First of all, let me be clear, this is not a best of list of 2018 ! If you want to know the best books published this year, you can refer to the very well done compilation by Viory Schellekens caled the meta list. Here is the link : https://www.facebook.com/Viory.Schellekens/photos/a.1894706323931695/1907864862615841/?type=3&theater
I have to confess that all those lists are no surprise, Raymond Meeks, Mark Steinmetz, Matthew Genitempo, Carmen Winant, Laia Abril and you can go on… of course they are the best books of 2018. Just consider the meta list and you’ll get the best books published this year (236 list makers…), nothing else to say. So I was wondering, what is the point to post another list. For the last few years, I did what I called a “los olvidados” list (yep that’s a reference to Bunuel), but this year, it is not a forgotten list, but rather a question : why those books have not been mentionned so far. I only choose books which not appear in the meta list (two mention to appear), so if Viory includes my list, maybe some will appear and gain a rank…
Let’s start with no order neither priority and I wish you all a happy new year full of great discoveries in 2019 :
Race with the devil by Yan Morvan, published by Serious publishing
Yan Morvan spent years with motobike gangs, even putting his life in danger, this work is unbelievable for me in consideration of immersion to get good photos. Ans he remains not that known worldwide. I also though about another great book from Yan published this year : Bobby Sands with André Frère.
Le fleuve Somme by Thibaut Cuisset published by Diaphane Editions
Still don’t understand why this wonderful photographer remains unknown. The slow melancholy of his landscapes deserves a wider eccho, maybe if Steidl finally publishes his “French Landscapes” next year !
Looking at the overlooked by John Myers, published by RRB Photobooks
Probabaly one of my actual favorite photographer. For those who know my work you may understand why. And finally a great book (with his previous one “Portraits”) which gives justice to his work. Well technically, this one is supposed to be published in 1019, but I already received it, so…
America revised by Gerry Johansson, published by Only Photography
Gerry is one of my absolute favorite photographer and his book American winter has already been mentionned profusely, but… If American winter is another great book, it is just another one in his series of cities books. This one brings in light his very marginal color work which is gorgeous, but also a larger size printed view of his photographs in the size of his original prints, and everything perfectly done as Roland Angst knows to do.
Fifty High Seasons by Shane Lynam, selfpublished
A wonderful testimony of what has become one of the most incredible touristic and land planning experience of the XXth century. Planification to create from nothing one of the biggest French touristic area. A gret discovery for me, including what was called the Mission Racine planned by the DATAR.
Fables of Faubus by Paul Reas, published by Ghost books
We all know Martin Parr’s work, but Paul Reas has been long ago working on the same topics, and finally a book which gave him justice : a dive through the English society with reality, humor, sadness and colorful…
Stone Kingdom by Christopher de Bethune, published by Le Mulet
I am a total fan of Christopher’s work. There is so much poetry in the way he looks at things. You just need to hold one of his book in your hands to be converted… Unfortunately only 60 copies.
Touch, Rites of Mirrow Hidden Gravity by Sergej Vutuc, selfpublished
Time after time Sergej still surprises me with new experiments and renewal. He turns reality into abstractions and kind of mental images of the world that surrounds us. Handmade books after books they are more and more fantastic ! 100 copies only.
Robert F. Kennedy Funeral Train – The People’s View by Rein Jelle Terpstra, published bu Fw:Books
I have always loved Paul Fusco’s idea of taking pictures from the funeral train of Bobby Kennedy showing America in 1968. Rein jelle Terpstra investigates the way that was followed by the train to find pictures made by people standing by the passing of the train. Some brilliant reverse shots which complete the original story and tell a lot about the moment.
Orbit by Renato D’Agostin, published by IKKI
IKKI edtions initiated a few years ago a collaboration between photographers and musicians. Every book is a journey of the photographer to accompany a specifical music, this one comes with a composition by Scott Worthington. You can turn the page listening to the music, or vice versa. So far two sets of three books and records have been published.
Yuka and the forest by Lena C. Emery, published by APE
A slow meditation about a girl and a forest, beautifully printed and a touching story if you make yourself available to it.
La Zone, published by gallery Lumière des Roses
A catalog of an exhibition held in Montreuil at gallery “Lumières des roses” with numerous photos of the former suburbs of Paris. A piece of history about contemporary urbanisation of cities.
Many great books have already been listed this year. This list is not a “best of” but just a few recommendations for books I consider very interesting and that deserve some attention.
Only the sky remains untouched, by Claire Felicie. With this book, Claire keep on investigating the psychical damages of war on soldiers, as the subtitle of the book says « The invisible wounds of war. With, as usual, a superb design by Sybren Kuiper which, metaphorically, shows the broken bodies of former soldiers when they’re back from the theater of war. I could say more, but you’d better take a look by your own.
Habiter Berlin 1900 – 1920. At the beginning of XXth Century, the General health insurance fund in Berlin and in the neighborhood, commissionned Heinrich Lichte studio to realise photographs to show the conditions of insalubrity of some appartments in Berlin. The booklets were published once a year or every two years as “Unsere Wohnungs-Enquête”, a survey of housing in Berlin. 175 photographs are compiled here, under the direction of Philippe Bonin, architect and anthropologist, and Margaret Manale, historian, published by Creaphis éditions. Maybe my favorite book this year !
Cista zona, by Sergej Vutuc. Eastern Europe seen through the eyes of Sergej, with an invisible drama outcropping from his beautiful aesthetic photographs. A fantastic discovery this year !
Land, by Laura Van Severen. When quarries and larger stone exploitations become some incredible sophisticated abstract oraganisations. I really love those beautiful photos and I had a great pleasure of a little chat with Laura at Polycopies. Another great discovery this year.
Los amorosas las bravas, by Bénédicte Desrus and Celia Gómez Ramos. A fantastic series on Las mujeres de la Casa Xochiquetzal, a place in Mexico for retired prositutes. The profits from the book selling will help to fund the place. Unfortunately, this book is hard to find, because it did not really reached Europe before it was sold out.
Tada, by Algis Griskevidicius. This book compiles photographs taken between 1985 and 1995 (last decade of comunism era in Lithuania) as material for paintings. It becomes a great testimonial of a decaying country with, out of time Soviet architecture and landscapes.
Forthright, stronger than a weapon, by Sascha Klaus. This could also be the heaviest book of the year. A strong compilation of rap singers from what we call the Third World. This is a fantastic discovery of all those people who fight day after day against totalitarian regime. This remind us that the world is going wrong and that there are lots of things to do and to fight for ! A new form of protest book.
I wish to see where the winds meet, by Christian Bragg. The book as an object. You can turn the pages of this book with a specific sequencing, and by turning the pages, you understand that there are fold outs which could be unfold. You open the eyelets and then discover posters and leporellos which tell a new story. Create your own poetry by unfolding your book !
Glasgow, by Raymond Depardon. Let’s give a break with Depardon bashing. I was a fan of his early work, like San Clemente and Correspondance New Yorkaise. So it was with great pleasure that I discover this early unknown work he did in Glasgow in 1980 for the Sunday Times Magazine. Thanks to Editions du Seuil for this book.
The last son, by Jim Goldberg. With this new book, Jim Goldberg turns his narative process to examine his own growth through his relation to his father, and how his origins have influenced his work. Published by Super Labo as the second part of a personal story in three books.
And I just want to end with two promising photographers and books they did for they’re graduation. They both self published their graduation work in a limited edition of more or less 30 copies. You should keep an eye on both of them.
David’s House, by Alex Ingram. You know this part of Wales, at the end of the world which is called St David, that’s the place where Alex is from and he went back to the place to document it. This is just the sensitive way I like in a photo work.
Belfast, by Aäron Maes. A Belgian photographer focused on the troubles in Northern Ireland as subject of his Master degree. I have a particularly tenderness for Ireland and I like how Aäron immersed himself to try to understand what « Troubles » mean.
You can find the compilation of the 2016 lists here : http://photolia.tumblr.com/post/153778783632/photobooks-2016
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!
« 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.
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/