez got access to the complete family archive, photographs, objects, correpondance (mails, letters…) between the family, the police officers and the psychics who offered their help to solve the case. The book opens with a series of aerial views from the first days research with an helicopter. Then, we discover the backside of a photo, not knowing what the photo shows, dated June 1994. Suzanne tells about her : « Well, this is me ! … Love always ». Probably more than with a physical view of her, it seems that we start to know Suzanne. The connection is created and we are, now, ready to follow Virginie in her quest ; the quest of an immaterial presence, the resilient memory which try to fullfil a loss !

All along the book, we will never see Suzanne’s face. We will only confront her traces : cut off photos, notes, Suzanne’s belongings or known places. The book is made of several series. Some photographs have been shot on location around Albany. We discover several places all located upstate NY where she could have gone before or after her disapearance. Knowing that, those locations appear unsettling, we explore them, looking for a trace, a sign… We discover Suzanne’s bedroom, which remained untouched since her missing. And portraits of Suzanne’s parents, Mary and Doug Lyall, with an ineffaceable sadness in their eyes (or maybe this is just our own projection). Compiling the documentation, Virginie Rebetez also build a wall of documents, in the spirit of a police investigation to rephotograph the rearranged pieces, giving us clues and fragments of Suzanne’s previous life, even if it remains an unfinished portrait.

The missing of a child can be considered with two aspects, the first one is factual, and this is the one that outcrop through the photogaphic part of the book. Photographs tell facts in a raw manner, we can add our own interpretation and its sense is our own adding value. The second aspect is the moral distress associated to the loss of a child. This is something really hard to explain and to transmit to someone who have not experienced the loss. This is what we are confronted in the second part of the book, with the pink pages. Here are shown some various letters, emails, drawings resulted from exchange with police officers or psychics who offered their help to the family. And that is the tragedy which is depicted, when reading assertions about Jupiter opposite Neptune, or Uranus square Saturn, considering this could be of any help ! Or those maps with some incredible precise GPS localization. Every new attempt to locate Suzanne was a new form of hope for Mary and Doug !

The combination, in a book form, of those two apsects reinterprets the space created by the absence of Suzanne. Definitely not in the same way than experienced by the parents, but as our own experience of the missing, which is emphasized by the addition of a poster which comes with one of three different images. These images were made by a professional forensic artist who created “age-progressed composites” depicting the possible appearance of Suzanne at the age of 38. This photograph will be the only complete image of Suzanne’s face seen in the book, which is highly perturbing, because of the unreality of the portrait : this is not Suzanne and it probably never will be.

Despite the accumulation of documents and/or evidences, the puzzle remains unsolved and the only certainty we have at the end the book is the reality of absence. But in a way, what is absence ? The book brings less answers than it opens new questions. The space that Virginie Rebetez was trying to explore is maybe, what we call souvenirs, an immaterial part of our own personality, something located in the unconscious, and very personal.

Published by Meta Books in 2016. Hardcover, 144 pages, 57 color photographs, with a booklet and a poster. Essays by Frédérique Destribats, Elisa Rusca, and Simon Karlstetter. 700 copies.
More info : http://virginierebetez.com/projects/out-of-the-blue/
Want to buy the book : https://tictail.com/s/metabooks/virginie-rebetez-out-of-the-blue