Three new photobooks

I purchased three photo books at the Paris Photo fair. Not for reasons of subject matter, but because of their design – anticipating that they would be helpful when deciding on the structure /edit of my dummy photo book.

  1. Lighting Store – A-Chan.

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This soft-backed book measures 10×7 inches, has a black sugar-paper type cover, has 12 double pages and is hand bound. It has 3 holes for the stitching. My copy is number 190 of 700. It cost 12Euros. All the images are black and white, printed on off-white fairly thick paper. It feels rough to the touch. Each image has a white border.

Inside the first page, as the final part of the front matter is a short poem about cleaning chandeliers and other lights in a store. It is written by A-Chan and serves as an introduction to the photographs. Some are close up detail whilst others have a longer focal length. The images illustrate the short poem.

The simplicity of this book is appealing and is reflected in its price. I could make a dummy book like this.

2. 10 days in Kraków – Yuanyuan Yang.

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I fell in love with this book as soon as I opened it. The dimensions are 18 x 26 cm. It is a hardback and has 168 pages. My copy is number 249/500, each copy is signed.  The first four pages are the front matter with a short text introduction and two photographs. Then comes the title page, then a quote from T.S. Eliot.

This book is beautiful, with a mix of single images, double spreads, inserts, pockets, and found photography. It has all the elements that I tried to use in my ‘Terry’ project in the previous module (apart from the subject matter of course). It’s appeal is in its intrigue and its tactile nature. In places it looks like a dummy photo book, as if there are actual photographs stuck in – but this is a clever illusion. I definitely am drawn again into creating another dummy book with inserts and fold outs, but won’t be able to manage the hardback and sharp edit without a designer.

I was happy to pay 40Euros for it at the Paris Book Fair, but not sure that otherwise I would have paid that price elsewhere.

I found a vimeo recording of the book online – the link is below. (Details are in the References Page of this blog).

10 days in Kraków video link

3.  Eden – Bernadita Morello

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The largest of the three, this book measures 13×8 inches. The vendor sold it to me for 20 Euros because it was the last one and wasn’t bound.  There is no text on the front, and the title is difficult to spot as it’s printed inside the  fold-out which is the first and last page. The vendor couldn’t remember who the photographer was, I eventually found the print on the last page in small text which did not stand out from the deep red paper. However, he did tell me that the book had won a dummy book award, and its publication was the prize. On the last page is the explanation – this work won the Fiebre photobook 2015 dummy award.

The appeal of this book, for me, is in the full-bleed images, and the way the edge of the paper is not a boundary for the print – the images continue onto the following page, as if they overlap and merge into one another.  Some of the images are not full bleed, and there are blank pages too.  The full bleeds form the middle part of the book, with smaller images in the first and last sections.  it is visually attractive.  Although the front page in its size and colour are reminiscent of a scrap book, the insides do not have that same feel due to the high quality of the paper and colourful images.

Portfolio review in Paris

Being my first portfolio review I was not sure what to expect, and there were mixed messages about how many people we would be presenting to (ie, our tutors, or our tutors and other students). The tutors present hadn’t seen my current work as far as I was aware so I had no idea of what they would make of it. Consequently I was a little nervous when it came to my turn.

It was noted that I was finding the gaps in the found album that is the source of my project; and acknowledgment that it is a mixture of fiction and reality. One comment was that the contemporary reenactment didn’t work so well, and I have also since written a post about these self – portraits and why I still hope to include them. (link here) Also to note is that they are not in fact reenactments but fictional inserts, filling the gaps where photographs had been removed.

A fellow student suggested I use sepia tones in some of these images; I chose not to follow this though feeling that this might prove too cliched, however I did convert them to black and white as this works well with the original photographs.

The photographs I showed of the ripped album pages received the most positive feedback from tutors and students alike. Since my review I have continued to work on these, including some re-shoots, layering and resizing ready for prints to be used in my dummy book.

It was suggested that I look at the following practitioner’s work:

  • Zoe Leonard (see recent post) (link here)
  • ‘Ken. To be destroyed’ by Sara Davidmann (to follow)
  • Eva Stenram ‘Drape’. I am familiar with this work and will revisit it
  • Broomberg & Chanarin – violence inflicted on photos and albums (to follow)

    As I was packing away, one tutor remarked about some of my previous work (multi-layered with mirrors and camera interiors as props); commenting that this had been successful. The work in question had in fact been the most enjoyable to create but I had stopped on advice from other tutors – not because it wasn’t successful, but because it lacked depth, and didn’t ‘grab’ . Naturally this comment has given me much to think about, and as my transition to the Final Major Project gets ever closer decisions on which creative route to pursue become more difficult! If time allows before submission of this module I may use mirrors to photograph some of the page rips.

Erez Israeli – Sailors (Tribute to Querelle), 2018. Paris Photo Fair

This work is of significance to my current practice. In the previous module my dummy photo book included pieces of memorabilia, in reference to old family photo albums where objects other than photographs were also saved. For my current project I am continuing with this idea, and sourced a WW1 medal amongst other things which I have photographed to include. In my case, these objects refer indirectly to photographic references (Wood, 1919, RAF for instance, led to the purchase of a RAF medal awarded to WS Wood at around the same time). Other memorabilia I intend to include are RAF buttons, wedding cake decorations, and dice.

Israeli’s work has many individual photographs as well as framed objects that presumably belonged to the sailors in the images. One of these is a gold locket with a head and shoulder shot of a young man in it. On a personal level I found these personal objects more narrative in style and worthy of my prolonged attention than the old photographs did. My reasoning for this is because each one is unique, and is a signifier; whereas I have seen a great deal of old photographs, and most of these serve the purpose of recording a face, a uniform, a historical record.

Vivian Maier – The Color work at Paris Photo Fair

This body of work captures the street life of Chicago and New York between the 1950s and the 1980s, and includes a number of self-portraits. There is a book by the same name. Taking a closer look at this work is on my to-do list, as the abstraction with the human action working alongside each other is an interesting concept; but more importantly for me is the occasional self portrait amongst the rest. Currently in my work in progress I am considering (hoping) to include two self portraits.

Joan Fontcuberta – Gastropoda at the Paris Photo Fair

Gastropoda refers to iconic decomposition: the process of irreversible decay turns images into echoes of themselves which, as a result, reveal the aesthetics of horror and destruction….The project also emphasizes the shift of the image as pure representation towards becoming an object, – Joan Fontcuberta. See reference page for details.

Photographs which show some kind of ‘irritation’ catch my eye, whether the source is natural or forced. Damage inflicted on the page is very much part of my work in progress as I examine the man made rips and tears on the album pages, and I begin to inflict it on some of the remaining photographs.

Noé Sandas – Walking and Remembering – Paris Photo Fair

There were two reasons why the work of Sandas caught my eye at the Paris Photo Fair. Firstly, the subject matter – the images he refers to as ‘Antique Art’ interest me because of the connection with the found photography I use. The juxtaposition of two images with a snippet of text intrigued me, making me question what the connection between them is. In the example here, there is a page of a book and a photograph or postcard. Visually I found them pleasing, with lines, shapes and textures going from one to the other. Other than that I noticed no connection. The other eye catching element to this work was its method of display. The images were sandwiched between two plates of glass and held in situ by objects not usually associated with works of art, such as an old tool vice.  The presentation allowed the viewer to walk around the work, seeing it from both sides. Other visitors were visible through the glass, thereby seeming to make them an integral yet changing part of the installation.

Post updated 18/11/18

“Sendas purpose is to awaken memories which are not yours, which are older than you, to restore connexions and renew relationships which lie in the distant past.” Taken from

https://www.artrabbit.com/events/no%C3%A9-sendas-walking-remembering