Vera y Victoria is a simple book, a book about love, but above all a refreshing book, at a time when many countries question the notion of couple, sometimes legislating toward a direction or another, about union between two people when, finally, it should only concern themselves. The notion of gender is at the heart of the work of Mar Saez and his book, smooth and subtle, gives us a tender look on the concept of couple.
When they kissed, for the first time in a park, Vera told Victoria she was transsexual. Things were said and the budding love was going to flourish in this relationship. From 2012 to 2016, Mar Saez will share the intimacy of the couple. For the two V. nothing will count but their relationship that they will live fully. With grace and elegance, we share moments of complicity of the couple: close-ups on gestures, stop on fleeting moments, loaded with emotion, Mar Saez does not stay outside the story and that is why she manages to convey her empathy. We are always very close, without ever falling into any form of voyeurism. The two young women give everything of their love, their joy, their happiness. They are one. Their respective identities are never mentioned in the book, reinforcing this impression of unity of their story, of their bodies, of their love. Transsexuality is evoked only in one image, in the middle of the book, as if to punctuate the story, but also to say that we must leave preconceived ideas elsewhere. Love has no sex, no genre, it is a particular alchemy which it would be very difficult to explain.
The quality of this work really has to do with the choice of the moments photographed. We are far from any anecdote or clichés. The story is intense and we feel it through a kind of tension that is created between the photographs. A rhythm appears between these bodies which approach each other, touching each other, moving away, then coming closer again, unable to bear the idea of being at a distance any longer. Small moments succeed the biggest, or, to better say, the more intense. The whole book is punctuated by texts, thoughts laid on paper, the need to say, to shout, their happiness to the face of the world.
The intensity of a story that, ultimately, is told, but more over lived. The book is an ellipse, it begins with entwined bodies, and ends in the same way, the story has no beginning nor end. No matter how long it will last, the story is timeless. Mar Saez opened a window for us, and now it’s time to retire, the parenthesis closes and the story goes on … or not. But this is no longer very important because we have seen moments of grace, moments of happiness, moments of joy: everybody’s ultimate quest. And a last special mention for the quality and the beauty of the black and white photography.
Published by Editions André Frère in 2016, softcover, 16,5 x 21,8 cm. 80 pages, 43 photographs in black and white.
It’s been a while since my last post, so today is a batch of seven Romanian photobooks.
Let me start first with two books by Oliver Merce. They are both the result of a long term project conducted in Anina County in Romania where Ceausescu dreamed to build an enourmous power plant complex.
The first book is « The anatomy of decay ». Through several chapters, all in black and white photographs, Oliver presents us the two main entities in the district of Anina: the petrified city of Crivina and “The New Town” which was built to accompany the future development of the area.
The New Town is the megalomaniacal aspiration of a dictator: building a city ex nihilo, not in function of classical geomorphological considerations, but just because of an unbelievable desire to mark his reign with traces of his power. Gigantic buildings appear on the horizon, on a ridge, huge abandoned carcasses among which roar phantoms that have no other place to live, prisoners in this void!
In Crivina, we discover a population that is busy with everyday tasks, among concrete and steel wastes left behind after the power plant was stopped. After years of hope in a modern, better world, most of them have returned to agrarian tasks, while immense abandoned cathedrals of concrete punctuate the landscape in which they work. The contrast is striking between this decayed technology and the vernacular traditions. Oliver is always close to the people, showing great empathy. The book is classical, sober and generous. We really take the time to immerse ourselves in the heart of these populations, to live with them, to understand them.
More d’info : http://www.olivermerce.ro/book-order/books/
The second book, or rather a booklet, is named « Juju ».
The book has been published by Oliver Udy in what is called the « Antler Documents » series. In this publication, Oliver Merce focus on an inhabitant of Crivina and offers us a beautiful portrait. Juju was a talented musician and philosophy passionate, but his father decided that he had to join the army, finally becoming a Civil Engineer. That’s how he started working in Anina, until the accident in 2006 which forced the mine to close.
Now Juju is still living in the old building where he used to work, at the margin of the society. The book is constructed with a great empathy and it is almost impossibile not to fall in love with Juju ! This is the perfect companion book of « The anatomy of decay ».
More info : http://www.antlerpress.co.uk/juju.html
Another work takes us into the mountains area, accompanied by a shepherd named Ion.
Ion is the title of the book by Gabriel Amza who has spent a week by his side, last year, in the Sureanu Mountains, documenting his everyday life. In the company of Ion, his dog and his family, we discover black and white photographs of a pastoralism that exists only in the rural world furthest from the cities. Secular traditions transmitted generations after generations have often been erased by urbanism and capitalism. Profitability, efficiency have gained the upper hand over a way of living in relation to the environment. In this book Gabriel Amza takes time to understand what rhythms life in the countryside; the cycle of days, animals, nature and seasons. Ion lives in symbiosis with the mountain around, and the book alternates the naturalist views of these majestic landscapes with small scenes of the ordinary and touching daily life.
We confront here a documentary photography close to the subject and after a few pages, we feel like being at home with the main character, talking to Ion, understanding what animates him. The photos are precisely framed and they plunge us into the world of the shepherd, in these small details that make his daily life.
Personally, the reproach that I would make to the book is the choice of an accordion binding, which brings no adding value. Reading the images one after the other, it becomes rather embarrassing because it does not restore the intensity of each moment lived. It does not really give justice to the slowness of the ambaince.
From static oblivion, by Ion Grigorescu is a book recently published by the young Publisher Avarie whose it is only the third book.
Using many contemporary techniques, Ion Grigorescu is one of the most reknown Romanian artist from the communist period. Painter, photographer, film maker and performer, this book is a kind of anthology of his long career. The book itself is a performance, mixing different techniques in a collage, pages after pages. We are completely immerged in his work, with notes, photograms or extracts of videos of his performances, texts that tells us the genesis of certain actions, all chanted, as a pattern that repeats until exhaustion. This exhaustion to which he could have been subject from the communist authorities and the censorship.
The book is chronological, we go through a decade alongside Ion, his style evolves, his actions also, we get lost in ellipses, we go through a story told by photographs, drawings… The book is very dense, the whole printed on a very fine paper, with the sensation of going through fragile moments. It is not easy to talk about this book but holding it in your hands is an experience in itself. Really a great discovery!
Costică Acsinte was born in 1897, during WW I, he’ll be an official war photographer, before opening, in 1920, his own photo studio « Foto Splendid C. Acsinte » in Slobozia.
In 1985, the Ialomița County History Museum aquires more than 5000 photographic plates made by Acsinte between 1935–1945, and since 1991, all images are into Public Domain. The museum has been recently publishing a few books of his work which are definitely brilliant. The volume presented here is called Social life (Viața socială) and is a fantastic collection of group and single portraits. The photographs are sorted by thematic series, farmers, school photographs, musicians, sport, traditions, leisures… and we discover a wonderful testimonial of the Romanian life in the first half of XXth century !
All images are printed rather small, probably at the negative size or slightly larger. Some of them bear the beautiful traces of time with cracked gelatin or burned part which sometime give even the photos an added aesthetics value.
Well I may add here a book which is not stricly speaking a photobook, but a large photojournalist work about the Armenian community in Romania.
« Armenians in Romania. The stories of the people close to us. » by Andreea Tanase is a 3 years long project. During those years Andreea explored sixteen different cities in Romania where Armenians settled after leaving their country in 1915 when the Armenian genocide occured. She mainly focused around the Armenian Church as a positive pole of the community, as the Church has always kept a important role to gather the people. All the photos are very insightful and at the closest of the people. We share their moments during daily events of their life, with some beautiful and touching portraits. A very interesting book for those interested by this important part of history.
More info : http://www.andreeatanase.com/
Finally, to complete this series of books, a last work that comes from Belgium and whose subject is Romania. Tomas Bachot revisits the codes of the documentary in his book « Those who eat fish from the cyanide lake improve their sex life ».
After a discussion with Matei, a Romanian guy he met during a student job, who told him about the problems related to the reopening of the gold mines in Romania, he decided, in 2015, to go there for a reportage.
Tomas started to show his first pictures to his hosts who were immediately shocked by his images, by what he was showing of their country. Tomas realized that he came to take pictures with a connotated vision of Romania, and that he was finally only looking for confirmation. This observation made him to question his work and thus became more interested by the essence of the reportage : what is objectivity and, moreover, what does it mean ? Tomas shared his time with his subjects by bus from Belgium where he lives until Romania. He slept with them, showed them his photos, talked about the reasons of his journey… and finally through this book, Tomas questions the codes of representation. How everyone clearly shows, in a way, what he meets on his way. The title of the book is a sentence from the mayor of a village located in the Golden Quadrilateral in the Apuseni Mountains of Transylvania, in order to affirm that groundwater poisoning due to the exploitation of gold mines can be a blessing. The book is therefore very well named and this is how Tomas will unfold it, constantly confronting his point of view with the one of his hosts, being very often on the verge of confrontation. The tension is palpable, as when talking with the father of a young girl photographed or with a social worker who reproaches him to spread a false image of Romania. And the point of view is also sometimes reversed, when a farmer from Rovina tells us about his idea of Belgium.
This is finally, far beyond the photographs themselves, what is interesting with this book. Tomas does not hide anything and sometimes the doubts and questions of his hosts seem legitimate! All these pictures are images of everyday life, images that appear to us « without qualities » (in the sense of the book of Robert Musil) and which, therefore, become universal.
The book is in the form of three notebooks containing photographs and excerpts from his diary, accompanied by a reproduction of an anonymous photograph on glass plate that was offered to him.
The characteristic of photography, of all times, was to record the real, in order to preserve a trace or a memory. It has long been considered that a photograph can not lie, that it was essentially objective. Nevertheless, the most known examples of manipulation of images will appear during the XXth century, in the Soviet Union, especially in the political field when Stalin was erasing all of his opponents from photos and thus from history, one after another. So the picture is authentic ! If we are on the photo, then the moment has existed, at least for us. If we are not on it, it is because the moment did not exist!
Based on these considerations, Natalya Reznik became interested in her family history. In the XXth century, and particularly, in the Soviet Union, the family photo album was a central element of the family memory. A book that used to tell the family saga, the history of the parents, the grandparents … It was the opportunity to find similarities, to understand links. But Natalya never knew her father. An absent military father, who, when she was three-year-old, disapeared from her mother’s life and divorced. He left, above all, to her mother, the feeling of a betrayal that she would never forgive. She will refuse to talk to Natalya about her father and will even remove every pictures from him. Like many teenagers and young women, her mother, to overcome her disappointment, will fill the blanks, with dreams of cinematic loves with European movie stars of the moment : Jean Marais, Alain Delon, Jean-Paul Belmondo or Marcello Mastroianni!
But if the mourning overcomes the death of a loved one, it is quite different for the absent. How to be oneself without knowing where you come from, without knowing those little things that characterize us all. With this book, Natalya began the search of her father. Starting from family photographs, she will rework the photographs by incorporating the figure of this idealized father through the cinema of the 60s and 70s. Daily scenes which sometimes include Delon, or Belmondo. A strange impression emerges from the images. The cinematographic dimension is very strong, as the images of the actors that she uses have become, through time, icons (thinking about it, icons are another aspect that brings us back to Russia!). An impression of déjà vu which remains disturbed by the context of the daily scenes of the Soviet Union. This imaginary world reconciles East and West and represents all the aspirations of people that come out of years of struggles and wars.
With this work, it is a cathartic process that initiates Natalya. From photographs extracted from her mother’s album, she patiently (re)builds her past, between dream and reality, but above all, from her own memories, reversing the process that it is no longer here photographs that tell the story, but the story that determines the photgraphs. Photography is no longer a source of memory but becomes the representation of memory! This representation takes all its strength when Natalya uses the only bexisting photographs of her father, a series from a photobooth where he posed with her mother. In these photographs, we do not recognize him, he wears sunglasses that hide his eyes, large aviator sunglasses, in vogue during those years, which were supposed to confer a certain charm. She then reworked some of these images and intertwined them with the originals, making it more tangible and recognizable those surrogate fathers who look at us in the eyes, rather than that unknown man hidden behind his smoked glasses. The book ends with two sea views, the first, sunny and calm with birds, seems to send us back in the south around Sochi area, where it all started, during a resort affair. The second shows us a sea caught in the ice, and evokes the northernmost seas, where his father worked and how the story found an end; metaphor of an antagonism of two incompatible worlds despite of appearances.
The book is very elegant and the artistic experience really interesting, but beyond these considerations, this book also addresses a very serious subject that is the need for identification with parents (for me without considerations of gender, according to the current debates in our modern societies), but also the idealization of parents during childhood. Finally, the generosity of this work gives me the feeling, even if I have never met her, to know a little better Natalya!
96 pages, 13×21 cm, 200 numbered and signed copies, self-published.
Digital print, thread stitched binding, hardcover. Text by Victoria Musvik.
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…
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/
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.
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/
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
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).
Some goodies amongst recent publications:
Filling the gaps, by Tamas Bernath
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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/