A raw energy, or the chaos arranged, by Sergej Vutuc

Energy is really the word that comes to mind to talk about the work of Sergej Vutuc. Both in the production of zines and in the photographic work itself, there is the generosity, passion and even profusion. The world is moving, the world is changing, public spaces are constantly in evolution and it is here the question of appropriation of these territories. From the deep roots of subcultures from the margins of society such as punk and skateboarding, Sergej explores territories and makes them his. It makes us rediscover the city and invites us to look with new eyes that requires abandoning preconceptions. The city comes alive, and it is difficult to recognize.

Sergej chose not to work on conventional representations. The photographs are handled, crushed, interpreted. He interposes plastics filters, often simple bags for creating the texture in his images. He deconstructs reality, like memories out of a dream. The images are blurred as if to get away from reality. This aesthetic is becoming his trademark, his way of looking at the world, with which he combines some other signs, texts strummed we hardly read, like a background noise that would tell us something important but remains difficult to hear. Sergej’s own interpretation emphasizes and valorizes our imagination. The pictures are interactive, we must fill up the story with our own one.

The various works of Sergej are pretexts to explore the great themes of photography. In « Western Ave », he works on the longest urban avenue in Chicago, in the footsteps of iconic American photography. A tribute to many great photographers. He revisits Robert Frank in a journey that condenses on a road, which also remind « Route One » by Robert Kramer. We also have in mind the legendary « Route 66 » which, precisely starts from Chicago, through the United States, up to Santa Monica. Steinbeck’s images in the head, with migrants, and we think to Ed Ruscha passing the “Drive Today” that could have been one of his « 26 gasoline stations ». The American road is a symbol, it unites and separates. Bridge stretched between two places, it is also, in some cases, a rupture or a frontier!

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« Good to be to walk away » is an experimental work, the themes (skateboard, public spaces, appropriation…) and processes (blur, images burned, unframed negative, scratches…) in this zine are Sergej’s favorites. The need to put his energy in pictures, a way to let the rage come out loud. It is less constructed than the following zines, but it lays the foundation for future work. Everything is said, but it remains messy. The following books will be built patiently but preserving intact all the energy of beginnings, by channeling it to give it full force.

In « Painful reminder », the title evokes the subject. One looks for a trace, the book is dark, photos more deconstructed, as a person who must rebuild. It is a kind of chaos interspersed with quieter scenes, wandering aimlessly with memories that fade. This is somehow the book of memories with one of my favorite image in which we see two human beings wandering in an industrial environment with fences, which seem burned by flames which swallow the image itself.

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The last book I want to talk about here is « Abfolge », which means sequence, published in 2016. Continuing his experiments, Sergej, with this book, combines, for the best, photographic processes and printing technique risography. The fleshy images take here all their depth. You get lost with relish in the deep blacks. The book consists of A3 pictures folded in half to form an unbound 28 pages booklet. We must unfold the book to read the entire image, but above all, each half picture recombines, according to the facing page with another half. The pictures recompose themselves and it is impressive to see how these new images take so much strength.

We now understand that the chaos we had already glimpsed in previous works here finds its fulfillment. This energy organizes the world and makes it intelligible. Certainly for me « Abfolge » is one of the best books published this year!

All publications by Sergej Vutuc can be found here: http://www.sergejvutuc.bigcartel.com/category/publication

And his site: http://www.sergejvutuc.com/

 

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The renewal of protest books

According to the social medias’ new year’s wishes, there is a very pessimistic mood over what used to be our quiet little world ! But it is right that, if you consider the cold facts, the world seems turning upside down, just considering the wars, the terror attacks, the migrant crisis or the boost of weapon sells…

Well I can hear you saying, this is not the best way to start the year ! But in, the same time, more and more people started to engage themselves in a process of changing things in our society and it is no different in the photobook world with the emergence of a new form of protest books. I will write here about four different books published in 2016 on this topic of protestation…

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The first of these works is “Forthright, stronger than a weapon” by photographer Sascha Kraus. For six years, Sascha has traveled the world and especially the countries with an authoritarian government, in search of new musicians emerging from the world of rap music. Individuals protesting in their country of origin, some were forced into exile and are still banned in their country.

This is a 444 pages heavy book with more than 250 photos of 43 artists from 13 countries. The book is divided into 4 geographical chapters which are presented as the 4 sides of a double LP. Each of these sides introduces 4 or 5 singers or groups plus some interludes which shows the framework of the countries evoked. Each section is constructed as a monograph about the artist and includes portraits, ambient views of daily life, live shows or photographs taken in his home country. There is also an interview in which each artist explains the origins of his commitment and the roots of his music, as well as the lyrics translated into English of a song by each one, given to better understand the reasons for the fight!

I also want to draw your attention to the quality of the photos in this book and the high standarts of printing. The book is built as a music album and uses its codes in the layout, even in its dimension, the one of a LP, except as to the thickness, of course, since it was necessary to insert the 444 pages. One cannot avoid, for this book, to speak about the quality of the music presented. A limited edition is sold with a double vinyl including the songs featured in the book, which comes with an author’s print and a poster. But for those who prefer the trade edition, it is very easy to find on the internet the songs from the book. Far better than any “world music” label, Sascha takes us to a worldwide journey from which we don’t come unscathed. But it definitely helps maintain hope, by hearing all these committed artists who constantly fight for changing the world from the inside, and to build a world with more justice for all. A real remedy for melancholy and of course… The fight carries on!

More info : http://forthright-project.com/

 

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In a very different register but with a very strong power of protest, two small fascicules devoted to the migrants, and in particular to the jungle of Calais, were published during the year 2016.

The first one is a bootleg version of “Calais Mag”, the municipal bulletin that the mayor of Calais did not write. This special edition is a fake magazine in which the mayor of Calais renounces the construction of the enormous “Heroic Land” amusement park that the French state has committed to finance as a compensatory measure to the disagreement caused by the massive arrival of migrants, but also to reverse the “degraded” image suffered by the city of Calais due to the presence of migrants in the neighbourhood. Published by the PEROU (Pôle d’Exploration des Ressources Urbaines – Urban Resources Exploration Pole, collective of researchers, architects, landscape designers, graphic designers, photographers, sociologists, economists, lawyers and civil society stakeholders), this book proposes to “reinvent Calais” by allocating the money for the construction of the amusement park, to other projects aimed at fostering good integration, welcoming migrants and, above all, providing decent living conditions for all these people.

This version of Calais Mag is a sort of intermediate restitution of all the studies carried out on the jungle by the members of PEROU and lists the different actions carried out or yet to come. Originally published in 8000 copies, the magazine was distributed to all the inhabitants of Calais. A4 size with 32 pages.

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The second one, “Immo Refugee”, is exactly the same size with also 32 pages. Published by Defrost.ed – Marco Tiberio and Maria Ghetti. The series of photographs were made with a typological approach of all kind of constructions present in the “new jungle” around Calais for the subject : Invisible Cities. Architecture of Exodus.

What is now called the migrant crisis is a global problem between poor countries, at war and/or in which populations are threatened, oppressed, massacred… and rich countries, who refuse to share their wealth. This situation leads people to take enormous risks, simply to try to do what every human being would do to shelter his family and to provide decent living conditions. This magazine is a pastiche of the fascicles of real estate sales abundantly present in our mailboxes or in our newspapers and it remarkably reaches us, forced to face our own contradictions of Westerners. The book uses all the codes of capitalism to the excess. Photos of makeshift shelters constructed by migrants are here proposed for sale by habitat types and geographical areas (the Sudanese area, the Eritrean area …). Of course the contrast works perfectly when we see these makeshift huts described according to our standards of traditional comfort, touting the proximity of shops or the quality of insulation. There are even “Best offers” and “Best deals” or attractive offers of “prosperous business at a competitive price”.

All this could be laughing, but the laughter turns sour, up to the cover of the magazine with a tent proudly displaying the French flag, hope of a reception in the country of the human rights that seem long time forgotten. Published in an edition of 1000 copies, which is far too small, this book should be studied in schools … And last but not least, part of the revenues of the book sale will be destined to an Italian association based in Ravenna dealing with unaccompanied minor refugees.

More info : http://www.perou-paris.org/

http://www.defrostudio.eu/immorefugee

 

The last work I want to talk about here comes from Russia. This is “Identity Index” by Andrey Ivanov. This book is the fruit of long research on the use of public space as “writing desk” in service of certain ideas. It is obvious that this practice is not artistic, neither street art. It is more often an act of urgency, an irrepressible need to say things. Indeed, it is generally the case of people who are qualified as extremists, or marginalized, who do not have access to conventional means of expression or feel excluded. They then have only to appropriate the voids that they can fill with their expressions. Andrey Ivanov’s work is interesting on two levels.

The first level is that it focuses on this form of public writing that marks our environments. Of course, the one presented here is completely unknown to me, but each country and period have their own forms of expression. And we must not neglect the strength and power of these writings, not so much in terms of conviction as in terms of signs. Everyone passes in front of these signs, day after day, and their messages end up imbuing us. Our eye stops naturally on the text (this is the characteristic of the advertising signage) to read it. This first aspect is therefore more form-oriented; without addressing the subject, one can wonder about the existence of a public space of expression, which is not given, but which some appropriates. All protest movements, whatever they may be, have largely used this process.

The second level that this work reveals is more substantive: what are these messages, what do they mean, to whom do they address themselves? The act of making extremist statements is punishable by the Russian law, and the work presented here is a compilation of these marks, all of which would fall within the scope of the law that punishes all “incitement of national, racial, religious enmity or abasement of human dignity “. The combination of these words and expressions forms a long litany of hatred and apology for a strong Russia. But above all, it is the expression of hidden frustration that dares not show its true face, but which remains omnipresent in our societies, and can end in violence.

Finally, the choice of frame, by the photographer, gives us to see these signs as they are in the public space. The views are more or less wide, but always include the landscape crossed. Sometimes it is necessary to pay attention to discover the incriminated sentence, as a sign that one would notice only after several passages and which, all of a sudden, reveals itself! These ordinary landscapes bear an underlying tension, especially by their accumulation, a way of pointing something that we would have preferred to ignore. And in this also, this book contravenes the law, since it reproduces these words sanctioned by article 282 of the Russia’s Civil Code.

Self published in 2016, softcover 128 pages with a booklet with essays by Irina Chmyreva, Tatiana Mironova and A. Melnikov, both in a cardboard boxset in an edition of 88 copies.

More info : http://cargocollective.com/ivnv/Identity-Index

 


David’s House, by Alex Ingram

St Davids is a small village, at the end of the world (1841 inhabitants) where Alex spent a part of his childhood. Well, in fact, St Davids is a city ! I remember years ago, talking to an English friend about what is the difference between a city and a town, and he told me a city is a place with a cathedral. So St Davids is the smallest city of the United Kingdom, located at the westernmost point of the Pembrokeshire in Wales. The place takes its name from the settlement around the monastery that David, Saint Patron of Wales founded in the VIth century. The Welsh name « Tyddewi » means literraly David’s house, which is the title of the book.

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As often, the places in recluse areas are like islands, and the people who live there form an united community surrounded by a strong landscape, mainly of rocky coasts facing the sea. The landscape is both a constituent element and a unifying element. The landscape and the people become one. The community consists of a delicate mix between a landscape that shapes men and men who shape the landscape. There are however no struggle here, but rather a sort of ballet, a dance of seduction, a common love between Man and Nature.

As a native from this city, Alex returned to his hometown to meet the locals. A neighbour, Dai Turner, was the starting point of this work : a desire to go to meet the people and to better understand them. During a slow work, we go side by side with Alex. We stop for a chat with someone we met, a proud man standing in his workshop, his tools on a wall, talking about his former life as a coxswain on a lifeboat, and who can, now, spend hours looking out at the sea ; or a retired farmer explaining his first date with the girl who’s gonna become his wife, on a boat to collect seagull’s eggs ! Both the portraits and the texts are touching and full of empathy. The portraits are very successful, and the texts provide some « extra time ». They are a complement which creates a synergistic effect. The quality of Alex as portraitist makes them beautiful, but mostly manages to make us understand that community. Photographed in situation, we perceive a link, something intangible that makes them part of a whole. All generations mingled, from older, settled on the land for generations, to younger, who have recently moved and have chosen this place by love. All of them stand proudly and look straight at us and say: yes, we are here and nothing will make us leave this city.

And between these portraits, we traverse the moor, we walk through the countryside, we follow a stream … and always come back to the sea. It must be said that three quarters of the area are made of rocky coasts. Life here is punctuated by the tides. We leave the Cathedral and we go to the fields, pass by a housing estate, we see an old abandoned caravan, toilets close to mobile-homes, farms… There is no doubt that this work is a representation « from the inside », which is offered by someone initiated to roads and detours. Again, the texts come back to mind, they form a kind of soundtrack that accompanies our walk and then, some words become evident : how could it be otherwise ?

The main economy of the town is tourism, but we do not perceive tourists, neither the area around the cathedral or some souvenirs shops. St Davids, as presented to us here, is the one those tourists who spend breezed along the beautiful coast of Pembrokeshire, will probably never see. They will not take the time necessary to understand this place. They will never see the bulb on a ceiling, or green beans freshly picked from the garden beside a cup of tea. Neither they will see all the villagers gathered in the village city ballroom around a mulled wine and the Welsh flag proudly hanged on the wall. Then the night finally falls on St Davids when silence settles. We perceive a light behind the blinds of a house, we look at the starry sky above the village and the sea remains in mind, as it all began and where it ends, as a final tribute to the missing at sea, common tragedies for such territories.

I might as well continue, talking about each image, listening to these stories, but the best is to preserve a little mystery. You will need to take the time to discover Tyddewi ; and with Alex Ingram as a guide, we can feel we have all grown up here!

Limited Edition Hardback (edition of 20) + 10″x8″ archival print, handmade , 21,5 X 28,5 cm , 114 pages, 55 colour images and paperback edition of 50, perfect bound.

« David’s House » has been shortlisted for the South West Graduate Photography Prize! The project will be exhibited alongside 6 other photographers at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane between 13th-16th October, with the opening night on Thursday 13th October, followed by further exhibitions in Bristol and Falmouth.

More info : http://www.alexingramphoto.com/

Another book by Alex Ingram previously reviewed : https://whoneedsanotherphotoblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/09/the-sociology-of-football-an-unconditional-love-by-alex-ingram-and-fc-volga-united-by-sergey-novikov/

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Almost Bari, by Mara Dani

Take a guide book and this is how it will be spoken of Bari: both economic and cultural place, this university town has a long history and a charming old historical center. Take the time to discover the front door of Puglia, to walk its streets especially at the hour of the passeggiata. For me, I have mainly heard of Bari as a gateway for North African immigrants, more known during riots in 2011. It tells how much the connotation took precedence over the denotation.

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Mara Dani lives in Bari where she teaches English. She has also developed in recent years an interest in photography which she used to realize a systematic and methodical exploration of the city of Bari. To complete the connotation, the idea of Italian photography convenes instantly two famous names : Gabriele Basilico, undisputed master of architectural photography and Michelangelo Antonioni, undisputed master of boring peri-urban desolate environments. These two influences are found in the work of Mara Dani : a highly architected approach of the urban structure, alternating pictures, shot from above showing the typology of urban form with views from ground level that takes us erratically to one neighborhood to another.

With this work, Mara urges us to follow her and to get lost with her in the empty streets. Spaces are designed for cars and atmospheres are far from those of downtown (which I do not know), far from the hubbub and the linguistic frenzy that inhabits the films of Italian neorealist cinema. We are in contemporary Italy, which, like every big city has been urbanized frantically in the second half of the twentieth century. This city is a port city with a high density of population, and Bari is like all our western cities, including this seen before building or piece of wall. Only vegetation, or an earthenware retail attests that we are in the South… and then, suddenly, the turning of a page, a photo of the Istituto per le case popolari… this building finally reassures us, it corresponds to our preconceived image of Italy.

Throughout these pages, Mara Dani talks about contemporary issues such as urban landscapes, post industrial forsaken territories, resilience, conurbation, urban transportation … It is both the backstage of the city, and the everyday banality of a city life, all these locations made of spaces we cross every day without noticing, sometimes without even looking up. They evolve back and forward without anyone noticing. We well remember that here, in another time, there was a field, but don’t know since when the latter disappeared. The city is built like a gigantic palimpsest, each layer superimposed on the previous one, while erasing details. Our memory is diluted and only a few old postcards attest about our grandparents’ stories.

Mara’s look on her city remains always endearing, it takes us away from the waves of tourists who have invaded the historical city center. No selfies in these sets, there remains only the authenticity of a growing population to house at all costs. The beautiful title, itself, confirms this statement with both the accuracy and the vagueness of ambiguity : almost Bari.

Hardcover book, 16 x 21,5 cm, 92 pages, 77 black and white photos, foreword by Gian Luigi Sylos Labini and Alessandro Cirillo. 300 copies signed and numbered.

More info : http://www.maradani.it/recent-works/almost-bari/

And by the way, talking about contemporanean landscapes and Antonioni, you should also consider the beautiful Ravenna by Gerry Johansson. Ravenna was the location of the film « The red desert ».


The incredible good health of the photozine world !

When I was studying photography, there was only one photo bookshop in Paris in addition to the Centre National de la Photographie. The books were quite expensive and hard to find. Digital technology has changed all that. Photographers from all around the world are in constant contact, they share their practice and publish their work in forms as diverse than varied. For prices ranging from 5 to 20 euros, you find little gems, self-published in small print run. Some publishers have built their success with this type of publication: Café Royal Books, The Velvet Cell, Antler Press, Brown Owl Press, Another Place Press amongst my favorite (sorry for the  forgotten).

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Some goodies amongst recent publications:

Filling the gaps, by Tamas Bernath

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The title speaks for itself, this book recounts an experience that lasted a year. When at the end of their studies in Budapest Tamas and his girlfriend have felt the need to take a break before settling. To do this, they chose Ireland and arose in a Camphill Community. We discover daily life in the book, Ireland with its landscapes, but more specifically its inhabitants. Images are emotionally charged; if one has already visited Ireland, he’ll recognize this specifical atmosphere, this attention and care to each other. The community as a metonymy of Ireland. Tamas shared his emotions with us, we feel the pleasure he took over this year. We feel resourced in his company through the pages. The layout is simple and enhances storytelling by creating rhythms. It almost gets to feel the salt splash on our skin. Finally we are sad at the end, in the plane, while on the ground the last friends are watching from. But at least we still have memories… and this beautiful book.

Self-published, 20 x 14 cm, 56 pages, color laser print, first edition (2015) of 50 copies sold out. Second edition (2016) of 50 copies available here : http://tamasbernath.com/

 

O vazio é um espelho, by Carine Wallauer

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The title in Brazilian means: emptiness is a mirror. The book as an exercise, while all portrait is a self-portrait. The eyes are the mirror of the soul, it is said! Through the pages, this book becomes obsessive, it shows and hides at a time. From the cover, it disturbs us. We guess a face, but we must open the flap to see it. Same for the title of the book, sewn reversed on the cover, that becomes readable inside the flap, hidden behind the face that we just discovered with haunting eyes that will punctuate the narrative. Later on we find the young woman away in sand dunes, drowning in his own tracks. The landscape is empty, and she even tends to disappear. Then comes a new experience: a cinematic sequence of close-ups of the face, a mouth that smiles, eyes looking straigh forward, they seem frozen, the face then, with closed eyes at last. The character is permanently frozen in a time out, you could say “like death.” the following pages are sewn with the same string that was used for the title. We try to see a sequel, but the human figure has gone, there is nothing to see between the pages but emptiness! Later on, we find back the young woman naked on a beach. It looks different, the previous pages have created an intimacy, but it does not concern us anymore, her eyes run off fields. This image disturbs, she is refused to us and offers instead a body with no soul. Colophon appears attached to the next page, the thread has changed, it is white and stands at its end a small color photo, the girl fade away a little bit more. On the back are indicated the credits. The disappearance of the woman in the sand dunes, like a memory that fades. It is then questioned if the meeting was real or just a figment of our imagination … Finally remains an empty part of the first photo, to remind us this meeting… or not.

Self-published, 15 x 21 cm, 28 pages, black and white photos, first edition (2015) of 50 copies sold out, second edition (2015) of 200 copies available here : http://carinewallauer.com/o-vazio-e-um-espelho-1

 

The Mirror, by Khashayar Zand

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This book is a compilation of several years of work spent observing public space in Tehran. Subject to very strict rules, the organization of this public space is often a reflection of the authoritarian regime. In a street photography tradition, Khashayar is tracking what he called small acts of rebellion, which, faced with this authoritarian regime, becomes an act of resistance. A kind of resilience of the people which is reflected by little touches. These images are quite ordinary, and we discover places that seem known to us, almost already seen. It is likely that these images contain codes that we are not directly accessible to us Westerners: everything seems peaceful and quiet. It emerges even some poetry from this collection. We discover a town from the inside, far from the tourist clichés. We feel like visiting a friend, go shopping with him. We are impregnated by the city, through its ambience, its atmosphere. Tehran is discovered from behind… the Mirror.

Self-published in Weimar, 18,5 x 12,5cm, 78 pages, color photos printed on 80g recycled paper. Available here : http://xziii.tumblr.com/post/140523093578/i-am-happy-to-announce-that-my-second-photobook

 

Plain Vanilla in the town of love, by John Menneer

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Plain vanilla is the second volume in what John called « The monograph series » which comprises so far 4 volumes. In this book, John takes us to Te Aroha, a Maori name which means « place of love » located at the foot of the mount of the same name. From everyday observations, John depicts the place with as less interpretations as he can, trying to let the natural beauty of the place emerge. The rural town is quiet under bright sunny days. Nobody in the streets, which gives the impression of a complete silence. Even the cars are parked. Life has gone and we wonder if what we see is a real town or a movie set, where everything is in place, waiting for the crew to arrive. I really like this way of photographing, because it lets the form of the town to emerge from the natural environment, defining an anthropized landscape. This booklet remind me a lot my own practice in photography. And last but not least, the booklet is beautifully printed for a very reasonable price. Each volume is dedicated to a different approach or interpretation of a landscape situation and I consider John Menneer as one of the very talented contemporary landscape photographers.

Softcover, Saddle stitched, 32 pages + cover, 21 x 14,8 cm, 31 black and white photos. High-quality digital printing, 120 gsm off-white gloss, 1st Edition print run of 100. Available here : http://photo.johnmenneer.co.nz/

 

Fear of disappearance, by Mariya Ustymenko

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The book starts with : how can the anxiety of change be visually expressed ? And this is the challenge of this beautiful book, how the changing of a town (London) interfere with our own feelings and stability, toward a place we are supposed to know. The book has a nice design which is understandable when you know that is has been done under the mentorship of the regretted Akina Factory which has been for a short time one of the best book Publisher I have known. In this book, we walk the streets of what appears to be an English town, London is never mentioned, and the purpose is to draw a larger context. Two main elements punctuate our walk. The first one is a young girl who appears from place to place, never really sure if she’s the same or just the memory of her pasted on a new encounter. The second is the light which draws a line between the sequences. An object touched by the grace of light suddenly appears and becomes the focus of our attention. The narration alternates the scales of representation to emphasize the trouble we feel. The book succeed incredibly well in stressing us, creating the concern of cause and effect. The people we meet are never real, they’re like ghosts or partially erased. There is nobody to lean on, just a zone to cross accompanied by a stalker. Do we already know this place, have we been here before ? We stand all along the book on the edge of the disappearance. The kind of book which needs time to be completely digested.

Concept and photography: Mariya Ustymenko, sequencing and printing: Akina Factory, Size: A5, 52 pages, digital printing, 31 black and white photos. Available here : http://www.mariyaustymenko.com/

 

South, by Fabio M. Roque

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Imagine… that you go to the South… reading Henry Miller and taking photos… There is no straight subject in this book, and that is why I like it a lot. In fact, the subject is elsewhere, maybe in the South, or more surely in the head of the photographer. The need to change, and the camera which could be part of the therapy. Using the camera as a sketchbook without the possibility to look back. Some catharsis elements, the light, the sea, the skin… The book as an analysis, everything put on paper, to record them, to save them… for later, in case. Things on paper to remember, dont forget, I was there, I know that. It does not have a beginning, neither an end, that’s just an extract. We dont have the keys, but it may mean a lot for the author. Then we must confront images to our memories, we are looking for details to assume. It is not that important to understand, but rather to share. Well, imagine…

Size A5, 44 pages, black ans white photos, edition of 50, signed & numbered. Available here : http://www.theunknownbooks.net/South

 

Soleil du Nord, by Industrie 950

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The neglected areas of suburban environments, that is the subject of this book. And knowing me, you may understand why I love this book so much. Photos are from different countries (France, Belgique, Portugal) and that is what becomes interesting, because it creates one single typology. It is a collection of details, of places of non interest, places that nobody visit. The ugliness as an aesthetics, colors and forms become an abstraction, the exact opposite of the « decisive moment ». The subject would stay still till the end of the world. But all those photographs are our daily. Everyday, we pass by one of those scenes without giving it a look. Thus the photographer stops here and tell us : look ! And for the anecdote, all photos are shot with analog films.

Size A5, 44 pages, color photos, edition of 50 numbered. Available here : http://industrie950.bigcartel.com/product/soleil-du-nord

 

Ichi no hi, by Haruna sato

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Ichi no hi is a conceptual project started in 2011, when Haruna decided to take photos every first day of each month. So far, 5 volumes have been published and the interesting point is that it tells a continuous story with a rhythm of one day per month. The idea came out on January 31st 2011, when Haruna thought « how will it be if I exhibit photos taken on every 1st day of the month… ». So it all started on February 1st 2011. By choosing one single day every month, Haruna focus on her daily life. We discover her working place, food, people walking in the street, leisures… This is a complete catalogue of Japanese life, from streets to interiors, we follow Haruna in her life, we meet people and friends, we cross streets, go to work, visit places, share moments. As some other famous Japanese photographers, the camera and the photography are part of her life – it seems than more than any elsewhere, in Japan, photography and life are closely linked for photographers. The photos come with text, sometimes a caption, sometimes some thoughts which enlighten the photographs. Color photographs have appeared in volume 5 and the photographs are more and more structured and organised. We follow Haruna gaining maturity in photography, year after year, from her debut, at the age of 25, till, well, let’s see how long it will last ! But I have hope for many more years !

Size A5 , 32 pages black and white photos, edition of 250, volume 1 is sold out, but you can find copies of all other volulmes here : http://satoharuna.theshop.jp/


Ukraine, what’s up ? Presentiment by Yulia Krivich and Holy water by Christopher Nunn

In February 2014, the world turned their eyes towards the Maidan in Kiev, which became known as Euromaidan. The population rose up to chase a corrupt leader in the pay of Russia. Many photographers were there to testify, and during Paris Photo in November of that year, we discovered beautiful photobooks that came out of this popular experience. Then Russia annexed the Crimea and there was (is) a war in the Donbass … And then nothing!

This is one of the problems of Western society that has the ability to ignite quickly to support people, but that has, too, the same ability to forget them once the crisis has passed, even if the problems remain.

This is why these two works are remarkable. Both are confronted with the reality of everyday life, and thus, they’re confronting opposite approaches of their origins. Yulia Krivich is of Ukrainian origin and currently lives in Poland, while Christopher Nunn is an English photographer who shares time between England and Ukraine. And finally, both have produced a book, both from works in progress, which are as fragile as the current Ukrainian society.

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Yulia Krivich choose an innovative form for her book. It is a newsprint, folded and stitched inside a hardcover binding. Her vision comes after the Ukrainian crisis, and we feel all of her cultural impregnation. She returns to her homeland to face this changing society. This is a committed book she proposes, concerned, not here in the sense of the denunciation of a problem, but rather as an expression of a deep feeling that she will try to share with us: her own feeling, facing with the reality that she finds again during each trip in Ukraine. Hence her title of Presentiment! Her photographs go through various states, sometime contemplative and peaceful, sometime charged with an underlying violence, like these armed men or a scar of unknown origin.

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Yulia manages efficiently to share with us her anxieties. If one begins his book with calm and serenity, tension is gradually seizing us, distorting the meaning of images and making us doubt their significance. Any attempt of appeasement is systematically offset by a factual return to reality of violence. We finally don’t know anymore if we feel our own anguish, or the result of the unstable situation in this society, transformed by violent changes. The form itself of this publication reinforces this feeling: the fragility of newsprint in its protective hardbound case.

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Christopher Nunn has chosen to show us the Ukrainian society through the prism of Christianity.

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His work does not take place after the revolution, neither has a real connection with it. He began his series in 2013 and his work is still in progress, but it is impossible to look at this series without having in mind the recent troubles.

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The main interest of this work is to send us backward to a forgotten humanity. The medias have focused on land issues, the annexation of the Crimea, Donbass war questioning the Russian border, but beyond these questions of territory, there are human beings, people who share time together, having fun or being sad, who speak or who stand proudly… Well, they’re living!

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With Christopher’s help, we enter into the intimacy of families. We are not here as tourists but rather friends visiting, who came to share a moment. I particularly like the lighting that gives us Christopher Nunn on the Ukrainian society. This is the kind of work that we need, to continue to understand a society subjected to changes, to inner or outer attacks, and which finally shows the resilience of the human being.

Presentiment by Yulia Krivich, published by Fundacja Sztuk Wizualnych in 2015. Newsprint 24 x 32,5 cm folded in a hardcover binding 17 x 24 cm. 40 pages, 20 colour photographss. 300 copies signed.

Holy water by Christopher Nunn, published by Village in 2015. Softcover 23 x 32 cm. 40 pages with 23 colour photographs. 500 copies (first 100 come with a C print).

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More info :

http://yuliakrivich.com/presentiment-1/

http://www.shop.sztukawizualna.org/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=250

http://www.christophernunn.co.uk/holy-water-publication/

http://www.villagebookstore.co.uk/products/holy-water/

 


The sociology of football : An unconditional love, by Alex Ingram and FC Volga United by Sergey Novikov

In the mid seventies, as a teenager, one of my biggest concern was football, particularly because, in France, it was the glorious time of « Les verts » the football team of Saint Etienne which gained access, in 1976, to the final of what was then the equivalent of the European champions league. I with my friends had a crazy spring time watching all matches until the last one versus the Bayern who defeated St Etienne 1-0. In those days, every spare moment was dedicated to play with a ball or… to collect Panini stickers and save them in a, seasons after seasons, never finished album. I discovered recently that, nowadays you can buy the missing vignettes from their internet site, clever business !

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« Un unconditional love » could have been, at least in the first part, my own story and that’s probably why I like it so much. What Alex Ingram shows us here is the true and honest passion an amateur could have for football in its more noble consideration.

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The book is organised around what could be the story of someone. It opens with black and white photos of kids playing in fields, backyard houses. We instantly recognize the English greyness which remind the film Kes by Ken Loach : here the bird is replaced by a ball, but the young boy has real similarities with Billy Casper. So when the « film » begins with the first pictures we’re caught by the story.

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Then we move a little further, times are changing and photos are now in color. We follow the teenager, having his first official team shirt, playing his debut matches in front of a couple of spectators, in some almost deserted stadia with not nets for the goals and a burger van for restaurant. All those sequences interlaced so we never really know if we follow one single person or if we have different characters who interact.

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The middle part of the book is dedicated to the memories. Of course here are the Panini vignettes which alternate with contemporary photographs shot in studio by Alex Ingram. The confrontation turns to a funny mixture. The old photos are incredibly dated 70’s while the studio photos are modern young women standing in sport suits, showcasing the evolution of this sport which was mainly, or even only, a male game in the 70’s. There is a great attention to the use of color and black and white which emphasizes the passing of time. Amongst the collections of photographs we found some old black and white pictures « from the archives », photos from the 70’s are grainy and faded while the recent ones are bright and colorful. It is in the middle of this section that comes an essay by Senior Lecturer in Sociology David Green who explains his equivocal love for Liverpool team but more generally for football.

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To stay on the tracks of the amateurism, the third part is about supporters. We follow them down the streets, wearing scarves, drinking beers, shouting loud or staring sad, depending on the occasion. We meet people alone but also crowds, people chating or watching religiously, respectful or kidding… This is a portrait of the humankind in its glory and decadence. This is what makes all human being lovable with his strengths and weaknesses. We meet babies, young fellows and elderly people, all generations share the same passion for football. Well… This is England !

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What is not the less remarkable with this body of work is that nowadays many photographers work on autobiography which is not the case here. Alex has never been a football fan and his work has much to be considered in a documentary style. He was intrigued by the sociological aspects of football in England and focused around his hometown Bristol. In this work, there is a direct filiation with some famous English documentary photographers Daniel Meadows, Chris Killip, Paul Graham (early years) or more recently Ken Grant or Jim Mortram, amongst many others.

Softcover book, 21 x 28 cm, design by Yee Poon, 118 pages, self published in a first edition of 10. A second edition is already planned. Published in 2015.

More info : http://www.alexingramphoto.com/football

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This book remind me another very good one published a few years ago. It is called « FC Volga United », by Sergey Novikov. Despite the fact that they are very different, they share a lot. The topic of Sergey’s book is the football clubs all along the Volga river which all got an FC Volga name.

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The book comprises three kind of photographs : portraits of players standing on the field and staring proudly to the camera, photos of the Volga river in the nearby area and pictures of the stadia with their surrounding environment and where a competition takes place. Between photos we found texts about the ambiance before, during and after the matches which explain the context with sentences heard around the stadium.

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In this book again, what is magnified is the amateurism and the passion for a game. And maybe for us in the Western world, there are some more resonnances due to the magical evocation of the Volga River amongst which is the Red Army Chorus singing the Volga Boatmen or some cinematographic reminiscences from Alexander Nevsky in Nizhny Novgorod.

FC Volga United is a small softcover book, 13,5 x 21 cm, 60 pages. The first edition was limited to 25 and came with a small 10 x 15 cm print. A second edition is available. Published in 2011.

More info : http://sergeynovikov.com/index.php?/projects/fc-volga-united/

All images copryright Alex Ingram and Sergey Novikov.


Meta-photography, surveillance and control.

We have discovered recently that our whole society is under surveillance and control.

It has recently been revealed that our society is under the NSA surveillance. Yes the previous sentence is cancelled because I don’t imagine that anybody would have been credulous enought to not knowing that ! Just to remind you, in 1988, the existence of the Echelon spy network was already revealed.

Well, these revelations are, for me, the opportunity to talk about six pieces of work connected to this topic.

The first one « I wish you were here », was realised during an artist residency. A book was published in 2011, as an artist book of 40 copies, printed on risography, by Eduardo Serafim. For the series, Eduardo got access, via internet, to some surveillance cameras which were monitoring public or private spaces. From the pictures captured, he made postcards which were sent to public people, indicating the IP address of the camera and the words : I wish you were here. This work emphasizes the relationship between citizens and privacy. Eduardo first reveals how much everything we do is monitored (even with the agreement of people who accept the monitoring because of the safety) and how easy it is to get access to this monitored world, then becoming an intruder or voyeur in someone else’s life. It also questions the fact that, even if we know that we are under surveillance, do we really understand what it means ? And knowing that, will this change our way of acting in a monitored area ? In a second level, he plays with the interaction between private and public by sending the printed postcards to public people. We mainly send postcards to people we know in our privacy circle, so the questions become : how much do we know someone, and what means knowing someone ? Well, in which society do we live ?

http://www.eduardoserafim.com/iwishyouwerehere.html

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The second one is Andrew Hammerand « The New Town », another artist book published in a limited edition of 25. The photos are all taken from one single point of vue from a controllable security camera, in a midwestern town, showing people outside, shopping, siting on a lawn or the town at night. What we discover is a slice of time in the life of a town and we can only imagine what are the activities that are monitored: behind trees, we discover some people who may either be burglars or friends talking outside. The use of a security camera draws our mind to suspect and question what we see. Again, for the purpose of security, people accept to be under surveillance, and here again, it questions this acceptance. The book becomes a kind of security report notebook for safety purposes, even using a spiral bound.

http://www.andrewhammerand.com/the_new_town/index.html

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The next book that I will talk about is Joachim Schmid recent « X marks the spot ». Joachim Schmid is an activist in book publishing, using a lot the « print on demand » process. Here he shows a collection of pictures made with the camera located in Dallas – Texas, on Dealey Plaza. The originality of this camera is that its purpose is not the security. This location is the exact point of vue that had the sniper when he killed J. F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Everyday, many people try to avoid cars to reach the X marked on the ground, indicating the position of the car of the President, to be photographed on the site. This book fits completely with the manifesto which was proclaimed in 2012 in Arles, called « From here on », as a statement for the basis of a new photography, whom Joachim Schmid was one of the signatories. This work tells less about control and surveillance than about the appropriation of an historical event with the new materials and technologies, but also about globalization which means that we are able to transport ourselves on the other side of the planet to be spectator, or voyeur, of an instant. It is dizzying when you see someone on the other side of the camera who is moving : could, this person, at this precise moment, have in mind that you are watching him from your desktop ? (at least this is what I feel when I use those kind of livecams).

http://schmid.wordpress.com/works/x-marks-the-spot-2013/

http://schmidbooks.wordpress.com/

http://www.earthcam.com/usa/texas/dallas/dealeyplaza/

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About surveillance, a nice book has been published this year. It is « Top Secret, Images from the Archives of the Stasi » by Simon Menner. In 1992, the archives of the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit commonly known as the Stasi, were officially opened to the public. Thematically, the book presents some of those treasures, chapter by chapter. We find photos of people or locations (mailboxes…) who have been under surveillance, but the best part is the collection of photos for the instruction of agents, like disguises collection or the use of secret codes to communicate and remaining under cover. With all due respect to the period and what it meant, some photos are hilarious.

http://www.simonmenner.com/pages/Stasi-Index.htm

http://www.hatjecantz.de/simon-menner-top-secret-5654-1.html

http://www.hatjecantz.de/fotoblog/?p=2155

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The two last photographers whose I will talk, share the same topic, which is more about control than surveillance (and they also share nationality, they are both from England).

The first one is David Moore and his book « The last things » was published in 2008. From September 2006 to April 2007, David Moore, with the support of Arts Council of England, was granted access to the underground military facility which is maintained to be used in case of emergency. It is a fully equiped facility from where the government could continue to lead the country. In the photographs, we only see some furnitures, objects, rooms and cupboards. It looks like an unused area, what it is in fact, but, what is frightening, is that everything is prepared to be used and everything is considered at the same level, whatever it is a bibelot or a broadcasting video camera, prepared for some emergency statement. We can almost feel claustrophobic because of the absence of natural light. It has a lot of similarities with a prison, with corridors and doors/gates. What makes this facility so oppressive is also the fact that we know the purpose of it. Every important data has been erased on request, so things here are very serious. If that would be a kind of playground for kids, we would completely change our mind when reading the photos, but knowing the purpose, we can’t avoid thinking to a post disaster world as seen in some anticipation books or movies, imagining the deserted chaos outside, and knowing that we would stay outside as all other common people.

http://davidmoore.uk.com/projects/the-last-things

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The last book I will talk about was published early this year and is one of my favorite book of the year. « Control order house », by Edmund Clark was published by Here Press. Edmund Clark was already known for his work in Guantanamo « If the light goes out » which was a reflection about the different ways of living in Guantanamo and the consideration of what is « home » for detainees and militaries. The subject of Edmund Clark’s new work is a house in which people, under suspicion of terrorism, are detained. For the book, Edmund Clark was allowed to stay, as a guest, in the house, together with the controlled man, detained here. This were three days in December 2011. In the book, Edmund mixes photographs and documents about, as he is named, CE’s case, as a diary, letters, and trial pieces. What he shows in his photographs is a documentation of the house. Each photo is automatically named by the camera, from _MG_2555.jpg to _MG_3065.jpg which supposes that none of the pictures have been erased. It becomes a complete recording of each square foot. The missing of a recognisable name prevents us to appropriate the photos. With the simple name of « sofa » we could throw ourselves, by imagination, and sit on the sofa but it remains impossible because it is not a sofa, it is just a number. This reminds us the famous series « The Prisonner » who claimed « I am not a number, I am a free man ». The denial of a name, by metaphor becomes the negation of freedom. Here the control and surveillance is felt by the quantity of photos which means that no corner, neither object has been omitted. No part of the house can remain secret or hidden (here again is a strong analogy with the series in which the prisonner always knew he was observed). The only warm presence, in the series, is a cat and everything is unpersonal because the identity of the man living here must remain unknown and the same for the location of the house. Aesthetics of the pictures is absolutely raw and they look like blind shots without framing, or made with a hidden camera. This raw quality emphasizes the impression of a restricted area where photos are not allowed which is, again, a denial of freedom (since the Vietnam war, the governements know that what has to remain unknown must not be photographed). The photos could come from the archive of a secret police or could have been shot by a programed computer directed by a remote control. It becomes very disturbing when we experience the feeling and the anxiety of a custody.

http://www.herepress.org/publications/edmund-clark-control-order-house/

http://www.edmundclark.com/

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All images copyright Eduardo Serafim, Andrew Hammerand, Joachim Schmid, Simon Menner, David Moore, Edmund Clark and the publishers. Can be removed on request.


Convergence – Wei Leng Tay

First of all, this is a beautiful and very quiet book. The simplicity of the cover makes us want to discover it. A red linen cover with a tipped in photo of an old B&W portrait of her grand aunt. Here starts the investigation. We are going to dive in a family story. In fact this is Wei Leng’s story. She was born in Singapore after her family moved from Malaysia, and years before from China. What she shows us here is a kind of selfportrait in the thickness of the time. It is something very difficult to understand for me as an European, I have to admit that the Far East is, for me, very similar whatever country we are talking about. But in fact, she will slowly explain us that there are many cultural differences that remain attached to where you are from. This is what she explores through this collection of photographs : What it means to be Chinese in Singapore.convergence01

The pages alternate with portraits, open spaces or still life pictures.

We start back in time, or to better say with photos of elderly people, like the metaphor, in the first picture, of so many clocks on the top of a bed, witnessing the passing of time. The portraits are really soft and full of tenderness. People remain very quiet and are never staring at the camera. We don’t feel like intruders despite this lack of attention from the one portraited but rather like a friend visiting, who silently wait to catch the attention of the person. We don’t want to disturb. We just look at the time passing with each little change from a generation to another. She selected among many, people originated from China, living in Singapore. Each story becomes Wei Leng’s story. Sometimes, we take part to a family scene with two, three or more participants having dinner together, watching TV or playing with kids. These are ordinary scenes of the daily life, like the ones we all know at home filled by our own cultural background and this is probably the reason why we understand so well those photographs. All over the world, we sit together for dinner or to watch TV and everybody plays with his kids… All the portraits are shot in natural light from a similar distance which is just the one to remain distant and shows the occupant fairly concentrated on their duty. This is how we perceive the slight tension outcropping from the multicultural society, some decoration on a wall, an object on a shelf. All those little details that give the strenght and the thickness of a pictures. We also perceive the changing of habits with the different generations. The surroundings are not the same for the grand parents, the young parents with kids or for the teenagers. This is the changing of the modern society with the loss of traditions.

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Sometimes, we focus on details, in still life photographs. Even if they seem beautifully arranged, they all return us questions about the owner of the place, like the one already mentionned, of the top of the bed full of clocks, or when we discover a collection of old photos about which we could start a discussion about family remained abroad or kids that emigrated. On the opposite, we discover a teenager in his room, surrounded by modern objects that seem to come out from globalization market (computer or pieces of furniture) or a young couple sitting beside a tree, which could be in a urban park, like in every city in the world.

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The organisation of the book itself, strengthens this evolution, starting with elderly persons and ending with a young one sitting on his bed with an Apple laptop or a young woman, outside at night, enlightened by the lights of a BMW car which refers strongly to the western way of life.

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The last part of the book comes as a complement. These are transcripted interviews in a natural way of speaking, that were conducted between 2009 and 2010 by Wei Leng Tay amongst the Chinese people portraited. Some are very nostalgic but some are also very funny like talking about KFC for a family reunion dinner.

This is a beautiful book that may resonate in me because I am coming from Bretagne in the West part of France, and my grandmother spoke and understood the native language, my father understand it but don’t speak it, and I neither speak nor understand it. All over the world the capitalism drives us to a globalized world. We buy food at KFC or McDo, we buy clothes at H&M or GAP and buy furnitures at IKEA. This book definetely says more than a simple personal story, it says about globalization.

Published in 2013

Print run : 500

More info : http://www.convergence-wlt.com/