The Photobook in Art and Society

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The Photobook in Art and Society Participative Potentials of a Medium

Edited by

Montag Stiftung Kunst und Gesellschaft





Welcome Together We Are More 27 Cooperation in Times of Transition Ruth Gilberger

Photobooks for All! An Introduction


Ruth Gilberger

1. Introductions Between the Novel and the Film A Brief History of the Photobook


What Is It Made of? Experiences with Participation by Virtue of Art


Worlds of Contradiction Between Global Upheavals and Local Lifeworlds


Photobooks on Transitions Books from an Exhibition


Gerry Badger

Susanne Bosch

Shalini Randeria

Anne-Katrin Bicher, Frederic Lezmi, Markus Schaden


2. A Mobile Photobook Project: World in Transition From Concept to Realisation New Access to the Photobook


Anne-Katrin Bicher

2.1. Alliances on Site

Interviews with Project Partners

Michaela Selling (Kulturamt Rostock) Frank Jebavy (Kulturbetriebe Duisburg) Tobias Hartung (Kulturamt Kassel) Yasemin İnce Albayrak/Birgit Hengesbach-Knoop (Frauentreff Brückenhof, Kassel) Dieter Neubert (Fotobookfestival Kassel)


2.2. Exhibiting Photobooks Differently

Please Browse! Notes on Exhibiting the Photobook


Aesthetic Experience—How Does That Work?


Anne-Katrin Bicher Ruth Gilberger

2.3. Publishing Photobooks

From the Artist Talks Andrea Diefenbach Peter Bialobrzeski Carolyn Drake Carlos Spottorno


2.4. Seventy Dummies for the Future

Everyone Can Make a Photobook! Frederic Lezmi, Markus Schaden



How Do I Encounter the Visual Chaos? An Editorial Guide


From Upheavals and New Beginnings Reports from the Photobook Workshops


Big Little City


Linn Phyllis Seeger, Wolfgang Zurborn

Ursula Birkner Arax Karapetjan Renate and Wolfgang Krieg Prem LĂźers Joseph Maher Gabriele Luck Yasemin Ä°nce Albayrak Nico Baumgarten

3. Perspectives Hyperpresence and Reflection The Photobook under Digital Conditions


Stand Up and Speak Out! A Celebration of Photobooks by Women


The Photobook between Colonialism, Propaganda, and Activism Perspectives from Indonesia


Take Part and Take a Chance! Participatory Potentials of a Medium


Michael Hagner

Russet Lederman

Gunawan Widjaja

Ruth Gilberger, Markus Schaden


SEE YOU! Partners Authors

454 455

Photographs 460 Special Thanks 467 Imprint 468


Together We Are More Cooperation in Times of Transition


Photobooks for All! An Introduction


Ruth Gilberger

Ruth Gilberger 25


Gerry Badger


“A photobook is an autonomous art form, comparable with a piece of sculpture, a play, or a film.”  Ralph Prins 1 Ralph Prins was one of the first to use the word photobook with a specific connotation. It does not refer to just any book illustrated by photographs. Instead, it is used to denote a book whose primary message is carried by photographs, but photobook also suggests a certain creative ambition on the part of its author, and it is indeed used to mark a qualitative distinction. The American photographer John Gossage has defined the essence of a good photobook as follows: “Firstly, it should contain great work. Secondly, it should make that work function as a concise world within the book itself. Thirdly, it should have a design that complements what is being dealt with. And finally, it should deal with content that sustains an ongoing interest.” 2 As both Prins and Gossage indicate, the photobook is part of the photographic world, an integral part of it, yet it is also its own world, with its own canon of great and highly regarded works. Nevertheless, many of the key photobooks have been created by the leading photographers of the day, and they have made key contributions to the development of photographic aesthetics. Yet, photographers who are not part of the canon of great photographic figures can occupy an honoured place in photobook history. Furthermore, in a relatively recent development, excellent photobooks are being made by non-photographers, using appropriated photographs of all kinds. The first photobook appeared within five years of the medium’s invention. The first photographic method, Louis Daguerre’s daguerreotype, introduced in 1839 in France, was a singular image on a copper plate, therefore hardly conducive to making books. It was William Henry Fox Talbot’s calotype negative, and its ability to reproduce an endless number of positive prints, that created the basis for modern photography and for the photobook in particular. In Great Britain in 1844, Talbot produced the first part of his multi-volume treatise The Pencil of Nature3 (1844–46) in which pasted-in calotypes accompanied commentaries discussing the virtues and the future of photography. The Pencil set something of a standard for the genre, in that it was both a showcase for a photographer’s work but also a polemic for the photographic medium. Talbot was interested in the practical uses of photography. However, in 1843, Talbot’s Pencil was beaten to the punch, as it were, by the British botanist Anna Atkins’ Photograms of British Algae4 (1843–53), now rightly regarded as the 56

Between the Novel and the Film – Gerry Badger

first photobook. Atkins set a different standard. Indeed, whereas Talbot’s book is of its time, Atkins’ could have been produced today. The stark but beautiful repetition of these blue-and-white images prefigures the conceptual photobooks of 60s and 70s artists by more than a century. In the beginning, photography was referred to as the “half art, half science”. It was invented in Great Britain and France, the two main colonial powers at the time, and quickly became part of the knowledge-gathering industry, at the service of the imperialist enterprise. Thus, nineteenth century photography, and especially the photobook, which was adept at collating and categorising, focussed generally on the practical rather than the artistic side of the medium in documenting the world. For example, a book like Maxime du Camp’s Egypt, Nubia, Palestine and Syria5 (1852), served the disciplines of travel and antiquarianism, as did Auguste Salzmann’s Jerusalem6 (1856), and Francis Frith’s Egypt, Sinai and Jerusalem7 (1862–63), and many others. If the past was an interest, so was the present, thus Philip Delamotte’s Crystal Palace8 (1855), and Édouard Baldus’s The Railway From Paris to Lyon and the Mediterranean9 (1861–63), showcased architecture, engineering, and national pride. War also occupied photographers, not so much to condemn it but rather to justify the decisions of politicians, especially the Crimean War in Great Britain and the American Civil War, as seen in George N. Barnard’s Photographic Views of Sherman’s Campaign10 (1866). In John Thomson’s Illustrations of China and Its People11 (1873), an apparently objective book documenting place, architecture, and ethnology actually was serving the dictates of colonialism. There were many other such books. Photography was interested in documenting the other from the beginning, whereby middle-class, largely European photographers photographed the lower classes and people of other races. Some books also served more dubious sciences, like phrenology, the study of human physiognomy aiming to detect criminals on the basis of their physical features. Photographic documentation was definitely a means of social control, but could also be used in progressive social enterprises, like Thomas Annan’s12 Old Glasgow (1878–79), which was intended to document slum living conditions, but also memorialise areas swept away for new social housing. All the books mentioned were illustrated with original prints pasted into the pages, a method both cumbersome and expensive. From photography’s beginning, various inventors sought to combine photography with ink, enabling photographs to be printed in conventional printing presses. Some of the methods initially developed were as cumbersome as handmade prints, but in 1890, a small, roughly made book appeared, containing both photographs and lithographs printed in ink. Jacob Riis’s How the Other Half Lives13 (1890), published in New York by the Danish-born emigré, introduced the half-tone plate, which became the basis for all photographic book printing prior to the digital age, and marked the beginning of photography as a mass medium.14 57


Food Henk Wildschut How Does the Future Taste? For a commission, Henk Wildschut spent two years in the Netherlands photographing the work of farmers and entrepreneurs looking for innovations in food production. Their work fascinates him. He finds himself over-romanticising organic products and realising that our food is born in a clinical world full of regulations and protocols. A world that is too complex to allow one to easily distinguish between good and evil. Wildschut, Henk (2013), Food, Rotterdam: Post Editions.

The Table of Power 2  Jacqueline Hassink Power Brokers What do the centres of power of the largest companies in the world look like? This question interested Jacqueline Hassink (1966–2018)beginning in the early 1990s, when she travelled around the globe for the first time and photographed the boardrooms of the forty most important global corporations and banks (The Table of Power, 1 1996). Fifteen years later, she returns, for she is interested in whether there has been a change in the companies and corporate boardrooms following the 2007 global financial crisis. As in 1993, a few doors remain closed for the photo artist, including Daimler AG in Stuttgart. Hassink, Jacqueline (2011), The Table of Power 2, Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz. 1 Hassink, Jacqueline (1996), The Table of Power, Amsterdam: Menno van de Koppel.


Photobooks on Transitions – Anne-Katrin Bicher, Markus Schaden

Die Mauer ist weg!  Mark Power Gatecrashing the Fall of the Berlin Wall As Mark Power flies by pure coincidence and with his last money in his pocket on 9 November 1989 from London to Berlin, he does not yet suspect that the wall will fall that night—and this occurrence will change his life. Like “crashing a party I hadn’t been invited to”1 was how Power felt photographing the celebrations in the no-man’s land around Checkpoint Charlie. The next morning, news agencies spread his photos around the world. His career as a press photographer began, as the title of the Berlin tabloid B.Z. headlined, “The wall is gone!”—inspiring him to present this book twenty years later. Power, Mark (2014), Die Mauer ist weg!, Brighton: Globtik Books. 1 Ibid.

Wild Pigeon Carolyn Drake Images of Resistance How can you become acquainted with people who are being silenced by state censorship? One way is to exchange pictures. Or this, at least, is how American photographer Carolyn Drake approached the Uyghurs who live in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in Western China. The title of her self-published book Wild Pigeon pays homage to Uyghur writer Nurmuhemmet Yasin, who was arrested in China in 2004 for publishing his eponymous story (“Wild Pigeon”) and died in prison in 2011, according to Amnesty International.1 Drake, Carolyn (2014), Wild Pigeon, n.p.: self-published. 1 “China. Uigurischer Schriftsteller im Gefängnis gestorben”,, 03.01.2013,


Julian Germain For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds Of Happiness London 2005 (Mack)


Yves Gellie Human Version Paris 2013 (Loco)


A Mobile Photobook Project: World in Transition

A Mobile Photobook Project


The centrepiece of World in Transition was the photobook exhibition with works by twenty-two internationally renowned photographers who work on contemporary transitions. The range of topics covered by the books on display was wide: climate change, urbanisation, migration and flight, and political and economic upheavals, to name a few, as well as personal transitions. The books were displayed in three cargo containers and were freely accessible to be read and touched. The spatial staging was reduced, and short texts introduced the content of the books.

Outdoor Installation

We showed the majority of the individual photographs from the picture atlas in XXL size as weatherproof PVC prints on euro pallets. These stood outside the exhibition containers on the exhibition site, so that passers-by could interact directly with the images, take selfies, or study their details. Touching was encouraged! Like all other exhibition elements, these remained undamaged, even though we had consciously decided not to hire a security service. In Rostock, the volunteers not only helped with the production of the outdoor installation but also curated the placement of the images on site.


From Concept to Realisation – Anne-Katrin Bicher

Catalogue Workshop

In the Catalogue Workshop visitors were able to compile their own exhibition catalogue free of charge, using photographs from the various photobooks, as a loose-leaf collection. This proved to be a highly entertaining and popular way of taking an extra moment to engage with what visitors had seen, try out image combinations, and share thoughts about one’s visual preferences with other visitors or the arts education team. In the workshop, the catalogue pages could be further developed into collages or other formats. When it rained, the workshop also offered shelter for the children‘s workshops, which otherwise took place outside.

Café Courage

The Courage was still a prototype in Groß Klein. The container, open on one of the long sides, was conceived as an important social meeting point, supplied with drinks and snacks by a local caterer. Given the cool weather and the space’s comparatively sparse furnishing, however, the café in Rostock did not yet offer the relaxing atmosphere and artistic environment which was needed. In the later stages of the project, the design of the Courage as a “walk-in photobook” was thus developed more clearly, and the catering was reduced to free drinks offered by the team.This achieved the desired effect: over the course of the project, the Courage significantly contributed to the social quality of World in Transition and was highly frequented by visitors as an inspiring communicative hub.

Photobook Workshops

The workshops offered the most intensive artistic experience with the photobook and their own photographic practice. With the support of photographers and book designers, participants who had no previous knowledge of photography or book production were able to produce a photobook dummy within two days. They worked with photos from smartphones or digital cameras, as well with analogue prints. In Rostock, this intensive format of engaging aesthetically with photobooks showed its potential. We consequently optimised the the workshop programme, increasing the number of workshops and encouraged diversity of the groups in terms of age, gender, social context, and photographic interests.


Publishing Photobooks

“If you ignore the audience, the audience will ignore you.” Carlos Spottorno In Kassel, Carlos Spottorno and Markus Schaden had a sofa talk on new strategies in photobook making and distribution, reaching big audiences, and travelling light. For The Pigs, 1 you faked the Economist magazine, for the photobook project Wealth Management2 you set up a website by the fictional WTF bank. When did you have the ideas for these unusual photobook projects? I have been focussing on the Southern European crisis for a long time and I wanted to make The Pigs book to address the story of Europe. First of all, I wanted to make very expensive and good looking books, because I thought the contrast of very poor social conditions depicted in an expensive book would be something interesting. But at some point, I thought to myself: “Why not just fake the source of where the term ‘PIGS’ was born? So I came up with the idea of creating a book in a financial magazine design. The most difficult thing was to find the right paper. Could the book find new audiences from different parts of society? Were there forms of feedback which you had never expected? This has been my goal for a long time, to reach out to big audiences. Yes, The Pigs is cheap and light, so you can carry it easily. When you go to festivals and other photobook events, it is a very good idea to produce light books. People like to buy them, as it is easy to take them back home. And you used guerrilla strategies of distributing The Pigs—tell us about it! By chance, just after the photo-festival in Arles, I had to travel to Los Angeles within forty-eight hours. At all the airports where I had a stop-over, I put the magazine in the stack of the airport newsagents and posted a picture of that on Facebook and Instagram. Some people believed it was true, that I actually sold The Pigs at the airport. It worked out well to attract people’s attention and to create the impression that selling photobooks via mainstream book distributors could actually be possible.


From the Artist Talks – Carlos Spottorno

Is the response of the audience important for you when making a book? Does it motivate you? The original motivation of anything I do is because I am interested in the topic, not a possible audience. But once I have chosen my topic, I certainly try to find ways to reach new audiences. If you ignore the audience, the audience will ignore you. That is a very basic idea that I believe in since my advertising times. If people do not understand whatever you are trying to say, it is useless. So indeed, my aim is to reach people and their feedback is very important. It is part of the equation. So what was the next step after The Pigs? How did Wealth Management come along? Wealth Management mimics a private bank brochure. I had been working on the financial world for an assignment. So I travelled to Switzerland, Luxembourg, and London and photographed people and situations who to me looked like rich gangster plotting in the back of society ways to enrich themselves. For The Pigs I photographed poor people, for Wealth Management I photographed rich people. When I had completed the book, I presented it at the festival in Kassel and Martin Parr was raising the questions: “Carlos, is there anything beyond pastiche books? Can you do anything different?” And I said: “Yes, I am working on something new.” However, eventually, my new book also ended up being “pastiche”—La Grieta3 (2016). Let’s speak about this new book of yours. With La Grieta you actually developed a new photobook genre: the photographic novel. How did the idea for this come about? Again, this book project began with an assignment by a magazine to shoot the borders of the European Union. After some trips, the writer Guillermo Abril and I had come home with 25,000 images, had recorded lots of voices and had many stories to tell. We realised that the traditional black and white photobook was not appropriate with regard to narrating a story about the EU, which is dramatically changing. Brexit news were rife at the time, for example. So I thought to myself, what is similar or close to our photographic world that is a useful narrative to tell a long and complicated story? Graphic novels came to my mind, and they gave me the impulse to turn the photographic images into graphic images. I like this treatment of the photographs so much. I get addicted to it. You have the same image, but see it from a different perspective. You found a German, French, Italian, and Spanish publisher for the book  … Yes, so far 22,000 copies have been published. The topic is very relevant for all the European countries that the book is published in. The feedback I have on the content of the book is similar almost everywhere we go. Everyone is interested, shocked to see how many things are currently happening in Europe at the same time and yet appreciative of the fact that 291

Seventy Dummies for the Future

HOW DO I ENCOUNTER THE VISUAL CHAOS? AN EDITORIAL GUIDE As part of the versatile workshop format World in Transition, certain editorial approaches have emerged over the years which make it possible to analyse and structure any pictorial material, however heterogeneous it may be. On the following pages we will explain, with the use of graphics, how this flood of images has actually come about and how it is possible to navigate the visual chaos of one’s own images without betraying this liveliness to conventional systems of order.

Photography as a Reaction to the World of Images Today, photography reflects not only an encounter with reality but also with the collective world of images, because in everyday life we move not only through architecture, landscape, and social interactions but also amidst images that constantly confront us in urban space and the media. Our consciousness is therefore shaped from early on by the perception of images whose content and meaning communicate far beyond language barriers. This collective image memory is part of how we see, and it influences the images we produce. In this sense, the photograph of a landscape not only depicts the landscape itself but also gives an impression of already-existing pictures of it, and of the personal perspective of the photographer.


How Do I Encounter the Visual Chaos? – Linn Phyllis Seeger, Wolfgang Zurborn

How Do I Encounter the Visual Chaos? The world we move through is chaotic—at least once you zoom out: apart from the microcosm of our everyday life, which might be highly structured, we find ourselves in a world in which myriad cultures, realities, structures of identity and habit, and mentalities overlap. This is the richness of the world many people seek to discover when they travel and attempt to break out of their own microcosm. In the act of photographing, moments and situations amidst this chaos are discovered and singled out. But photographs that are taken based on an intuition often leave even the photographer perplexed, with the question: why did I take this picture? A new chaos emerges: the chaos found on the table when dozens and hundreds of such images are waiting to be edited. At this point, the principle is not to clear or clean up this chaos, but to structure it. The photographer’s intuition must be trusted. What is to be discovered—through an analysis of the visual language and what we call visual modules—is why the photographer took the shot.

Creating Order without Betraying Chaos Photographs follow a visual syntax that needs to be deciphered. In every assemblage of images, however disorderly it may be, there are modules of visual language which allow structures to be discerned. If the collection of images describes a journey, for example, the experience can be defined by modules such as “person”, “space”, “object”, or the like. This makes portraits, for example, a module, because they define persons as an element of the narrative. Similarly, architecture, landscape, or interior photographs describe the place in question and thus function as a module “space”. Objets trouvés, which can tell something about the processes, habits, and peculiarities of life in a particular place, are also a common subject for photographs. Nevertheless, every photographer expresses such modules in different visual forms. The process of analysing the individual visual means and modules is retrospective. It gradually counters the supposed arbitrariness of the images with structures and criteria that make images intelligible through comparison.



ARCHEOLOGY OF THE SOUL „Cardie“ – Marie Schlüter Duisburg 2017





Authors 455 Photographs 460 Special Thanks 467 Imprint 468