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The Photobook: A History volume 111 Martin Parr and Gerry Badger





1 Progress Reports The Propaganda Photobook Again


2 Documents of Anger and Sadness Protest and the Photobook 52 3 Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll Desire and the Postwar Photobook 4 Monuments to our Moment Modern Life and the Photobook 5 From There to Here The Photobook and Place




6 Killing Fields Conflict and the Photobook 7 Looking at Ourselves The Photobook and Identity 8 Momenti Mori The Photobook and Memory




9 Cannibalizing Photography Representing and Re-presenting the Medium Notes


Select Bibliography Index




Progress Reports: The Propaganda Photobook Again

The Photobook: A History volume 11i

1 Progress Reports The Propaganda Photobook Again

Despite the often illusory nature of essays on the psychology of a nation, it seems to me that there is something revealing in the insistence with which a people will question itself during certain periods of growth. To become aware of our history is to become aware of our singularity. It is a moment of reflective repose before we devote ourselves to action again. Octavio Paz 1

Anonymous Youth Accuses Imperialism Moscow, 1973 A passionate polemic in words and images published in Moscow to commemorate the 16th Young Communist League, held in East Berlin, Youth Accuses Imperialism was an illustrated manifesto designed to recruit the youth of the world to fight against capitalist imperialism.

We begin Volume III with another look at a somewhat disregarded, but important genre of photobook – the propaganda book – one of several kinds of photographic publications that utilize our mystical belief in the truth of photography, and therefore in its ability to persuade. In Volume I, we concentrated primarily on the great propaganda books of the 1930s, especially from the Soviet Union. They not only took the idea and practice of propaganda as a sophisticated, insidious means of persuasion – indeed brainwashing – to a new level, but they also expanded the whole concept of the modernist photobook through their complex integration of photographs, text, graphics and typography. That period, between the two world wars, was a highpoint for the propaganda book, and yet, in terms of the number of volumes produced and their distribution, it could be argued that the period of the Cold War, from the end of World War II to the late 1980s, marks the real heyday of the propaganda book. The flamboyant, luxurious Soviet and Fascist propaganda books, with their attention to high production values, were in effect glorified company reports. Indeed, we will consider the genre of the company report itself as propaganda in due course. Produced primarily for an elite readership that was already ‘on board’, as it were, most of the 1930s books we considered in Volume I were preaching to the converted. During the Cold War, however, the propaganda war ‘hotted up’. The world had divided into two opposing camps, and the enmity was implacable. In a sense, as Bertholdt Brecht pointed out in his book War Primer, once the distraction of World War II was out of the way, the ‘real’ war – which was between Capitalism and Communism, between the United States and the Soviet Union – could

Progress Reports: The Propaganda Photobook Again

The Photobook: A History volume 11i

Heinrich Hoffmann, ed.

As charities do today, small gifts were frequently

ganda, namely the triumphs of the Blitzkrieg and cha-


given out to donors, among which was this series of

(Winter Relief Fund Booklets)

miniature propaganda books, published by Heinrich

The books were also designed to be hung from

Hoffmann, Hitler’s official photographer and approved

Christmas trees as decorations, and to be given as

The Winterhilfswerk (Winter Relief Fund) was an annual

publisher. They were essentially receipts to show one

‘stocking-filler’ presents, to adults certainly, but also to

fund-raising drive by the Nazis – its slogan ‘none shall

had donated, and with the attached string could be

children. In totalitarian states like Nazi Germany, where

starve or freeze’ – to get Germany through the winter

worn on the lapel to make it absolutely clear.7 Twenty-

the leader is regarded as the ‘Father’ of the nation, the

months from October to March. It ran from 1933 to 1945,

eight of these volumes, about the size of a large post-

propaganda machine’s ultimate aim is to capture the

and was designed to provide food, fuel and other items

age stamp, were published, with such titles as The

children, to indoctrinate them early and thus per-

for poorer citizens. There was much pressure to donate

Führer and Mussolini, The Führer and the Young, The

petuate the state ideology.

to the Fund, and Party workers, shall we say, had ‘ways’

War in the East (five volumes) and The Führer and his

of making people donate.

Homeland. They cover the usual theme of Nazi propa-

Heinrich Hoffmann, ed. W  interhilfswerk-Heftchen (Winter Relief Fund Booklets) Bild Dokumente Heinrich Hoffmann, Munich, 1940s Der Führer macht Geschichte (The Führer Makes History), each booklet 49 mm × 37 mm (112 × 114 in) 36pp (28 booklets) Paperbacks with string ties c. 17 b&w photographs per booklet

risma of the Leader, in perfect miniature.

Sex, Drugs and Rock ’n’ Roll: Desire and the Postwar Photobook

The Photobook: A History volume 11i

Ed Templeton

Gasoline Stations, said Ed Ruscha’s cover (see Volume

ers smoke. Walker Evans said that he wanted his pho-

Ryan McGinley

Teenage Smokers

II, page 140), and that is exactly what you get inside.

tographs to be ‘literate, authoritative, transcendent’. 23

The kids are alright

Ed Templeton, born in 1985, is as well-known as a pro-

Templeton’s images are authoritative, but literal rather

An annoying recent advertisement on British television

fessional skateboarder and vegan activist as he is as an

than literary, and yet the book in its way is transcendent,

One of the most renowned photobooks of the new mil-

ended with the punchline, ‘It does what it says on the

artist and a guru for teenagers. His breakthrough book, a

taking photography to a new level of literalness.

lennium, The kids are alright exists in an edition of only

tin’. The phrase has been taken up by many people, in-

prototypical zine, is entitled Teenage Smokers, and that is

100 handmade copies. But it sets the agenda for the

cluding Prime Minister David Cameron, with regard to

what you get: photographs of teenagers smoking. There

digital and self-publishing revolution, an agenda that is

his coalition government. Photobook-makers are argu-

is even less artistic mediation than in Ruscha. These

personal: part diary, part memorial. Walker Evans said

ably more honest than governments in doing what they

images might have been taken in five minutes or in a year.

a primary aim of photography was a simple desire ‘to

say ‘on the tin’, or in their case, on the cover. Twentysix

You cannot tell anything from them, except that teenag-

recognise and to boast’, 25 and that is exactly what Ryan McGinley has done. In The kids are alright, he recognizes what is going with a generation, and proudly says ‘Here it is, deal with it’. In formal terms, McGinley’s imagery reflects the photographic style of the digital age. That is, these are truly snapshots, exalted snapshots perhaps, but not far removed from the imagery seen on Flickr or Facebook, whose aim, again, is to recognize and to boast. And like these new diaristic photographers on the internet, McGinley is not seeking a signature style, but a signature sensibility. He photographs his peers from the point of view of a peer. This is nothing startling nowadays, but before the 1950s this was done rather less than one might imagine, at least by young people. The casual sexuality and drug-taking already mentioned in the essay introducing this chapter is what marks this book out from, say, Joseph Szabo’s Almost Grown (see Chapter 7, page 208). Sex and the drugtaking, of course, were there in the 1970s, as we see from Larry Clark, but Szabo’s view is arguably a more representative one with which to make a comparison with McGinley. As McGinley shows, in Western society today, adolescent sex and drug-taking are so ‘out’ they have almost ceased to be an issue – except of course when things go wrong.

Ryan McGinley The kids are alright Self-published, New York, 2000 (limited signed and numbered edition of 100 copies) 195 × 125 mm (7 34 × 5 in), 40 pp Paperback 32 colour and 8 b&w photographs

Ed Templeton T  eenage Smokers Alleged Press, New York, 1999 (published in conjunction with the exhibition ‘The Golden Age of Neglect’, Alleged Gallery, December 1999) 215 × 178 mm (812 × 7 in), 32 pp Paperback 31 colour and 4 b&w photographs Layout, design and photographs by Ed Templeton

From There to Here: The Photobook and Place

The Photobook: A History volume 11i

Paul Graham A Shimmer of Possibility In twelve volumes, each published in its own coloured cloth jacket in a different American city ranging from New York and Boston to Camarro, Louisiana (and in a consolidated single paperback edition published in 2009), Paul Graham presents a number of photographic sequences that he has termed ‘filmic haikus’, ranging in length from a single image to sixty pages of images. As his inspiration, Graham cites the short stories of Anton Chekhov, those tales where hardly anything happens yet whose concentration upon the minutiae and textures of lived experience had such an influence, both in modern literature and art. For example, a weary man smokes a cigarette, another mows a grass verge, and a women with dyed red hair eats a hamburger. Graham photographs these nonincidents with a style that determinedly, almost stubbornly, avoids any rhetorical flourish, a mode that evokes random video-frame grabs or amateurs rather than a leading art photographer. The most overt information to be gleaned from this startling ordinariness is the social demographic of those pictured with such careful neutrality and inscrutability. They are from ‘the other side of the tracks’, those whom the American Dream has passed by, those ignored by more fortunate citizens. Graham has focused such unblinking yet respectful attention upon them so that we might do the same, and consider their lives. A Shimmer of Possibility, therefore, can be considered a political book, a protest book even, although it never declares itself as such in any overt way. In an artistic sense, it takes the photographed moment and redefines it more broadly for today’s vast democracy of imagery, in an era where one frame seems as good as another.

Paul Graham A  Shimmer of Possibility SteidlMACK, Göttingen, 2007 (limited edition of 1,000; single paperback volume, 2008, not shown, and limited signed and numbered edition of 25 copies) 315 × 240 mm (1212 × 9 12 in), 376 pp 12 hardback volumes, each with different coloured full-cloth cover Total 167 colour photographs across 12 volumes


Momenti Mori: The Photographic Book and Memory

The Photobook: A History volume 11i

Peng Yangjun and Chen Jiaojiao

photographs are not so much snapshots but the formal

or about those of their loved ones – and their stories

Box – Pass It On

portraits one has taken by commercial photographers.

are honest, by no means beds of roses, but tales of

Many of them are hand tinted, which gives them an old

success and disappointment, opportunities and difficul-

Box – Pass It On represents the photobooks as reliquary.

fashioned look, but some actually are old, the earliest

ties, hopes fulfilled and hopes dashed. What emerges

It is (literally) a box full of memories, a photobook look-

dating from the late 1930s.

strongly is that, no matter how ‘collective’ the society,

ing at vernacular photography that contains today’s

Many of the portraits are of young people in school

individuals measure their lives not by the great events,

fashionable inserted items: letters and labels, an airline

or Young Pioneer uniforms. There are wedding photo-

except where they impact directly, but in terms of their

boarding pass, a stamp. And it is also, for those who

graphs, graduation photographs and images of young

relationships with their loved ones.

can read the images, a history of China since just before

men in military uniform. They have a sameness despite

Box – Pass It On is not so much a photobook as a

World War II. Fortunately, the testimonies of those in

their individuality, the necessary condition of the genre,

memorial deposit, a historical artefact in which photo­

the pictures have been translated into accompanying

but when their stories are read they become alive as

graphy plays an important, but not the only, part.

English and French booklets, for the texts are possibly

people, and history becomes alive. The testimonies are

the book’s most fascinating aspect. The majority of the

very touching – people talking either about their lives

Peng Yangjun and Chen Jiaojiao P  ass It On Shang Xia Trading Ltd, Shangai, 2012 260 × 194 mm (1014 × 7 34 in) (box), 332 pp (hardback image book), with multiple gatefolds, tip-ins and inserts and text booklets Hardback in a box with hidden compartment containing ‘secrets’ – marbles, toy plane, ticket, etc. – with two threadbound paperback text booklets (each 52 pp, English and French translations) Numerous colour and b&w photographs and ephemera Text, conversation and captions by various authors; design by Yang Hao



Cannibalising Photography: Representing and Re-presenting the Medium

The Photobook: A History volume 11i

The idea of Bettie Kline is simple, at least on the

the story’s veracity might be entertained by a sceptic.

Cristina de Middel

surface. Prince reproduces Kline’s abstract pen-and-

We suspect, but do not know whether we are being

The Afronauts

ink drawings on one page, with photographs of Bettie

teased. Nevertheless, this is a wholly delightful book,

Of all the artist’s books and photobooks created by

opposite. Prince has paired images where Kline has re-

especially in the thought that abstract expressionism,

In 1964, Zambian schoolteacher Eduard Makuka Nkobso

Richard Prince, this has the most intriguing and unex-

sponded formally in a similar way to the photograph –

so often po-faced and pretentious, could be inspired by

decided to start a space programme designed to put the

pected ‘back story’, as it is termed these days. During

the tense lines produced by the tied-up Page responded

pornography. Of all Prince’s artists books, this is the one

first African on the moon. Unfortunately, the programme

the 1950s, the renowned photographer of S and M ‘girlie

to by Kline with dynamic swathes of brushed ink, the

that is ‘bound to please’.

was somewhat underfunded, and when one of the as-

pics’, Irving Klaw, had his studio at 212 East 14th Street

Chinese calligraphy that seemingly inspired the painter

tronauts, a teenage girl, became pregnant, the venture

in New York City. In the same building lived the equally

emanating from a different, and unexpected, source.

petered out.

Richard Prince Bettie Kline

renowned Abstract Exressionist painter Franz Kline.

This is a beautifully produced book, printed as a series

Cristina de Middel tells this politically awkward yet

Kline apparently used some of Klaw’s models for his

of images stuck to the page with sellotape. The text is re-

charming story in the layered way of many of today’s

figure studies, and was apparently especially smitten by

produced as a typed, found letter that tells the story. But

photobook makers, blending fact with fiction, combin-

the most renowned of the Klaw model roster, the incom-

there is a further twist to the tale. The juxtaposition of

ing her own photographs with manipulated vernacular

parable Bettie Page.

drawing with painting is so convincing that doubts about

imagery and simulated documents. All this is integrated into a beautifully designed, faux naif book, complete with translucent pages. Like Jason Fulford (see p. 294), De Middel seems closely acquainted with surreallism, which serves to make the book amusing but not in a mocking way. She manages to tread a fine line between capturing the heroic absurdity of the project, while subtly critiquing col­ onial attitudes that would tend towards the patronising, attitudes of which a fair residue remain in all our dealings with and our commentatry about African issues. Much has been written about the book’s design, but in a photobook era where production has taken precedence over picture-making values, The Afronauts is full of some extremely good pictures.

Richard Prince B ettie Kline Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2009 355 × 275 mm (14 × 10 34 in), 112 pp Hardback More than 100 colour and b&w photographs, and paintings and polaroids Photographs by Irving Klaw; artworks by Franz Kline

Cristina de Middel The Afronauts Self-published, Cádiz, 2012 232 × 172 mm (914 × 6 2 3 in), 76 pp Hardback with elastic band 42 colour and b&w photographs and illustrations, with one 4pp fold-out Texts/letters by various authors; afterword by Kojo Ngué; concept, design and editing by Cristina de Middel, Laia Abril and Ramon Pez; photographs and illustrations by Cristina de Middel



Cannibalising Photography: Representing and Re-presenting the Medium

The Photobook: A History volume 11i

Joachim Schmid O  ther Peoples’ Photographs Artists’ Book Cooperative (ABC), Berlin, and, 2008–12 (96 print-on-demand, numbered and signed volumes) Each book 180 × 180 mm (7 × 7 in), 36 pp; or 2-volume paperback, 400 pp each (not shown) Hardback with full black cloth and jacket 32 colour photographs per volume; 3,072 colour photographs across 96 books

Joachim Schmid

bouncing on hotel beds or photographing the feet of

imagery from thousands with a keen eye, incorporating

Other People’s Photographs

those standing around at drinks parties, among other

35 pictures into each book and charging the ‘reasonable

things, have supplemented such old favourites as hold-

price of a Euro a picture’, as he puts it. Furthermore,

Joachim Schmid’s ninety-six volume Other People’s

ing up the Leaning Tower of Pisa or aping the poses of

he wields the inestimable weapons of wit and irony to

Photo­graphs is an epic series of print-on-demand art-

public statuary. Posted on Flickr, some of these imag-

present one of the most notable collections of ‘found

ists’ books, a wide ranging yet not exhaustive lexicon

istic modes attain instant popularity for a short while,

photographs’ in the photographic literature, a collection

of contemporary snapshot modes, culled primarily from

while others display more longevity. A brief selection

of little artists’ books that is large in reach, and engaging,

the website

of the ninety-six titles throws up such categories as

sad, funny, disturbing, revealing and baffling by turns.

Photography imagery of every description is dissemi-

Real Estate, Currywurst, Buddies, Size Matters, Things,

nated on the Web, but the posters here are primarily

Various Accidents, Trophies, Hotel Rooms and Gathered

amateur and untrained. The principal aesthetic explored

Together. All human life is here.

is the photographic one of the digital compact and cell-

What all this tells us is that ‘there’s nowt as queer

phone camera, related to and derived from the aesthetic

as folk’, a conclusion that is predictable enough. But on

of the Brownie and Instamatic, yet not identical to it.

top of that there is a positive encyclopaedia of primitive

Ease of use and the zero cost involved in digital photog-

formal strategies to be borrowed by more sophisti-

raphy has produced new genres of snapshot imagery:

cated photographers. Joachim Schmid has selected the



The Photobook: A History volume 11i

Progress Reports: The Propaganda Photobook Again

The Photobook: A History KDAJB: >

The Photobook: A History KDAJB: >

Hitome Watanabe and Various Photographers

Ernest Withers

ing relatives in Mississippi, was tortured and murdered

might to serve to help our nation decide itself to seeing

Franco Ortolani

William Levy and Ginger Gordon (Anna Beeke)

(Students’ Power League of Tokyo)

Complete Photo Story of Till Murder Case

by white racists for allegedly wolf whistling at a white

that such incidents do not occur again.’

La festa del Parco Lambro

The Virgin Sperm Dancer :An Ecstatic Journey

Kaihoku ‘68 (Liberated Area ‘68)

Withers Photographers, Memphis, 1955

woman in a store. Two men, J. W. Milam and Roy Bry-

Mastrogiacomo – Images 70, Padua, 1978

Uitgeverij Bert Bakker, The Hague, 1972

ant, were brought to trial in a segregated courtroom, but

that they were guilty when there was no possibility of a

The story behind this book – no more than a small pam-

the case attracted much attention because gruesome

retrial. Withers would become a friend of Martin Luther

Japan University Students’ Power League, Tokyo, 1968

The two accused were acquitted, only to confess later

Introduction by Marisa Rusconi

phlet – is at least as fascinating as the volume itself. The

photographs of Till’s battered body had been published

king and documented the Civil Rights movement of the

When the magazine Naked Emperor organised the Sixth

Emmet Till murder case, and photographer Ernest With-

in Chicago. A Memphis photographer, Ernest Withers,

1960s, as well as the vibrant Memphis music scene and

Festival of the Proletariat Youth at the Parco Lambro

photographed the event and issued this small book,

the Negro Baseball League. He died in 2007, but in fur-

in Milan from June 26 to June 29, 1976, it was hardly

Northern European countries – Scandanavia, Germany,

priced at one dollar.

ther twist to the tale, evidence came to light in 2010 that

realised that this would turn out to be the Italian ‘Wood-

and Holland – were the most liberal in sexual matters,

in the Deep South. Fourteen years old George Till from Chicago, visit-

same for each and every one, that their grain and blur

suggested Withers had been an informant for the FBI

stock,’ an apogee in the history of Italian youth culture,

and the first to decriminalise pornography. In 1969, a

between 1968 and 1971.

and attended by more than 200,000. But this was in the

group of libertarian activists, including William Levy,

middle of the anni di piombo (the years of lead). If Wood-

Heathcote Williams, Germaine Greer, Willem de Ridder,

the Till murder case, but in the hope that this booklet

expressiveness exactly mirrors the Provoke magazine

stock was nominally all ‘peace and love’, Parco Lambro

Susan Janssen, and Lynne Tillman, founded Suck, the

aesthetic. Indeed, we have seen how the roughness of

was about ideological differences, as much political as

‘first European sex newspaper’, in Amsterdam.

Kazuo Kitai’s Resistance actually had an impact on Mori-

musical. The main (and the only international) attraction

The Virgin Sperm Dancer, by William Levy, is a special

yama and Nakahira. However, one should not make too

was the American Free Jazz trumpeter, Don Cherry, a

book issue of Suck. Designed by distinguished Dutch

much of this. The protest books produced by student

leading exponent of a style associated with the Civil

graphic designer, Anthon Beeke, and photographed by

amateurs exhibit the same qualities, though rather more

Rights movement.

photographer Anna Beeke under the pseudonym, Gin-

Unfortunately, the event was marred, firstly by discor-

unwittingly. Most demonstrations were nocturnal, and

ger Gordon, the book tells the story of a boy (Joop),

students with unsuitable cameras and rudimentary tech-

dant debate (almost as much debate as music), which

who is transformed into a girl (Joopie) for one day only,

nique just shot first and asked questions later, producing

led to riots and violence amongst a sizeable minority.

focussing upon her (naturally) erotic adventures in Am-

Franco Ortolani shows nothing of this, although Marisa


images that had all the flair, grain, and blur of the Provoke

Rusconi’s introductory text does. Ortolani stresses the

photographers. These two books were made at the height, not only of Japanese student revolt, but of student revolt world wide - 1968. The first records the occupation of Tokyo University in 1968, when a protest by medical students spread to all faculties and riot police stormed the student occupied Yasuda Hall. Most of the pictures were taken by a young woman photographer, Hitome Watanabe, an associate of Provoke, and are firmly in that expressive mode, although she went on to make very different photographs, in colour, and more of a National Geographic

At the height of the ‘sexual revolution’ of the 1960s,

ers’ publication in 1955, can be regarded as the launching point for the Civil Rights movement, an event that

In discussing Japanese protest books, we could say the

‘We are presenting this photo story, not in an attempt

Other Territories: The Worldwide Photobook

Text by William Levy. Photographs by Ginger Gordon,

The ‘10.21 To ha nanika’ Publishing Committee, Tokyo, 1969

to stir up racial animosities or to question the verdict in

design by Anthon Beeke

Various Unknown Photographers and Authors 10.21 To ha nanika (What is 10.21?)

opened many eyes to the situation of African-Americans

Other Territories: The Worldwide Photobook

Hitomi Watanabe (Student Power League of Tokyo) Kaihoku ’68 (Liberated Area ’68) Japan University Students’ Power League, Tokyo, 1968 (first edition) 182 × 128 mm (7 1/ 5 × 5 in), 92 pp Paperback c. 65 photographs

than Provoke mode.

This charmingly liberated fairy story is gleefully hard-

Woodstock aspect, especially the hundreds of young

core, the point of the exercise, after all. But in particular,

people dancing around naked. He also catches, perhaps

the factor that makes this a classic of 70s counterculture

unintentionally, an interesting social aspect, a perhaps

literature and the legacy of 60s ‘flower power’- where

suspiciously high number of men with cameras joining

sexual liberation was seen as the beginning of politi-


cal liberation – is the inspired graphic design of Anthon In the end, the festival is remembered with bitterness

Beeke. Exuberant, wacky, and excessive, Beeke’s de-

by the left. The anarchy (a supermarket was looted) had

sign was absolutely of its time, the kind of psychedeli-

given the police the excuse to wade in, and the main-

cally inspired graphics seen right across pop and youth

stream press the opportunity to condemn the ‘youth rev-

culture generally. The pornography is timeless, boring

olution.’ La Festa del Parco Lambro proved once again

unless you are doing it. The graphic design is absolutely

that a disunited left can often be its own worst enemy.

culture specific and all the better for that.

What is 10.21? is totally student - or more precisely, totally anonymous. It documents the great anti-Vietnam War demonstrations of October 21, 1968. But whether anonymous, whether amateur, 10.21 contains some extraordinarily powerful photographs. The massed ranks of police and protestors brandishing shields and long staves, the burning vehicles, and above all, the shots from high buildings looking down upon masses of heaving people, are as good as anything in the protest photobook bibliography. If it seems invidious to talk about photographic qualities when people were hurt and arrested, but it is photographic qualities that make this book such a vivid and effective document, and such a valuable social and historical record.

Various Unknown Photographers and Authors 10.21 To ha nanika The ‘10.21 To ha nanika’ Publishing Committee, Tokyo, 1969 150 Ă— 208 mm (6 Ă— 8 in), 96 pp Paperback with photographic cover 72 b&w photographs Various photographers

Ernest Withers Complete Photo Story of Till Murder Case Withers Photographers, Memphis, 1955 222 × 132 mm (8ž × 5Ÿ in), 20 pp, Paperback 28 b&w photographs Text by Ernest Withers; photographs by Withers Photographers

Other Territories: The Worldwide Photobook

The Photobook: A History KDAJB: >

The Photobook: A History KDAJB: >

Suzanne Opton

Gian Butturini

Stephen Gill


Soldier/Many Wars



boy builders, and politicians are frequently referred to as

The result is a series of effervescent, often semi-

Chris Boot Ltd., London, 2010

Decode Books, Seattle, 2011

Editrice SAF, Verona, 1969

Nobody Books, London, 2012

‘pond life’, the metaphor would seem highly appropriate,

abstract photographs whose unifying element is water.

although that might be unfair to ponds.

And this seems entirely appropriate for these diffuse,

Tim Hetherington

life and human society. As estate agents, bankers, cow-

pond, so they became infused with the microscopic life.

‘Every man out there was nearly killed and every man

Suzanne Opton’s of haunting portraits of those who have

The image of ‘Swinging London’ was a media creation,

When Stephen Gill received a commission in Luxem-

The work is about how to bring two worlds together

watery portraits. It is water that sustains life on this plan-

out there had lost a friend.’ So writes Sebastian Junger in

seen too much, and been asked to do too much, consists

by not only British photographers but emigrĂŠs like the

bourg to photograph an industrial wasteland that was

that one vastly /different in scale yet make the images

et. It is water that sustains human beings, and above all,

the introduction to Tim Hetherington’s Infidel, one of the

of two bodies of work, presented back to back. Both

South African, Sam Haskins, and visitors like the Ger-

once a blast furnace in the town of Dudelange, his at-

best photobooks to emerge from the West’s war against

work together aesthetically. He did this by using a cam-

it is in water that the microscopic organisms developed,

eraon a microscope to photograph the miniscule pond

over tens of millions of years, into every higher form of

the Taliban in Afghanistan. Along with the award winning

ans. Soldiers features troops just back from their tours of

Dream (1962),1 was one of the first to depict the city in

childhood interest in pond life and microscopic worlds –

life, and shot the residents of Dudelange with an under-

life on earth.

film he and Junger made on the same subject, Restrepo,

groups of images consist of portraits of combat veterduty in either Iraq or Afghanistan (or both), while Many

man, Erwin Fieger, whose book London City of Any impressionistic colour. Above all, Michaelangelo Anton-

tention was drawn to a pond on the site. Inspired by a which has appeared in his work before – to make a book

water camera dipped in a bucket of water from the pond,

Infidel is a fitting memorial to one of the best and most

Wars shows veterans of veterans from other conflicts –

ioni’s 1966 film, Blow Up, fired the imagination of aspir-

about worlds within worlds and parallels between pond

Later, he took the portrait prints and dipped them in the

thoughtful of contemporary conflict photographers. Het-

going back to the Second World War – who suffer from

ing British photographers. Gian Butterini’s London (1969

herington was killed covering the Libyan uprising in April

post-traumatic stress disorder.

is another Italian view of London, but presents some-

2010. Infidel documents a year in the life of a single U.S.

thing of an anti-Swinging London viewpoint, although

For Soldiers, Opton asked each of her subjects to

not entirely so.

lay their head down on a table, and this is all she photo-

platoon serving in the Korengal Valley, considered one

graphed, these large, almost disembodied faces. Some

Butterini was working in advertising when he came

of Afghanistan’s most dangerous postings, where the

shut their eyes, some seemed quite serene, some were

to London and started photographing, but the London

grunts and the Taliban were often no more than a few

totally blank. But all seemed oblivious of the camera, and

he perceived was not the London of myth. He found the

hundred metres apart. The book contains some low key

lost in their thoughts and memories, which, whatever

city, as he writes in the book’s introduction, to be ‘an

and deliberately ambiguous photographs of the combat,

they were, we imagine were disturbing and troubled

amusement park of sequins, bad taste, visual clamour,

but essentially it is an intimate portrait of the soldiers in-


volved, in the tradition of David Douglas in Korea or Don

and sales pitch.’2 So his London depicts the poor and the working class who failed to make good in the ‘60s,

A similar strategy was employed for the vets with

McCullin in Vietnam. Like Hetherington, we are embed-

combat trauma. Opton gave each of them a piece of

like the young drug addicts hanging around Victoria Sta-

ded with the troops, who are named and have their in-

cloth, rather like a soldier’s blanket, and asked them to

tion, contrasting that with the tourist. It is more like Don

dividual stories told, while the Taliban remain an unseen

do what they liked with it. Few of them used it like a

enemy, borne a grudging respect by their foes.

cloak, rather they gathered it around themselves, like a

Always the soldiers’ viewpoint is considered, with the mundane details of their surroundings forensically and faithfully recorded. It is a book about camaraderie and

Ricardo Cases Paloma al aire (Dove into the Air) Photovision, Madrid, Schaden, Cologne, and Dewi Lewis Publishing, Stockport, 2011 215 Ă— 155 mm (8Âź Ă— 6Âź in), 74 pp. Hardcover, with photographically illustrated stiff card, spiral bound 46 colour photographs

William Levy and Ginger Gordon The Virgin Sperm Dancer Bert Bakker, Amsterdam, 1972 (second printing 1978, Bavaria) 378 x 272 mm (15 x 10ž in), 72 pp Paperback More than 250 b&w photographs Text by William Levy; photographs by Ginger Gordon; design by Anthon Beeke

Franco Ortolani La festa del Parco Lambro Mastrogiacomo – Images 70, Padua, 1978 222 x 222 mm (8ž x 8ž in), 96 pp Paperback More than 70 b&w and monochrome photographs Introduction by Marisa Rusconi

sic, elegant design that belies some of the interior shots,

The problem with photographing something like psy-

vulnerability as well as belligerence and bravery. The last

chological trauma is that it is not visible. Of course, we may think that it shows in the face, but does it? Certainly,

ing like little boys, or ‘the way their mothers probably

it is the photographer’s job to reveal it, or symbolise it

remember them’, as Hetherington put it.

somehow. By means of a little subterfuge, distracting

Infidel is a thoroughly postmodern war book, tough

Butterini’s gritty, grainy photographs, however, are set in a very ‘60s package. The striking cover is a clas-

ingly childlike and vulnerable.

sequence consists of portraits of the men asleep, look-

and tender by turns, emphasising the boredom and rou-

McCullin than David Bailey, who were associated with Blow Up, McCullin directly so.

child’s favourite blanket, and in doing so become touch-

and the bold, full-page bleeds are testimony to the con-

Ricardo Cases Paloma al aire (Dove into the Air) Photovision, Madrid, Schaden, Cologne, and Dewi Lewis Publishing, Stockport, 2011 215 Ă— 155 mm (8Âź Ă— 6Âź in), 74 pp. Hardcover, with photographically illustrated stiff card, spiral bound 46 colour photographs

her subjects from the camera, Suzanne Opton does it superbly.

tinuing influence, over ten years later, of William Klein’s New York.3 Occasionally, Butterini labours the social contrast, but in all, this is the book McCullin might have made about London, but unfortunately never did.

tine over the adrenalin rushes, the love as much as the hate, the truth as well as the fiction.

Ricardo Cases Paloma al aire (Dove into the Air) Photovision, Madrid, Schaden, Cologne, and Dewi Lewis Publishing, Stockport, 2011 215 Ă— 155 mm (8Âź Ă— 6Âź in), 74 pp. Hardcover, with photographically illustrated stiff card, spiral bound 46 colour photographs

Geert van Kesteren, ed.

that their friends who remained in Iraq were emailing

Baghdad Calling: Reports from Turkey, Syria, Jor-

them countless photographs from the ‘front line.’ So,

dan and Iraq

taking this fascinating material, Van Kesteren compiled a

Episode Publishers, Amsterdam, 2008

comprehensive picture of the situation in Baghdad as an editor-author rather than a photographer-author, printing

This is possibly the first - and certainly one of the best

on newsprint to emphasise its here-and-now nature.

an excuse to have a party. A young man stands proudly in front of his red sports car, and from the palm trees and villas behind him, we might fancy he is in Malibu or Bondi rather than war ravaged Baghdad.

– conflict books made by ‘citizen reporters’ and their mo-

The overall picture is the editor’s, but any picture of

subvert the usual clichĂŠs of conflict photography, and

bile phone photo-technology. After Geert van Kesteren

any conflict is subjective - and a fiction - and the breadth

make Bhagdad Calling an imaginative and apt successor

made his book on the Iraq invasion, Why Mister Why?1,

of the material demanded a flexible response on the

to Why Mister Why?, emphasising that most people just

he wanted to document the aftermath but was told that

part of Van Kesteren. There are car bombs and severed

try to lead normal and relatively uneventful lives, even in abnormal and stressful situations.

it was too dangerous to photograph with impunity be-

heads, fear and madness, but also an insistent subtext

cause the situation in city had descended into chaotic

of tired people just longing for peace and normality. A

violence. But whilst photographing Iraqi refugees in Jor-

Muslim family celebrates Christmas, not out of ideologi-

dan and other Middle Eastern countries, he discovered

cal conviction, but because -touchingly - they welcome

Ricardo Cases Paloma al aire (Dove into the Air) Photovision, Madrid, Schaden, Cologne, and Dewi Lewis Publishing, Stockport, 2011 215 Ă— 155 mm (8Âź Ă— 6Âź in), 74 pp. Hardcover, with photographically illustrated stiff card, spiral bound 46 colour photographs

Progress Reports: The Propaganda Photobook Again

The Photobook: A History KDAJB: >

The Photobook: A History KDAJB: >

Luc Chessex

Jacob Aue Sobol,

Le Visage de la RĂŠvolution


(The Face of the Revolution)

Politikens Forlag A/S, Copenhagen, 2004

Lutz, Zurich, 1969 Sabine came about when the young Danish photogra-

Many photobooks take us into enclosed, arcane little worlds, but few do it with the verve of Ricardo Cases’

there to make more, and fell in love with an Inuit girl,

Paloma al aire. The world he depicts is the singular va-

Sabine. Suddenly, a project by an ‘outsider’ was turned

riety of pigeon racing, or ‘fancying’ practiced in Murcia

towards a gradual exploration of Greenlander identity by

and Valencia. It seems a particularly Spanish variant of

Luc Chessex is a superb Swiss photojournalist, very

someone learning to be an ‘insider’, learning to be hunter

the sport, where male birds, brightly painted by their

much in the ‘concerned photographer’ mould, who sup-

and kill animals, and identify completely with their way

owners, are released to chase after a single female. The

ported the Fidel Castro Cuban Revolution in the most

of life. And then it is further complicated by the story of

winner – the bird who spends longest with the female

practical way possible – by joining it. In 1961, he based

the love affair, which lends the book both its haunting

– gets his desire, while his owner gets a trophy, in a

himself in Cuba, working for the Cuban Ministry of Edu-

layers of nuancing and its captivating, almost intoxicat-

pastime that is eminently macho, although some might

cation as the first official photographer of the revolution,

ing quality.

regard it as a classically displaced activity in the Freud-

and then for the news agency, Prensa Latina, travelling

The difference between the outsider’s and insider’s

around Latin America to make pictures. The Face of the

view is set up by the contrast between exterior views

Paloma does what many photobooks attempt, but

Revolution, published in Switzerland in 1969, consists

of the island and the interiors of the Inuit settlement. On

Phillip Blenkinsop,

Blenkinsop is unflinching in his gaze upon the havoc that sheer speed, a fatalistic outlook, and illegal rac-

White Lotus, Bangkok, 1996

which few achieve so completely. The book is a near

the one hand, the wide, harsh Arctic landscape, and dif-

flawless integration of fine picturemaking with appropri-

ficult way of life – seal hunting. On the other, the warm,

ate bookcraft. As an object, with its stiff card covers,

more a photographer is drawn to the revolutionary poster

claustrophobic interiors, where the focus is upon Sabine

spiral binding, and graphic excellence for the sport, an

and slogan, plastered, it seems on every spare wall. The

herself, and the book becomes not just about their rela-

activity almost surreal in its pointlessness, yet no more

faces in question, of course, are primarily those of Fidel

tionship but that of the photographer and his model

agencies paid to sweep up the mess, apparently indifferent or at best resigned. In one memorable image,

at the beginning of The Cars That Ate Bangkok, and it

a severed hand clings to a car bonnet like a discarded

is this phenomenon, with which Thai drivers apparently


mands of being a Magnum photographer rather than a

the aficionados, and to celebrate the painted iridescence

seal hunter. But Sabine is a classic example of the con-

of the birds themselves.

1982 monograph, When There is No More Eldorado.

temporary documentary approach, where the objective

book. Intrigued by an article that there were two rival

a multi-media rap, with journal texts, newspaper cuttings, decorated pages, and touches of black humour.

crashes, Blenkinsop journeyed to the Thai capital, made

The whole, indeed, looks like a cross between Gaylord

contact with one of the firms, and made this unsettling

Oscar Herron and Bill Burke, a treatment one could

It is not an uplifting book, though it might be considered a timely warning not to drive in Bangkok.

is inseparable from the subjective, and the photographer

porary manner). Each double-page spread seems con-

just does not record life, but also lives it.

ceived on its own, without apparent reference to what

struggle between socialism and capitalism symbolised in two images, a beard and a bottle, although it is ironic that Che became a ‘pop’ icon, infiltrating the bedsits of capitalist Western students, while Coca Cola was an irresistible subversive force for U.S. ‘Imperialism’, even in

Other Territories: The Worldwide Photobook

Stylistically the photography is varied (in the contem-

A retrospective trip through Chessex’s work in Latin America and then in other ‘Third World’ countries, the

comes before or after, and yet this does not hold up or cramp the narrative. It’s hard to achieve a flow with continual show stopping images, but Cases manages this

Luc Chessex Quand il n’y a plus d’Eldorado (When There is No More Eldorado) Hans-Rudolf Lutz, Zurich, 1982 300 × 202 mm (11ž × 8 in), 130 pp with two single-leaf gatefolds containing 35 loose-leaf photographic image plates and 4 single-leaf loose page inserts with captions Hardback with full black cloth with foil-blocked image and jacket 157 b&w photographs: 121 are reproduced on pages, 35 are loose-leaf plates in gatefold inserts Commentary by Michel Contat, Photographs by Luc Chessex, 1971

and much more, hardly missing a beat.

socialist countries.

Luc Chessex Le Visage de la RĂŠvolution (The Face of the Revolution) Lutz, Zurich, 1969 238 Ă— 160 mm (9Âź Ă— 6Âź in), 52 pp Printed paperback 39 b&w photographs Text by Michel Contat; design by Hans-Rudolf Lutz Ricardo Cases Paloma al aire (Dove into the Air) Photovision, Madrid, Schaden, Cologne, and Dewi Lewis Publishing, Stockport, 2011 215 Ă— 155 mm (8Âź Ă— 6Âź in), 74 pp. Hardcover, with photographically illustrated stiff card, spiral bound 46 colour photographs

Blenkinsop tells this depressing story in the form

firms in Bangkok licensed to pick up the victims of road

document of mayhem on the roads.

so than many societal rituals. Cases makes telling use of the close-up, both to gently reveal the eccentricities of

The notion of populist politics being embedded in posters and slogans is also a strong feature of Chessex’s

ing on the city’s streets can cause. Smashed cars and broken bodies litter the book, with the police and other

‘There is a dark force in every vehicle just waiting for the opportunity to take control.’ So writes Bill Blenkinsop

are especially afflicted, that Blenkinsop explores in his

ian sense.

of very superior reportage street photographs. But the revolution’s face may be also taken quite literally, as once

ages featuring Che, the other featuring Coca Cola. The

The Cars That Ate Bangkok

Dewi Lewis Publishing, Stockport, 2011

pher, Jacob Aue Sobol, dissatisfied with some pictures he had made on assignment to Greenland, returned

(When There is No More Eldorado)

main book has a striking supplement in the shape of two

Photovision, Madrid, Schaden, Cologne, and

Hans-Rudolf Lutz, Zurich, 1982

Ultimately, Sobol returned to Denmark and the de-

Killing Fields: Conflict and the Photobook

Ricardo Cases Paloma al aire (Dove into the Air)

Luc Chessex

portfolios of loose images. One is devoted to street imPhilip Blenkinsop The Cars That Ate Bangkok White Lotus, Bangkok, 1996 (limited edition of 1,000 copies) 295 × 209 mm (11½ × 8Ÿ in), 108 pp Hardback (black linen with red text) with jacket Numerous photographs by Philip Blenkinsop, ephemera and found images, all b&w Text by Philip Blenkinsop and found text (newpaper cutouts and articles); design by Philip Blenkinsop

Jacob Aue Sobol Sabine Politikens A/S, 2004 336 Ă— 228 mm (13 1/3 Ă— 9 in), 120 pp Hardback 54 b&w photographs Introduction by Finn Thrane

Quand il n’y a plus d’Eldorado

and Che Guevara.

Ricardo Cases Paloma al aire (Dove into the Air) Photovision, Madrid, Schaden, Cologne, and Dewi Lewis Publishing, Stockport, 2011 215 Ă— 155 mm (8Âź Ă— 6Âź in), 74 pp. Hardcover, with photographically illustrated stiff card, spiral bound 46 colour photographs

Along with the refugees’ stories, which give the imagery a solid context, these intriguing ‘found’ photographs

say is somewhat at odds with the subject, but in many ways goes towards mitigating the bitter and sobering pill Blenkinsop asks us to swallow.

Looking at Ourselves: The Photobook and Identity

The Photobook: A History KDAJB: >

The Photobook: A History KDAJB: >

Paul Kranzler

Diggin my way to London Self-published, Port Glasgow, 2005

Port Glasgow results from the year Mark Neville spent as

Port Glasgow results from the year Mark Neville spent as

an artist-in-residence in the Clyde Estuary town, once an

an artist-in-residence in the Clyde Estuary town, once an

important centre for shipbuilding, but now languishing

important centre for shipbuilding, but now languishing

in our ‘post industrial’ age. In his portrait of the town,

in our ‘post industrial’ age. In his portrait of the town,

Neville endeavoured to confront some of the problems

Neville endeavoured to confront some of the problems

of social documentary photography, that so often, it is a

of social documentary photography, that so often, it is a

matter of outsiders - however sympathetic they may be -

matter of outsiders - however sympathetic they may be -

taking a patronising view of those who are ‘other.’ Neville

taking a patronising view of those who are ‘other.’ Neville

endeavoured to involve his subjects in the process as

endeavoured to involve his subjects in the process as

much as possible and make the portrait a collaborative

much as possible and make the portrait a collaborative

enterprise. The resulting book was given only to eight

enterprise. The resulting book was given only to eight

thousand homes in the borough, and is not available

thousand homes in the borough, and is not available

elsewhere, although inevitably, a few have found their

elsewhere, although inevitably, a few have found their

way on to the market.

way on to the market.

Despite his care, the book still aroused controversy.

Despite his care, the book still aroused controversy.

While most thought it a fair reflection of the community,

While most thought it a fair reflection of the community,

there were dissenters. There were too many images of

there were dissenters. There were too many images of

pubs and drinking, some complained. While, in a very

pubs and drinking, some complained. While, in a very

West of Scotland reaction, some Protestants burnt their

West of Scotland reaction, some Protestants burnt their

copies at the back of a local Catholic Club, citing a per-

copies at the back of a local Catholic Club, citing a per-

ceived pro-Catholic bias in Neville’s representation of the

ceived pro-Catholic bias in Neville’s representation of the

community – a false accusation, as it turned out.

community – a false accusation, as it turned out.

All this goes to show that photographers cannot

Viviane Sassen

ages of two to five, Sassen lived in a Kenyan village with

Sassen’s imagery, but the social situation of her subjects.


her father, who was a doctor.

A young red painted girl, dressed in a Western skirt and

Contrasto, Rome, 2008

Flamboya is a complicated book about identity expressed through representation, playing with portrait

Viviane Sassen’s images of native Africans in her book Viviane Sassen Flamboya Contrasto, Rome, 2009 300 × 240 mm (12 × 9½ in), 96 pp Hardback with paper-covered boards 49 colour photographs Essay by Edo Dijksterhuis and Moses Isegawa; translation by Michael Gibbs; design by SYB

conventions and cultural preconceptions. Of course, the

blouse, is casually engaged in a worldwide activity, ‘texting’ on her mobile phone. There is a residual cultural attitude in the West, that of

Flamboya are both portraits and non-portraits. Often

work displays an awareness of the chequered history of

viewing Africa as still primitive. The image of the texting

the faces of her models are hidden, by heavy shadows

Europeans representing Africans, but deals with it, as it

girl, and others in this complex, joyous, and sometimes

or pieces of foliage, or just painted make-up, so they

were, by simply ignoring it. For the most part, Sassen

troubling book rightly undercuts this notion without

become universal - symbols for an idea of Africa, and

is talking about young Africans today, westernised, or

denying real differences. If Sassen has dealt with the

most probably Sassen’s own relationship with Africa.

should one say corrupted by global corporate consum-

difficulties of representation, she also asks her readers

Although born and raised primarily in Holland, from the

erism. One image sums up the complexity, not just of

to do likewise.

Shinro Ohthake

Land of milk and honey Self-published, Port Glasgow, 2005

All this goes to show that photographers cannot

please all of the people all of the time. More importantly,

please all of the people all of the time. More importantly,

it demonstrates that any photographic survey is partial,

it demonstrates that any photographic survey is partial,

and tendentious – ultimately, the control is with the per-

and tendentious – ultimately, the control is with the per-

son wielding the camera. However, in fifty years time,

son wielding the camera. However, in fifty years time,

Port Glasgow will no doubt be regarded as an affection-

Port Glasgow will no doubt be regarded as an affection-

ate, fascinating, unpreachy, and not unrepresentative

ate, fascinating, unpreachy, and not unrepresentative

document of community in Britain at the beginning of

document of community in Britain at the beginning of

the 21st century – not least by those who were in it and

the 21st century – not least by those who were in it and

are happily still around.

are happily still around.

Paul Kranzler Land of Milk and Honey Fotohof, Salzburg, 2005 (edition of 600 in English and 600 in German) 295 x 240 mm (11½ x 9½ in), 128 pp Hardback 77 b&w and 16 colour illustrations Texts by Paul Kranzler and Stella Rollig; translation by Stephen Grynwasser; layout and design by Paul Kranzler and Mayrhofer & Partner, Linz

Shinro Ohtake UK 77: Digging My Way to London Getsuyosha Ltd., Tokyo, 2007 255 x 180 mm (10 x 7 in), 560 pp Hardback with full black cloth and jacket, and bellyband Numerous colour and b&w photographs, drawings, ephemera and collages Photographs by Kuniko Hirano; design by Shingo Ikeda

The Photobook-A History Vol.3  

Wie eine Ausstellung in Buchform sind Fotobücher wundervoll gestaltet und erscheinen in kleinen Auflagen – begehrenswerte Objekte, die man s...