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HUMANITAS II by Fredric Roberts “Humanitas II ... is a book about relationships that tells a story of beauty and grace, work and family, spirituality and devotion ... Echoing photography of India through time yet created in a contemporary context, the photographs in this book are concerned with the present and its link to the past.” —From the Introduction by Deborah Willis, PhD., MacArthur, Guggenheim and Fletcher Fellow and Professor of Photography, NYU, Tisch School of the Arts Humanitas II: The People of Gujarat. Photographs by Fredric Roberts. Hylas Publishing, Irvington, NY. 96 pp., 55 four-color plates, 10.5 x 11.25, clothbound. ISBN 1-59258-268-0 $60.00 Also available Humanitas Volume One. Photographs by Fredric Roberts. Hylas Publishing, Irvington, NY. 88 pp., 55 four-color plates, 10.5 x 11.25, clothbound. ISBN 1-59258-130-7 $40.00 Books available at photo-eye Books and fine bookstores everywhere. To view more of the photography of Fredric Roberts visit www.FredricRoberts.com


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CONTENTS Fall 2007

VOLUME 29 // ISSUE NO. 3

56

32

Detail of 19-1988 from Passing Through Eden by Tod Papageorge. Published by Steidl.

About Our Cover 14 Publisher Profile 24 Survey of New Books 30 Rooted to Place 42

Detail of Carla Sozzani & Azzedine Alaïa from Fashion Magazine, Paris Minnesota by Alec Soth. Published by Magnum, Paris.

Paul Graham’s Chekhov-inspired work shimmers with possibility. » INTERVIEW BY RICHARD WOODWARD One by one, we interview the publishers of the books we love. » A PHOTO-EYE QUESTIONNAIRE The quarterly survey of the best new photography books. » BY VARIOUS CONTRIBUTORS Lucy R. Lippard’s career seen through a lifetime of books. » INTERVIEW BY MARY ANNE REDDING

Out There, Hidden 50

This new book by Taryn Simon will take you by surprise. » A PHOTO-EYE PRESENTATION

Minnesota to Paris 56

Alec Soth is the third to tackle the witty Fashion Magazine. » INTERVIEW BY JEN BEKMAN

Publishing the Photography Book 62 Roving Eye 67 Old & Rare Survey 70 Editor’s Choice 80

A column about the ins-and-outs of publishing. » BY MARY VIRGINIA SWANSON AND DARIUS HIMES Our Paris-based correspondent offers up a new column. » BY AVIS CARDELLA A regular column that surveys important books of the past. » BY ERIC MILES Our editor reviews a singular title of the season. » BY DARIUS HIMES

ON OUR COVER From A Shimmer of Possibility © Paul Graham and Steidl Publishers, 2007 (interview p. 14).


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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

PHOTO-EYE PUBLISHED QUARTERLY BY

© SaraStathas.com

PHOTO-EYE BOOKS & PRINTS 370 GARCIA STREET SANTA FE, NM 87501 TEL 505 988 5152 FAX 505 988 4487

Truly it is easier to “speculate” about what Aristotle thought, even if such speculation must be supported by the most careful adduction of evidences, than it is to speculate, as Aristotle did, about the nature of things. —Mortimer Adler To speculate about the nature of things, as the everyman philosopher Mortimer Adler encouraged in the short, lucid essay “Docility and History” (The Commonweal, April 26, 1940), is to engage in philosophy rather than historical scholarship. And much of the history of the 20th century has been a battle zone as to the value of such speculation based on an open doubting of the possibility of knowing the nature of things. Photography too has played its role in this philosophical tug-of-war. The veracity of photographic images, even when heavily qualified, and their ability to shed light on both delightful and dire worldly circumstances, is a thread that has remained unbroken since the beginning of the medium more than 160 years ago. Reflected light forever captured on light-sensitive material has the ability to tell something of the “world out there.” Photojournalists from whatever age— starting with Roger Fenton and leading directly to James Nachtwey and younger practitioners like Cuny Janssen and Aaron Huey—have founded their careers on this fundamental fact. But the amount of “truth” that an image can portray, and how easily that truth can be manipulated to the point of presenting entire falsehoods under a truthful guise, is a big part of the past 40 years of art and imagemaking. The work of Cindy Sherman, Nikki S. Lee and the playful Joan Fontcuberta immediately comes to mind in this context. In between truth and fiction lies the rich diversity of artists using the photographic medium (in all of its historical and technological variety). The issue you hold in your hands celebrates this diversity. In our cover story, Richard Woodward holds a lengthy conversation with British photographer Paul Graham about his multiple book project; Jen Bekman interviews the reluctant fashion photographer Alec Soth on the latest installment of Fashion Magazine, published by the Paris office of Magnum; Mary Anne Redding, an accomplished writer and, in the interest of full disclosure, one of my first undergraduate professors, interviews the influential and enigmatic Lucy R. Lippard; and American-born writer Avis Cardella, happily ensconced in her Parisian home, inaugurates a new column entitled “Roving Eye.” As always, our intention with this photography magazine-cum-book journal is to inspire dialogue and discuss inspiration. We hope you enjoy the issue.

Darius Himes, Editor

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darius@photoeye.com

DIRECTOR/PUBLISHER RIXON REED rick@photoeye.com EDITOR DARIUS HIMES darius@photoeye.com ASSISTANT TO THE EDITOR HANNAH NEWBURN hannah@photoeye.com MAGAZINE & DATABASE ASSISTANT JENNY GOLDBERG booklist@photoeye.com PROOFREAD BY: LAURA ADDISON PRINTED BY: THE STINEHOUR PRESS, LUNENBURG, VT DISTRIBUTED BY: UBIQUITY MAGAZINES, BROOKLYN, NY INGRAM PERIODICALS, TENNESSEE SUBSCRIPTION INFO COVER PRICE $8.95 ONE YEAR (4 ISSUES) $26, TWO YEARS (8 ISSUES) $50 CANADA/MEXICO: +$6 FOR POSTAGE (1ST CLASS MAIL)

SUBSCRIPTIONS HANDLED BY PRESTIGE FULFILLMENT TO ORDER A SUBSCRIPTION CALL 954 772 6659, 954 772 6823, OR 954 772 6848. ADDRESS ALL SUBSCRIPTION RELATED CORRESPONDENCE TO: PHOTO-EYE BOOKLIST, P.O. BOX 9823, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL 33310-9823. BY CHECK (US FUNDS DRAWN ON A US BANK) OR VISA, MASTERCARD, AMEX, DISCOVER.

VISIT OUR WEBSITE WWW.PHOTOEYE.COM/BOOKLIST

PHOTO-EYE MAGAZINE SUBMISSIONS POLICY THE EDITORIAL OFFICES OF PHOTO-EYE MAGAZINE ARE HAPPY TO RECEIVE REVIEW COPIES OF PUBLISHED BOOKS. UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPTS OR BOOK DUMMIES ARE NOT ACCEPTED. REVIEW COPIES WILL NOT BE RETURNED. PLEASE ALLOW 4-6 WEEKS FOR RESPONSE. PHOTO-EYE BOOKSTORE, A SEPARATE BUSINESS FROM THE MAGAZINE, CAN BE CONTACTED (SEE BELOW)

GENERAL PHOTO-EYE CONTACT INFO 800 227 6941 OR 505 988 5152

BOOK DIVISION MANAGER MELANIE MCWHORTER melanie@photoeye.com GALLERY ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR & PHOTOGRAPHER’S SHOWCASE HEATHER PRICHARD heather@photoeye.com GALLERY ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR ANNE KELLY anne@photoeye.com DIRECTOR, RARE BOOK DIVISION AND ONLINE AUCTIONS ERIC MILES eric@photoeye.com PRIVACY POLICY OCCASIONALLY PHOTO-EYE RENTS OR EXCHANGES NAMES AND MAILING ADDRESSES WITH OTHER COMPANIES IF WE FIND THEIR MAILING TO RELATE TO FINE-ART PHOTOGRAPHY. IF YOU PREFER NOT TO HAVE YOUR NAME RELEASED, EMAIL WEBMASTER@PHOTOEYE.COM OR CALL 800 227 6941


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CONTRIBUTORS JEN BEKMAN owns a gallery (www.jenbekman.com),

ERIC MILES, an art historian, is photo-eye’s

writes a blog called Personism (www.personism.com) and runs a quarterly photo competition, Hey, Hot Shot! (www.heyhotshot.com). Her latest endeavor is 20×200 (www.20×200.com), a place to buy editioned prints and photos at ridiculously affordable prices.

rare-book specialist. He writes a regular column on rare and collectible photobooks for photo-eye. He is based in New York City and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

AVIS CARDELLA is a freelance writer specializing in the areas of photography, art and pop culture. Her work has appeared in various publications, including American Photo, ArtReview, Picture, Surface and British Vogue. A born and bred New Yorker, she currently resides in Paris, France.

EUGENIA PARRY has written pioneering books and

articles about art and photography for nearly forty years. Her Crime Album Stories (Scalo, 2000), a book of meta-fiction, based on a Paris police album of photographs of violent crimes from around 1900, won the International Center for Photography’s “Infinity” award for writing in 2001. She lives in Cerrillos, New Mexico. JOHN PILSON is a photographer and filmmaker. His

DEBRA KLOMP CHING gained her M.A. in critical

history and theory of photography from the University of Derby (UK) in 1998. The former director of Pavilion (UK), she now resides in New York City, where she is an independent curator, writer and photography consultant.

work has been featured in recent exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, The Guggenheim Museum and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. His first book of photographs, Interregna (Hatje Cantz) was published this year. He currently holds teaching positions at Bard College and the Yale School of Art. He lives and works in New York City.

MARY GOODWIN is an M.F.A. candidate in photogra-

phy at the University of New Mexico. She was a guest student at the Hochschule für Graphik und Buchkunst in Leipzig, Germany, in the Summer 2006 semester. PHIL HARRIS is a photographer, teacher and writer

who lives in Portland, Oregon. In 2000, he published a twenty-year photographic retrospective book, Fact Fiction Fabrication. ANTHONY LASALA is a senior editor at Photo District News magazine and has freelanced for a host of other publications, including Time Out NY, Billboard, Yankee Magazine, Sights and TV Guide. LaSala has authored two books, The World’s Top Photographers: Nudes (Rotovision, 2005) and The Brooklynites (powerHouse, 2007), and was nominated as photo editor of the year by the International Photography Awards in 2003 and 2004. He lives in beautiful Brooklyn, New York. LARISSA LECLAIR is a photographer, writer and

traveler. Her work focuses on visual history and culture, and international photography. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.

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MARY ANNE REDDING is the curator of photography

at the Palace of the Governors/New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Previous professional experience includes authoring essays for numerous exhibition catalogues and stints at New Mexico State University, the Light Factory, the Center for Creative Photography, the Art Institute of Chicago and Northlight Gallery at Arizona State University. MARY VIRGINIA SWANSON is an author,

educator and consultant committed to helping photographers advance their careers. She lives and works in Tucson and New York City. Visit her at www.mvswanson.com. RICHARD B. WOODWARD is an art critic in

New York who contributes regularly to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. His most recent essay on photography appears in South Central, a monograph by Mark Steinmetz (Nazraeli Press).


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R

Radius Books is a NM not-for-profit corporation. Federal tax-exemption pending.

RADIUS BOOKS

Books give an accessible form to rich and complex creative visions. They become the vehicles for beauty, reflection, and change. Announcing the launch of RADIUS BOOKS, a not-for-profit publishing company based in Santa Fe. Check us out at www.radiusbooks.com


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ABOUT OUR COVER

EMBEDDED IN THESE TWELVE INDIVIDUAL BOOKS

is a vision of America that is, on the surface, about everyday life. Everyday people are portrayed in everyday circumstances—mowing the lawn, waiting at a bus stop, observing a busy intersection. Nothing special. Below that surface, however, is a current that flows in immeasurable ways. Paul Graham, who stands as one of the most engaging of documentarians, has found a way to slip into the river of the commonness of American life and emerge with short stories that feel, for lack of a better term, real. Richard Woodward interviewed the artist for photo-eye.

A Shimmer of Possibility Inspired by the short stories of Russian writer Anton Chekhov, British photographer Paul Graham offers up a unique view of America. Interview by RICHARD WOODWARD

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Richard Woodward: Let’s start with this new book, which is actually a series of books, and work backwards. How did the project originate? Paul Graham: My principal sources were Chekhov’s short stories, and the critical essays around those. A lot of people have tried to understand why this writing works so well, since in the stories there’s not much happening. They’re dealing with the simple, everyday things—in one of them a woman is combing her hair for six pages, remembering that night at the theatre; in another a school teacher is coming home in a cart dreaming of meeting the landowner, who does ride past and they exchange a few pleasantries, but nothing more. But there’s something magical about how perfectly described they are, the transparency of what’s happening, without guff or show, simply described, with nothing proscribed. I’ve been traveling around the States for a while now, and wanted to do something looser and freer, to take pictures of people at the most ordinary, everyday moments—cutting the grass or waiting for the bus, smoking cigarettes or traveling to and from the supermarket. I wanted to reflect Chekhov’s openness, his simple transparency; this was something I tried to move toward. I’m not, of course, literally illustrating Chekhov’s stories, but similarly isolating a small rivulet of time. So, each of the individual books is a photographic short story, a filmic haiku. They are quite short, but complete in their modest way. RW: But difficult to convey, I would think, no? The layout must have been the crucial step. PG: Yes, in terms of making them, it was a process of letting go of one’s own pretensions and not looking for this great summation picture of any given situation. For example, while photographing a man at a bus stop in Vegas, I just had to slow down, take a step back, and realize that the moment before and the moment after are just as valuable as the instant when he takes the perfect drag on the cigarette. The multiple book form is the most logical development of this— ten or twelve volumes each holding one or two stories within their pages; self-contained yet linked to each other. And I’m fortunate enough to have Michael Mack and Gerhard Steidl support this. One book has just a single picture in it; another has 64 pages of images taken at an intersection in New Orleans, watching life roll by. RW: Where was the picture of the lawn-mowing man taken? It’s fantastic. PG: Pittsburgh. That was one of my early road trips and I really


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ALL IMAGES COURTESY PAUL GRAHAM AND STEIDL.

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wasn’t expecting much. When I set out I thought, I’ll never be able to do anything good, so I’ll just have fun, and see the country a bit. But then I saw this guy cutting the grass. It’s kind of perfect that his shirt is a riff on the American flag too. RW: What I like about the work is that you are clearly dissatisfied with the confines of traditional documentary, but you haven’t made the jump, as so many do, to video. You haven’t given into temptations . . . PG: . . . like staging my work. I’ve never wanted to become a filmmaker. I’ve always seen the two major tropes in photography as the studio and the street. And I’m a street person. I don’t get tired of trying to understand and look at the wonderful amazing nature of what’s around us. Yes, I have dissatisfaction with classic documentary language. It was wonderful when it was invented. But it has to be alive, to grow, develop, just like the spoken word. We don’t speak the same way we spoke in 1938 or 1956, so why should we make pictures the same way? RW: But the dissatisfaction of others, particularly with the narrative limitations of photography, has led them to add sound or moving image sequences. You seem deter-

mined—and happy—to stay within the boundaries. PG: Well, some might see these books as leading toward building a narrative. RW: Clearly. PG: Part of this is about the new flexibility of digital photography. You are able to shoot and shoot and then look at everything on screen. The technology does liberate people. You can get remarkable quality, close to 4×5, working on the street. RW: But you are clearly an outsider and we never learn much about these people. PG: I have no problem with that. I don’t want to feign being intimate with somebody I meet five minutes ago. I accept and embrace that so much in life is “ships passing in the dark.” The world is comprised of 99.9% strangers. RW: Is that what you don’t like about photojournalism, the pretense of intimacy that is there? PG: It’s undoubtedly there in some photojournalism. But I have more problems with the motives and uses of photojournalism—the clichéd stories they tell, or the way photography is used to service a written story. We have to be honest: so much in photography is pabulum, and aspires to nothing beyond well-worn vernacular. 15


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RW: Let’s move backward. Who were the important photographers to you when you were starting out in England? PG: The important photographers to me belong in that period from 1966 to 1976, mostly American, let’s say from “New Documents” to “New Topographics.” It was a profound creative period for photography. Szarkowski at MoMA radicalized things for photographers by creating an artistic territory to operate in that wasn’t there before. Before, you were either an editorial photographer working for magazines in a semi-documentary style, or a fine-art photographer making pictures of landscapes or nudes or rocks. He swept aside that division and showed that people like Diane Arbus and Garry Winogrand were making the most profound photographic work of our time, and though it looked like “documentary,” it was far more than that, and it didn’t belong in magazines, but in museums. This was transformative: bringing “documentary style” work into the highest museum of our country. It’s little appreciated, but was perhaps Szarkowski’s greatest gift—recognizing and defining a new artistic space. RW: How was that work translated for someone growing up in England? PG: When I became aware of it in the mid-70s, it was through books. Hence my great emphasis on books more than exhibitions. Reading Public Relations, and the Diane Arbus monograph and Lee Friedlander books, was very important. I didn’t get Robert Frank at first, because it seemed almost photojournalistic, but strangely I got Eggleston right away. RW: Really? PG: It was an instinctual rather than an intellectual understanding. The first thing I saw of Eggleston’s was a promotional pamphlet for Election Eve. A friend came back from the states, and he gave me this brochure with six pictures in it. I was struck by his elliptical, tangential approach. So elegant and beautiful. RW: So you were taking pictures by then? PG: I learned how a camera works early on, maybe even in the Boy Scouts! But there was no concept of what you could do with it. Seeing the work of Winogrand or Friedlander was like the proverbial light going on. The fact that you could say something profound about the world through photographs was a life-changing revelation. RW: That’s a bold leap to make right out of the box, from the Scouts to understanding a Winogrand or Friedlander photograph. PG: Well there were a few years between the two! I wouldn’t claim to understand everything about Winogrand’s work, though essays like Tod Papageorge’s in Public Relations are wonderful reading for anyone who cares about photography. 18 photo-eye Fall 2007

One of the great things about this medium is that you don’t need to have an academic degree to get it; photography can be so visceral, it cuts right through language that way. RW: Did you go out and try to take Eggleston pictures? PG: Well, yes and no. (Laughs.) The Kerouac idea of the great open road doesn’t translate that well to the United Kingdom. It’s not that big. What I took was an amalgam of Eggleston and Robert Adams, and put that together with the classic British obsession with Social Critique. It became my own mash-up. RW: Did you realize that you could have a career? PG: A “career”—God no! Sadly I belong to that naïve alternative culture of the 70s that rejected “careers.” I did what most UK musicians and would-be rock stars did: I went on the dole. Oh, and I worked Saturdays in an arts bookshop, which meant I could order anything I wanted. We had these amazing titles: New Topographics catalogs, Robert Adams’ The New West, early Ed Ruscha books, etc. We never managed to sell any of them—they were eventually remaindered for 50 cents. RW: But if you’re going to travel to Europe and Japan you must have figured out ways to support yourself. PG: You sleep on friend’s floors. I traveled in an old Mini— the original Mini—and I slept in the back of that for a long time. I ate in truck drivers’ cafes. I had a friend who found out-of-date film for me. Then you do some teaching and get a small grant. The documentary-style tradition is very strong in England. Eventually I met up with Martin Parr, Chris Killip, Graham Smith, John Davis. Then my first book, A-1 The Great North Road, came out in 1983. It was a journey along the main artery of the UK, much like Alec Soth did with the Mississippi recently. Large format, color, landscapes, portraits, buildings, etc. The book proved quite poisonous to that black-and-white tradition. It’s been forgotten how radical it was to work within the social documentary tradition in color, at that time. Now it’s so commonplace, people wonder what the issue was. Within four years I published three books: A1, Beyond Caring and Troubled Land. But by 1987, I could see this juggernaut of color documentary photography in England; it had really taken off. Martin Parr switched to color, so did people like Tom Wood, and then our students, like Paul Seawright or Richard Billingham too. But I felt it was time to move on from that, before it became exhausted. For example, the mixing of landscape with war photography in Troubled Land was striking and quite successful—I had shows in NYC galleries—but what happens is that you hit this resonant note and everyone wants you to repeat it. I was invited to duplicate Troubled Land in Israel and South Africa. Commissions, dollars, travel, the whole nine yards. But I thought, I can’t do


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ABOUT OUR COVER

this. For better or worse, I’m one of those artists who once something is “proven,” have to drop it and find another way to scare myself. RW: So you went to Europe? PG: In the early to mid-80s I had made friends with a group of German photographers who were quite distinct from the Bechers’ Düsseldorf school. They were mostly around EssenBerlin: Volker Heinze, Joachim Brohm, Gosbert Adler and Michael Schmidt too, who was running these workshops in Berlin and inviting people like John Gossage and Lewis Baltz to come over. RW: It’s funny that school is so unknown here. Michael Schmidt even had a one-man show at MoMA. PG: Yes, a great show and few remember it. It’s as though the Gursky show wiped out people’s understanding of everything else in Germany. Gursky is much more accessible. He goes for the jugular because it is about “the great photograph.” Of course, he succeeds, but it’s recidivist, in a way. Photographers have been trying for years to make bodies of work where images work incrementally to build up a coherent statement. It’s not about one great picture by Robert Adams; it’s about twenty or thirty pictures that build a sensitive, intelligent reflection of the world. It’s the same with Garry Winogrand, or Robert Frank. Gursky brings it back to that “wow” moment. It sort of undoes that way of working, and reduces things to the “What a great shot!” appreciation of photography. I’m a sucker for that as much as anyone, but want people to appreciate what Robert Adams does more so. RW: So you were hanging out with these guys and going back and forth to Europe? PG: I actually lived in England most of the time, but I would go stay with Volker in Essen or visit Michael in Berlin. I lived in Berlin one summer; one photograph in New Europe is inside Michael’s apartment. We all came and went. It was a reciprocal thing. Somehow I went from being part of this English group with Martin Parr et al., to being an honorary member of this German alliance. They became much more influential on my way of working and seeing the world. My work grew quite a bit, as all of ours did in that grouping, and when it was finished, in 1992, I released the book New Europe. That was made for the opening exhibition for the Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland, but the book was never distributed here in the U.S. so it’s not so well known. Gerry Badger insisted it be included in The Photobook II so at least someone saw it! RW: One of the paradoxes of our time, and I’ve discussed this with many people, is this explosion of photography books at the same time as the explosion in new media. Every

photographer has his or her own website and gets their information on-line. And yet they all still want to make books. What is the enduring appeal? PG: John Gossage made a great comment that his books are the original work. It’s the summation of his endeavors—the book is the work. Now, a painter or a sculptor can have a catalogue of their work but … it’s completely different in photography. It is the exact thing—maybe a little smaller scale—but with a one-on-one dialogue when you read it. Looking at a Nan Goldin book is quite different from viewing her photographs on the wall with other people around you. The book is personal and direct, from the artist to you, complete and faithful. RW: That’s true. When you’re looking at images on-line, it’s a much more public experience than with a book. You’re part of a community and reading in a public square when you go to your computer. PG: Yes, you’re right. It’s something I wonder about with A Shimmer of Possibility. Am I diffusing that intimate experience by doing twelve books with Steidl? Or am I taking it to the maximum degree by separating each piece of work into its own volume, allowing each story to have that precious moment of intimacy with you? So much art relies on the confidence transaction. I know this is different, doing ten or twelve books. I know it seems crazy, but I’m asking you to trust me and enjoy this quiet journey. Just slow down and look at this ordinary moment of life. See how beautiful it is, see how life flows around us, how everything shimmers with possibility. A Shimmer of Possibility. Photographs by Paul Graham. Edited by Michael Mack. SteidlMACK, Göttingen, 2007. Designed by Paul Graham and Michael Mack. Printed by Steidl, Göttingen. Softbound books in a clothbound slipcase. Trade edition of 1000 copies. 12 volumes from 8 pp to 64 pp, c. 160 color illustrations, 91⁄2 × 12 1⁄2 $250.00

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PUBLISHER PROFILE

PHOTOGRAPHERS AND PUBLISHERS form the X and Y axes upon which great photobooks are crafted. This column explores the vast continuum of publishers that exists in the world today, from small art presses to mid-size publishers to the large houses that have survived the decades. In this issue we spoke with Deborah Aaronson, executive editor at Abrams, an imprint of Harry N. Abrams, Inc. What is your vision of photography and publishing?

ABRAMS The column that surveys the publishers—one by one— who create the books we love.

Our goal is to be the preeminent publisher of both serious and popular photography. And part of that goal is to marry great photography with subjects that people are passionate about. The traditional photography monograph is difficult to publish these days; the marketplace is very crowded and it’s hard for a book with a modest print run (which these books so often have) to make an impact. So although we still publish monographs, we do so very selectively. In the recent past we’ve published the work of Richard Avedon, Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher, Harry Benson, Ilse Bing, Karl Bissinger, Yann Arthus Bertrand, Gregory Crewdson, Lennart Nilsson, Shawn Mortensen and William Wegman. And we’ve also published photography books about jazz, undersea life, the Burning Man Festival, Japanese sex clubs, African predators and much more. Who do you see as your audience?

We publish for both people who are devoted to and passionate about photography, and also for a more general audience— people who may not necessarily think of themselves as photography aficionados, but who are interested in visual culture or in a particular subject. What quantity of books do you publish per year/season?

Abrams publishes about 85 books a year; approximately 25% of those are photography or photography-related books. How do you acquire new titles?

At the editorial level, it happens in one of two ways. We actively pursue photographers whose work we are interested in. And we’re constantly looking at the work of photographers who contact us directly. What future projects really excite you right now?

(left to right, top to bottom) Gilles Mora, The Last Photographic Heroes Jeffrey Milstein, AirCraft Jim Reed, Storm Chaser Poolside with Slim Aarons A. Leo Nash, Burning Man

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This fall we have a new Slim Aarons book, Poolside with Slim Aarons; The Last Photographic Heroes, an amazing collection of American photographers from the 60s and 70s; Storm Chaser by extreme-weather photographer Jim Reed; Vanishing World, a thought-provoking book about the impact of global warming on the Arctic; Tribes of the Great Rift Valley by renowned photojournalist Elizabeth L. Gilbert; Rock and Roll


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PUBLISHER PROFILE

From AirCraft, by Jeffrey Milstein.

by Lynn Goldsmith; and Americans in Space , a tremendous book about NASA’s first 50 years, with many never-beforeseen photographs. And in the works is a new monograph by Gregory Crewdson, a spectacular Richard Avedon book, and a really fun and sexy book by Richard Kern. What are your submission guidelines?

We’re relatively open to looking at material in different ways: as loose prints, as high-quality color xeroxes, in layouts, or in a book dummy. It is, of course, important for the images to be accompanied by a written proposal that explains what the idea behind the book is, some background information about the photographer, and any other information that might be helpful in making a decision (exhibition plans, etc.). Although we will accept material on disc, it should be accompanied by a printout. Our submission policy is spelled out more fully on our website: www.hnabooks.com. Contact Information:

Deborah Aaronson, daaronson@hnabooks.com To see a list of the publishers to be featured in this column:

www.photoeye.com/templates/PubShowCase_home.cfm

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A1—THE GREAT NORTH ROAD, Paul Graham. Published in 1983 by Grey Editions.

photo eye Bookstore, Gallery, Auctions, Magazine, Juried Online Galleries, Online Photography Book Resource, Website Management and Hosting & (coming soon!) the International Guide to Photography

www.photoeye.com 370 Garcia Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501 tel 505.988.5152


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A Survey of New Books CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: DEBRA KLOMP CHING MARY GOODWIN PHIL HARRIS ANTHONY LASALA LARISSA LECLAIR EUGENIA PARRY AND JOHN PILSON

BOOKS REVIEWED IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE: p. 31 KAYLYNN DEVENEY, THE DAY-TO-DAY LIFE OF ALBERT HASTINGS JERRY SPAGNOLI, DAGUERREOTYPES p. 33 TOD PAPAGEORGE, PASSING THROUGH EDEN p. 34 STEPHEN GILL, BURIED LARS TUNBJÖRK, I LOVE BORÅS! p. 36 JEFFREY FRAENKEL, THE BOOK OF SHADOWS p. 38 BORDER FILM PROJECT p. 39 GREG GIRARD, PHANTOM SHANGHAI p. 40 MATTHEW MONTEITH, CZECH EDEN BJÖRN ABELIN, ESCAPES


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KayLynn Deveney | The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings PHOTOGRAPHS BY KAYLYNN DEVENEY. TEXT AND DRAWINGS BY ALBERT HASTINGS. EDITED BY JENNIFER THOMPSON. Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 2007. Designed by Deb Wood. Trade edition of 3500. Hardbound. 116 pp., 18 black-and-white and 83 four-color illustrations, 61⁄4 × 8 $19.95

The thrill of a secret garden lies in exploring a beauty that is normally hidden from view. In this collaborative visual diary, KayLynn Deveney and Albert Hastings combine text and image to reveal the quiet splendor found in the secret garden of everyday routine. Couched in the delicate colors and soft lighting of Hastings’ apartment in Wales, these photographs document the 85-year-old engaged in seemingly mundane moments, such as pouring tea, tying his shoes, and washing up the dishes. Deveney caresses these tiny events with simple but powerful compositions that transform each act into an oasis of comfort. Whereas routine can be confining to some, Hastings remains the master of his day; he performs the prescribed rituals with the precision and confidence of practice. Unlike Charles Snelling, the subject of Julian Germain’s For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds of Happiness, Albert Hastings seems to be very aware and in control of how he appears in front of the camera; although the moments pictured are intimate and seemingly unposed, Hastings shows himself as he wants to be seen. Hastings’ hand-written notations accompany each of Deveney’s images; his observations, for the most part, underscore the ordinary nature of the events that make up his day. An ambiguous portrait of Hastings could show him deep in contemplation of the universe, but his caption reveals that he is really just listening to the radio. Perhaps the way that his hand crafts these expositions tells a more interesting narrative; sometimes the handwriting is flourished and clear, but other times it is shaky, especially as he writes about being housebound. Individually, Deveney’s photographs seem to have dropped out of time. It does not seem important what day or even year they were taken. However, the rituals that try to ward off time don’t work; time does pass in Hastings’ flat, and as his health deteriorates, images of activity, such as baking scones and playing with pigeons, give way to pictures of more static subjects, such as Hastings watching TV or his hat resting on the back of an armchair. The narrative of the book is punctuated by images of arti-

Page spread from Everyday

facts from his life, such as notes and drawings from a hobby of making clocks, which, like Deveney’s photographs of domestic ritual, refer to time passing according to a measured rhythm. Beyond the privilege of being allowed to glance these private moments, the viewer also feels the sincere warmth of friendship emanating from these pages. As Hastings prepares an afternoon snack, the viewer wishes that the second cup of tea on the table were for her. MARY GOODWIN

Jerry Spagnoli | Daguerreotypes PHOTOGRAPHS AND TEXT BY JERRY SPAGNOLI. Steidl, Göttingen, 2006. Designed by Jerry Spagnoli and Sarah Winter/Steidl Design. Printed by Steidl, Göttingen. Trade edition of 2000 copies. Photo-illustrated stiff wrappers. 56 pp., 112 color illustrations, 11 1⁄2 × 11 1⁄2 $40.00

Making daguerreotypes takes guts. The devotee must brave the tedium, trouble and toxicity of a reputedly temperamental technique; in addition, when you’re working with one of the original pencils of nature, you can’t help but find yourself digging around one of the taproots of the medium. What can you say that can hold a conversation with the patient, saturnine sitters of the 19th century? Jerry Spagnoli is obviously aware of the challenges, technical and conceptual, of daguerreotyping the present world. In fact, he makes a point of using his work as a time capsule, taking old themes and giving them a contemporary spin. The book is made up of four bodies of work and a conceptual state31


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Both images this page from Passing Through Eden, by Tod Papageorge, pp. 19-20.

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ment: residues of the explosions of firecrackers (the conceptual statement); dry landscapes; close-ups of bodies; New York life; and New York as it has been changed by 9/11. Of course, his use of the daguerreotype medium limits his subject matter to relatively bright, slow-moving or immobile scenes, but Spagnoli enlivens his images by overexposing them, which gives them a lovely raft of tones, including pure sky-blue skies. Anyone who has ever tried to describe the look of a daguerreotype, with its elusive, jewel-like detail, will appreciate Steidl’s reproductions, which at least manage to capture the mirrored crispness and inhumanly-precise definition of the polished metal images. Assuming the untitled pictures are more or less in chronological order, one can track the photographer’s process, or rather the photographer’s accommodations to the process. The images start out using the familiar vocabulary of the archive: blotches, scratches, discolorations and the occasional thumbprint. Eventually, the pictures become cuttingly clear and sharp, though the bodily close-ups are made with a minimal depth of field and a maximal optical distortion that recalls the great uncoated lenses of the past. To my mind, these body pictures are the most purely beautiful part of the work, unencumbered by any baggage but the delight in slowing down and discovering. Many of the New York scenes seem to be conscious meditations on the passage of time, juxtaposing the whoosh of moving people with very stationary buildings. The photographs of the flaming Trade Center towers, and the aftermath, signal a change in Spagnoli’s seeing. The philosophical toy we sometimes make of the impermanence of this world suddenly takes on more weight. Perhaps Spagnoli’s choice of the daguerreotype as a form lends his work some of the weight and juice of that taproot after all. PHIL HARRIS

Tod Papageorge | Passing Through Eden TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY TOD PAPAGEORGE. EDITED BY MICHAEL MACK. Steidl, Göttingen, 2007. Designed by Tod Papageorge and Claas Möller. Printed by Steidl, Göttingen. Clothbound with photo-illustrated dustjacket. 176 pp., 105, tritone, 12 × 11 1⁄2 $60.00

Simultaneous with and analogous to what was happening in European cinema, the New York photography scene of the 1960s represented a New Wave. Politics, sexuality, fashion, architecture, visual jokes and street-level allegories all found expression in a retooled vision of photography that drew on a freshly revised picture of photographic tradition via galvanizing

exhibitions organized by John Szarkowski (the Henri Langlois of the scene) and photographers who borrowed and stole their way toward a new language. I always suspected Garry Winogrand took special pleasure in making photographs, literally, down the block from the Museum of Modern Art. Similarly, I would suggest that in making the photographs collected in Passing Through Eden, Tod Papageorge found occasional triggers in his proximity to the older institution: the Metropolitan Museum of Art which juts into the park that he took as intermittent subject for a period of more than twenty years. Regularly locating the ancient in the modern, the work overflows with figures, gestures and allegories playing out against landscapes both apocalyptic and mannered. In All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, Marshall Berman describes Dostoyevsky’s employment of St. Petersburg as “the ideal environment…for the acting out and working out of personal and social conflict.” Likewise, for Papageorge, Central Park exists as an ideal narrative space. While a few pictures are made before “the summer of love” the work is shot through with “after the Fall” observations in which inner experience and political fallout are never far apart. Acutely observed moments of sexuality and alienation reminiscent of Antonioni’s masterpiece L’Eclisse (pp. 19–20) give way to narratives which are incomparably photographic, a form of storytelling entirely unique to the medium (see pp. 78–79). “Photograph someone doing something to someone else.” This, according to Papageorge, was the only “assignment” he ever heard Winogrand give his students. Moments of physical intimacy, poignant distances and voyeurism flood the pages of this book. In the sequencing, nature, eroticism, isolation and breakdown continually trade place and mutually inform. The sexual revolution contends with ambiguous and predatory sexuality, the park bench becomes stage for innumerable transactions, encounters and mysteries. In this type of theater, sentimentality haunts the margins yet the few missteps (involving musical instruments and babies) are quickly absorbed into the greater complexities and darker undercurrents of the project. Papageorge’s Passing Through Eden is a sprawling, archly poetic work that ranks among the most important publications of American photography since Robert Adams’ What We Bought, from 1996. Like its predecessor, it was formed with the invaluable benefits of hindsight and ordered according to guiding principles that may not have been part of the groundwork, yet were essential for the completion. While other photographers of his generation are currently being revisited, cataloged and anthologized, Papageorge, without a hint of nostalgia, has managed to assemble an original and unnervingly timely first book. JOHN PILSON 33


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From Buried, by Stephen Gill

Stephen Gill | Buried TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEPHEN GILL. Nobody, London, 2006. Designed by Melanie Mues. Edition of 750. Paper-wrapped boards in cardstock slipcase. 32 pp., 294 color illustrations and one C-print, 5 1⁄2 × 7 3⁄4 $80.00

It’s not often that the first thing you notice about a published book of photographs is its aroma. Sure, there are certain publications that have that “new book smell” or that “hot off the presses” scent, but the robust tang coming from a copy of Stephen Gill’s Buried, a diminutive 5x7 monograph, is noticeably curious, hinting at freshly cultivated topsoil with just a trace of compost and other hearty-scented fertilizers. And with that simple olfactory introduction, you know you are not holding your average photobook. But of course, Stephen Gill is not your average photographer. Gill is a British artist who has earned accolades for his books (most of which, like Hackney Wick and Invisible, have been limited-edition, self-published titles under the Nobody imprint) and quirky projects that draw attention to the disregarded—subjects like the backs of billboards, museum guards, and roadside workers. With his recent publication Buried (which really is covered in caked-on dirt), his inquisitive 34 photo-eye Fall 2007

nature takes him, or in this case his photographs, to the underground. Literally. Using images he captured in his favorite neighborhood of Hackney Wick in East London, Gill buried the photos in various places in the area, at varying depths, and left them underground for different lengths of time, depending on rainfall. He also buried some together, back to back or facing each other, while others were put in the ground unaccompanied. The content of the images, something that really takes a back seat in Buried, remains typical Gill: straightforward snaps that cast a spotlight on the banal; residents and pets staring off into the distance; plant-life surviving in environments dominated by man; discarded apples on concrete paths; people wandering through the landscape. Of course what eventually happened to the images is what’s most important. The results of the experiment varied. When excavated, some of these accelerated time capsules remained largely unaltered, with only hints of speckled dirt surrounding the images. Others were exceedingly distorted and disintegrated, with swaths of psychedelic discolorations marking the majority of the photograph. What naturally separates the book from Gill’s other endeavors is the clever scheme behind the project—the thrill of anticipating, learning and studying the outcome of the earth and its elements taking on the form of a primordial Photoshop. But for me, I can’t shake the feeling that there is something about this undertaking and this proposal that harkens back to our days as children—moments when we were young and reveling in the endless amounts of time we had to probe and pry and interact with the world around us. Testing the laws of nature. Examining the mysterious. Being mischievous for the pure fun of it. In the hands of someone else, this idea may have focused too heavily on the underlying psychological aspects of the act of “burial,” stripping away the simple entertainment of it all. Not with Gill. He just goes along for the ride. As he writes in the brief introduction, “Not knowing what an image would look like once it was dug up introduced an element of chance and surprise which I found appealing. This feeling of letting go and in a way collaborating with place—allowing it also to work on putting the finishing touches to a picture—felt fair. Maybe


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the spirit of the place can also make its mark.” Gill’s curiosity, his time spent analyzing the unseen, is a huge reason (along with his sense of humor) why his books and images remain interesting. His inquiring spirit goes even further here—and while the resulting images are not going to astonish and amaze, my guess is you will be inspired by the playful magic of it all. At the very end of the book is an actual print from Gill that is encased in an envelope with the words “Bury Your Own” typed on it. I suggest getting your hands on two copies of the book. One to save forever wrapped in plastic, and the other for doing just what Gill tells you to do. Go ahead. Bury it. You know you want to. ANTHONY LASALA

Lars Tunbjörk | I Love Borås! Steidl, Göttingen, 2007. Designed by Greger Ulf Nilson. Printed by Steidl. Photo-illustrated boards in cardstock slipcase. 168 pp., 175 color illustrations, 13 1⁄2 × 10 3⁄4 $90.00

Sweden: land of Volvos and Ikea, political neutrality and socialized medicine. Blonde people, Nobel prizes, sanity— right? Ah, ignorance is bliss. But Lars Tunbjörk knows better, and he wants to show you just what Swedes are capable of— which turns out to be wacky, manic and sad, by turns. One thing the people in Borås, Tunbjörk’s home town, know how to do is shop. The alienation of the big box, the inconvenience of the convenience store, and the vacancy of the gas station are

all alive and well in Tunbjörk’s world. Quite a few Swedes seem to spend their time awkwardly bending over, grabbing for bargains, posing in front of home tanning devices, hawking stuff, or wandering around exhausted and bewildered, just like us. It’s a relief to see people occasionally embrace, finding each other somehow in the blaring meaninglessness. Though the photographer spends the bulk of his time in incredibly garishly colored interiors, he occasionally slips out to observe a parking lot, and now and then even some woods. These are the most spacious moments in the book, and have the effect of startling the viewer with their starkness and quietude. But before we get started asking embarrassing questions, it’s back to the melee, whether it’s close-ups of the unrecognizable entries in a hautecuisine food competition, glimpses of unsettling nationalistlooking rallies, or images of conformity doused in Coca-Cola, Cheez Doodles, instant taco mix and cakes in the form of icing-bedecked photo-realistic pig heads. To one of his countrymen, Tunbjörk’s work might convey a different message; my take on his book is that it aims, by way of Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander and Crazy Eddie on neon, to take on meaty issues through a scrim of humor: conformity, the emptiness of the consumer way of life, the infantilization and search for instant answers that define much of current Western culture. Or, it could be that I’ve completely missed the mark, and that Tunbjörk is simply sending a love letter to the simple life lived by the salt of the earth who inhabit the humble town of his birth. But I doubt it. PHIL HARRIS

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The Book of Shadows EDITED WITH INTRODUCTION BY JEFFREY FRAENKEL. Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, 2007. Designed by Katy Homans. Printed by Trifolio, Verona. Clothbound with tipped-on photo-illustration. 124 pp., 91 black-and-white illustrations, 7 1⁄2 × 9 3⁄4 $45.00

Snapshots, by nature, are neither mysterious nor rare. After George Eastman introduced the “Brownie” in 1888, anyone who could hold a camera snapped these artless little pictures, right and left. They witnessed, by the billions, every conceivable moment of personal history—new house, car, or baby, cherished pet, birthday, beautiful girlfriend, a tree, a harvest, a friendship. Some were treasured and put into albums. Most ended up in the garbage. The collector’s passion is a peculiar kind of intelligence that has always stimulated photographic inquiry. Jeffrey Fraenkel found countless snapshots in flea markets and secondhand stores. They intrigued him because of something we’ve all noticed: when the sun was behind the photographer, it cast the shadow (of the photographer’s head, torso or entire figure) which invaded the shot. People standing near the shooter often showed up too. Photography chooses. It includes and excludes. Photographers, classically marginal, are supposed to “stay out of it.” Fraenkel may call the shadows “mistakes,” but in collecting them, he has acknowledged their dramatic beauty and influence. The shadow-photographer becomes a player. Joining his subject, he completely changes its meaning. This poetic transformation is the subject of Fraenkel’s book. He skillfully edited his 2,000 shadow snapshots down to 88 in a sumptuous, night-blue suede volume, imaginatively designed by Katy Homans. Fraenkel’s brief introduction doesn’t need to interpret the images. His selections and sequencing say everything. The glory of Fraenkel’s selection is its emotional range. The reader is led to explore unconsidered layers of the photographic psyche, always erotic, in that strange collaboration between subject and renderer. What exactly is a “mistake” where the psyche is concerned? The photographer’s invasive presence turns an ordinary snapshot into a drama, an object of mystery, a puzzle. Many images are so artfully choreographed that what might seem like inadvertency or oversight becomes more like a wish, the desire to enter and belong. The so-called silent witness may shoot the subject, but his shadow speaks and collaborates. The Book of Shadows explicitly teaches how photographic seeing may touch our deepest feelings. Every image in the book expresses some version of love, wonder, longing, pride and tenderness. The snapshot, lowly and banal: we’ll never look at it in the same way again. EUGENIA PARRY


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Border Film Project: Migrant & Minutemen Photos from the U.S.-Mexico Border TEXT BY RUDY ADLER, VICTORIA CRIADO, AND BRETT HUNEYCUTT. EDITED BY DEBORAH AARONSON. Harry N. Abrams, New York, 2007. Designed by karlssonwilker. Printed by Elegance Printing and Book Binding, Hong Kong. Die-cut hardcover. 176 pp., 150 four-color illustrations, 6 1⁄4 × 8 1⁄2 $22.95

Border Film Project examines the dangerous game that takes the place of a meaningful, effective immigration policy between Mexico and the United States. Adler, Criado and Huneycutt distributed cameras to illegal crossers and amateur border patrollers and asked both groups to document their side of the issue as they experience it. The resultant series of images, culled from more than 2,000 pictures, exposes the gravity of the situation at our border and asks us to re-examine what we think we know about illegal immigration. The first interior spread of the book makes it quite clear why the crossers take the potentially fatal risk of breaching the border; as a man reclines in a very modest, dirt-floor room, the caption explains, “Here you earn enough for sugar, the basics, nothing more. There, they say, you can earn enough for tomorrow.” Later images, such as one of a woman with feet rubbed raw from the trip, depict the high price paid for following this path to the American Dream. Similar spreads reveal the equally vital motivations of the Minutemen and defy their stereotyped depiction as vigilantes; portraits of men and women watching the horizon for crossers accompany patriotic words about defending the country and enforcing its laws. The book alternates between views from the crossers and patrollers; the pictures are as diverse as the multiple photographers who made them. Many of the images have the haphazard feel of pictures taken on the 38 photo-eye Fall 2007

fly, sometimes at strange moments in the process, like parents remembering to take a picture or two in the delivery room. Others are so poignant, they seem staged. For example, one photograph shows an American couple negotiating with two crossers; this image and its caption about the dollars and cents of hiring illegal immigrant labor seem to encapsulate the complex social, racial, and economic dynamics at play along the border. While our elected representatives posture and bang gavels, the border between these two nation states remains a life-ordeath dividing line between multiple hopes, aspirations, and expectations. Border Film Project offers no practical, concrete suggestions for solving the border dilemma. The book does, however, make clear why we must have the courage to confront this issue: the face of the child on the book’s back cover may be all you need to know. MARY GOODWIN


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Greg Girard | Phantom Shanghai PHOTOGRAPHS BY GREG GIRARD. FOREWORD BY WILLIAM GIBSON. ESSAY BY LEO RUBINFIEN. EDITED BY DOUG WALLACE, GABE GONDA, CRAIG D’ARVILLE & MICHAELA CORNELL. The Magenta Foundation, Toronto, 2007. Designed by the office of Gilbert Li. Printed by Oceanic Graphic Printing. Hardcover with photo-illustrated dustjacket. Trade edition of 3000. 240 pp., 120 color illustrations, 10 × 12 1⁄2 $50.00

Phantom Shanghai is an intriguing publication. It presents a stunning urban vista of a city undergoing change at such a rate that if you blink, you might just miss it. As its title alludes, the transitory façade of the city is enveloped in a phantasmagoria—of feudal, colonialist and Communist pasts, underscored by its fast-growing capitalism. These images are a testimony to the single-minded determination on the part of the People’s Republic of China to transform Shanghai into its own unique version of a 21st-century metropolis, at speed and, possibly, at whatever the cost. Greg Girard lives in Shanghai and has been photographing its rapid transformation since 1998. As with his project City of Darkness, which documented the final years of the Kowloon

Walled City, he seems to be most interested in capturing periods of flux and transition. With this body of work, he presents a vivid study of the point at which old and new butt up against each other in a most spectacular way. Photographically, this is a book that takes you on an adventure of visual and imaginative delight. Saturated in color and imbued with light that enthralls, Girard’s photographs have such a satisfyingly magical quality, that they’re almost poetic. Hues of pink, blue, green and orange leap out from the pages and pull you willingly in. It’s a book that you want to live with—the shabby half-torn-down buildings are strangely mesmerizing. Isolated in clearings or surrounded by rubble, they stand proud, the underbelly of their construction visible. What we also see is not only the disappearance of the last vestiges of a long-ruined architecture, but also the demise of the communities and culture that existed behind their walls, amongst the alleys and within their courtyards. The omnipresence of Shanghai’s people pervades the images so quietly that you might be fooled into thinking them not there at all. The glowing light that emanates from these last vestiges of pre-21st-century Shanghai signals their continued occupancy even amid the destruction. As a documentarian, Girard crosses the threshold and provides us with a peek at what lies beyond. Everyday life is still in full swing—shoes for sale, dishes piled in the sink of a shared kitchen, beds neatly made in modest rooms, thermoses piled high on a bike, melons filling a floor awaiting preparation and so on, even as the bulldozers move in. What’s surprisingly absorbing about this book is that it is not 39


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at all nostalgic. It does not mourn loss, but rather, quite honestly and objectively, documents a very particular moment in time— perhaps what we see here is a portion of Shanghai’s future history. How fabulous that Greg Girard has so perceptively provided us with such a sumptuous record. DEBRA KLOMP CHING

Matthew Monteith | Czech Eden

for anything inherently Czech. To use the words of Ivan Klíma from the introductory essay, “[Monteith] portrays only those elements that express his own view of today’s world. These photographs do not summon up a Czech Eden … instead they capture in an original, personal, and effective way the feelings of modern man in a world that will always be alien to him. As a pilgrim, he remains most of the time isolated within it.” Monteith began his pilgrimage to this area of Eastern Europe in the 1990s, at a time when Prague was the new Paris, a bohemian paradise. Intrigued by vernacular postcards of the 1920s and 1930s that characterized a superficial reality of pure bliss, yet laced with dark undertones, he kept returning and finally stayed for a prolonged period of time as a Fulbright scholar in 2001. Perhaps he was searching for this postcard ideal or even the bohemian American ideal in the Czech Republic; looking at Monteith’s photographs, it seems he found neither. Instead, what is presented are the faces and landscapes of a newly democratic country. There is no obvious inner peace nor paradise found in these images, but rather, to this writer, a palpable sadness. The individualism of modernity inevitably brings with it freedoms intermixed with alienation. In Slapy, for example, a man, a woman and a baby are all barely clothed as they stand together in placid water. The couple’s resolute but distant expressions—the man’s particularly, whose pose pushes him even further away from the viewer—express the theme of disconnection and isolation. The mother, as vulnerable and placid as the water, stands to face … what? Modernity? Technology? The future? Perhaps only uncertainty, while the face of the baby is hidden. In Czech Eden, Monteith offers us an apple from the Tree of Knowledge. Shattered from an innocent fiction, we wake up to a truth—a present reality that, in the midst of technological and social progress, has shades of emptiness. LARISSA LECLAIR

TEXT BY IVAN KLIMA. EDITED BY MICHAEL FAMIGHETTI. Aperture, New York, 2007. Designed by Andrew Sloat. Printed by Mondadori, Italy. Paper over boards with photoillustrated duskjacket. 80 pp., 58 color illus., 11 × 9 1⁄2 $40.00

In this, his first monograph, Matthew Monteith weaves together a conceptual narrative of truths to represent themes of isolation in postmodern society. His work is not a document of the Czech Republic, nor is it necessarily a symbol 40 photo-eye Fall 2007

Björn Abelin | Escapes TEXT BY ULF ERIKSSON. EDITED BY GÖSTA FLEMMING. Journal, Stockholm, 2007. Designed by Anders Schmidt. Printed by EBS, Verona, Italy. Edition of 1000 copies, and a limited edition of 15 copies. Clothbound with photo-illustrated dustjacket. 56 pp., 21 black-and-white illustrations, 15 1⁄2 × 12 $85.00

Abelin has called his slim collection of grainy black-and-white landscapes Escapes. Why? Shot in anonymous locations in Europe, the pictures mostly follow similar pictorial conventions. Sun (or at least hard contrast) predominates, though the


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From Escapes, by BjĂśrn Abelin

tonal scale, grain and color might remind you of whole wheat bread, with the occasional ragged chunk of bran. There is an earnestness, a sense of looking for the sacred, perhaps, and also a midnight-sun darkness that tells you that the photographer is from northern Europe (think Bill Brandt, or Thomas Joshua Cooper, blended up with a dash of Gustave Le Gray). The landscapes are devoid of people, but most of them bear traces of human alteration; this is not a book about wilderness. What the pictures have in common is a sense of near-infinite space, which is achieved, often, by restricting the depth of field or twisting the film plane (they sure look like film pictures) in order to delimit where our eyes can focus. The effect is of sudden, probing glances. Repeated viewing leads one to the conclusion that Abelin is less interested in what he, and we, are looking at, than the feeling of boundless reach. Almost without exception, no matter how thorny or interwoven the land may appear, our eyes are ultimately directed toward some sliver of sky, a far-off horizon. Abelin’s images leave an impression of the long trudge that life can seem, at times. Now and then, the pictures are painfully

brightened by a patch of uncompromising light. Though nature (or art made from our perception of nature) can provide a respite from our ills, Abelin seems ambivalent. His vision teeters at the point where true mutual recognition between opinionated human sensibility and the pragmatism of the non-human world come face to face. Whether escape is possible, or even desirable, is left up to us to decide. PHIL HARRIS

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FEATURES

IN THE INTRODUCTION TO ON THE BEATEN TRACK,

ROOTED TO PLACE Lucy R. Lippard’s career seen through a lifetime of books. Interview by MARY ANNE REDDING

Lucy Lippard has written: “Photography and public art operate most effectively in the gap between art and life where I too like to work.” A self-proclaimed rubbernecker since she was a child, Lippard looks longingly at the world, particularly the world of art and the place of art within the world, which leads her ultimately back to place, with or without art. “Place for me is the locus of desire. Places have influenced my life as much as, perhaps more than, people. I fall for (or into) places faster and less conditionally than I do for people.” And having looked with a lover’s eyes, she writes about what it is she sees. As photography is, ultimately, also about seeing and recording, not with words but with light, it seems natural to compile a bibliography of books that Lucy Lippard has written or contributed to that contain her musings on photography, photographers, artists who use photography in their creative work and activists for whom the image is important. Lippard also makes pictures, although I suspect she would not call herself a photographer; many of her books contain quite nice images she has made to accompany her text. Not that Lippard hasn’t ruminated much on other things in addition to the photographic; she has for many years written and lectured nationally on issues of place, public art, environmental art, as well as about feminist, Native, Hispano and Latino artists. She has also received for her words and critical thinking a Guggenheim fellowship, two NEA grants, and the College Art Association’s Mather Award for Art Criticism, as well as honorary doctorates from the Moore College of Art, the San Francisco Art Institute, the Massachusetts College of Art and the Maine College of Art. The Smithsonian Archives of American Art is the major repository for her professional papers. And, what Lippard considers one of her major achievements, she is the founding editor of the community newsletter El Puente de Galisteo, published monthly in her hometown of Galisteo, New Mexico, where she lives in a small house, “off the grid,” with lots of windows and little wall space, in the Galisteo Basin about thirty minutes southwest of Santa Fe. She moved there in 1993, choosing the wide-open spaces of the Southwest over the canyons of New York City. Lippard’s primary focus now is of the politics of this one small place she calls home—Galisteo (population 265)—with its tricultural geography, multiple histories, languages and religions, and the politics and aesthetics of open space, and land and water issues that have a universal importance. What follows is a synopsis of brief conversations shared on the phone and through letters over a period of several months. A BRIEF CONVERSATION WITH LUCY R. LIPPARD

Mary Anne Redding: In your essay on Kathy Vargas, you state, “Vargas is an activist in life and contemplative in art, like Ad Reinhardt, the creator of great dark paintings that exude light against all odds, who like Vargas, was a fierce fighter for progressive causes beyond the frame of his art.” How can fine art photography be put to use in an activist’s life in ways that stratify both “personal and social implications”? 42 photo-eye Fall 2007


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Lucy Lippard: I don’t distinguish between fine art and any other photography. Some photojournalism, even some snapshots, are far more interesting both aesthetically and content-wise than some so-called higher forms. Conceptual artists in the late 60s, following Ed Ruscha’s lead, not only made this clear, but made it an issue. And of course a lot of contemporary fine art is “photographic” (video, installations, etc.) rather than “photography” per se. An activist artist chooses whether to use her/his art directly or obliquely in the service of his/her political ideals or opinions. 43


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Obviously, if the work is too oblique and too personal, communication is sacrificed, and with it, the activist intent. And any one artist—like Kathy Vargas—can code her work differently, with some pieces combining personal and social implications and others focusing on one or the other. MR: In your opinion, what role should photography play in contemporary society? LL: Photography plays an increasingly ambiguous role in contemporary society. Photographic “truth” has long been questioned since photographs could be doctored and/or insidiously recaptioned or just decontextualized. It has also been pointed out (by James Faris in Navajo and Photography, for instance) that photography is the “Western Eye” and its colonial vision of the Other should be avoided at all costs. But, with the advent of digital technologies, “lies” are so easy that nothing is believable any more. So all photogra44 photo-eye Fall 2007

phy—for better or worse—enters the art realm of “creativity” rather than “fact.” That said, photography is still aligned with “reality” more than any other medium, still considered believable even by those who have theorized it out of reality. So it carries with it a responsibility to be as truthful as possible within a medium so easily and infinitely manipulable. On the other hand, precisely because of this flexibility or malleability, photography continues to be a terrific tool for activist art, especially photomontage, a favorite of political artists for years, which allows the confrontation of different realities or viewpoints, not to mention humor, always a sharp political weapon. MR: You served as an honorary board member and faculty for the Photography Institute. You have also been involved with the Society for Photographic Education over the years. Why is it important to you to be involved with these and other


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photographic organizations and projects—particularly those with educational missions? LL: I can’t claim to have been very involved in either the SPE or the Photography Institute, though I admire what they do or did. All I’ve contributed is a lecture here and there. I’m a freelance writer, not an academic, and most of the organizations I’ve really worked for are ground level and activist artist oriented. MR: How do you think photographs identify place as opposed to landscape? LL: Photographs identify place as opposed to landscape when they are contextualized. A specific landscape is a place, whereas a generic landscape remains a picture. Specific places are best identified photographically by serial or sequential images and of course by captions that make clear where we are, and when, and perhaps even why. This isn’t necessarily a value judgment, but it is a difference. MR: What photography books have been important to you and that remain on your bookshelves? These can be with books of images or critical writings. LL: I have hundreds of photo books on my bookshelves and I have a subscription to Afterimage. MR: You have written about individual photographers and included photography extensively in books such as The Lure of the Local, On the Beaten Track, Mixed Blessings, etc… When you write about photography, who do you consider your audience to be? LL: The importance of any image or essay varies according to what I’m working on at the moment. I’ve learned about photography from so many artists and writers I wouldn’t presume to pick out a few. I don’t write about photography as such; I tend to write about content and look for work that is headed in the same direction I’m going. The audience is whomever picks up the book, magazine, catalogue and is willing to plow through it. MR: You gave a significant portion of your “non-collection” to the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe. Are there any photographs you kept for yourself? What are they and what photographs do you live with? LL: I gave virtually all the art people had given me over the years to the New Mexico Museum of Art when I moved here in 1993, but things continue to appear. One reason I gave all that stuff away is that I have a very small house with a lot of windows and no wall space. I move things around a lot. At the moment there is a handsome picture of my parents in the 1930s on a Maine porch, taken by my uncle Charles Langmuir, who was a very good amateur photographer; there’s a tiny Kathy Vargas work print, one of her bones and Milagros; a small Deborah Luster of a Louisiana prisoner; a Michelle Stuart piece that combines photographs

of Avebury (the megalithic site in England) with paper rubbed with chalky dirt from the site; two panoramic photos of the Galisteo Basin and a neighboring stone wall, and a group of us singing at a community Christmas party—all by Richard Shuff. Also a panoramic black-and-white photo of an unremarkable low mountain landscape that came from a flea market; no one has ever figured out where it was taken. Another panorama from the 1930s is a long line of dancers from Ohkay Owingeh. Finally, a larger piece—of Havana in a blackout—by Andrea Robbins and Max Becher. In the guest room there’s a wall of family photos over several generations, Jerry Kearns’ Broken Promises/Active Resistance, a big print of the old Galisteo bridge in the snow by Nick Trofimuk, photos of Ladakh and Galisteo by Caroline Hinkley, and a little color image of a western dam, which, I’m ashamed to say, was sent to me by someone whose name is not on it and I don’t remember who did it…. In the pile of about-to-be-framed-and-rotated-in, is one of Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie’s sarcastically captioned digital prints of Navajoland and a Zig Jackson, and some other things. Not hanging, but very much on my mind are Ed Ranney’s stunningly subtle black-and-white work prints of Galisteo Basin archaeological sites; we’re working on a book together. And my workroom is plastered with all kinds of images— grandchildren, family, postcards, aerial maps and whatever. One image that’s usually in view is a portrait of Samson, Frances Louise and Leah Beaver by Mary Schaffer—which inspired my book Partial Recall: Photographs of Native North Americans. In this amazingly messy room, where I spend much of my time, the role of memory—so well served by photography and so often discussed in the literature—comes fully into play. Wow, I didn’t realize I had so many photographs crammed in here....

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A SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY OF BOOKS BY LUCY R. LIPPARD Artists’ Books: A Critical Anthology and Sourcebook. Edited by Joan Lyons. Chapters by Lucy Lippard, Shelley Rice, Alex Sweetman and others. Layton, Utah, 1985. Brush Fires in the Social Landscape. Photographs by David Wojnarowicz. Critical profile by Lucy Lippard. New York, 1995. Commodity Character. Photographs and text by Paul Rutkovsky. Rochester, NY, 1982. Defining Eye: Women Photographers of the Twentieth Century. Selections from the Helen Kornblum Collection. Numerous contributing photographers. Text by Olivia Lahs-Gonzales, Lucy Lippard and Martha Sandweiss. Saint Louis, 1997. A Different War. Vietnam in Art. Text by Lucy Lippard. Including works by Philip Jones Griffiths, Sue Coe, Nancy Spero and Claes Oldenburg. Seattle, 1990. Inverted Odysseys. Claude Cahun, Maya Deren, Cindy Sherman. Photographs by Claude Cahun, Cindy Sherman and Maya Deren. Text by Shelley Rice. Cambridge, 1999. Kathy Vargas. Photographs, 1971–2000. Photographs by Kathy Vargas. Text by Lucy Lippard and MaLin Wilson-Powell. Austin, 2001. Living Shrines: Home Altars of New Mexico. Marie Romero Cash, Siegfried Halus and Lucy R. Lippard. 1998. The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society. Text by Lucy Lippard. New York, 1997. Manual: Errant Arcadia. by E. Earle, Lucy R. Lippard and James E. Hill. Houston Artists Fund, 2003. Markings: Sacred Landscapes from the Air. Photographs by Marilyn Bridges. Preface by Haven O’More. Essays by Maria Reiche, Charles Gallenkamp, Lucy Lippard and Keith Critchlow. New York, 1986. Meridel Rubenstein: Belonging. Los Alamos to Vietnam. Photographs by Meridel Rubenstein. Essays by Lucy Lippard, Rebecca Solnit and James Crump. Introduction by Terry Tempest Williams. St. Ann’s Press, Los Angeles, 2004. Mixed Blessings. New Art in a Multicultural America. Text by Lucy Lippard. Westminster, 1990. Moments of Grace: Spirit in the American Landscape. (Aperture Issue #150) Edited by Thomas Bridges. Text by Bill McKibben, Mary Oliver, Tony Hiss and Lucy Lippard. Nuevo México Profundo: Rituals of an Indo-Hispano Homeland. Text by Helen Lucero, Ramon Gutierrez and Lucy Lippard. Photographs by Miguel Gandert. Santa Fe, 2000. On the Beaten Track: Tourism, Art and Place. Text by Lucy R. Lippard. New York, 1999. Overlay: Contemporary Art and the Art of Prehistory. Text by Lucy R. Lippard. New York: Pantheon Books, 1983. Partial Recall: Photographs of Native North Americans. Edited and introduced by Lucy R. Lippard. Temple University Press, 1993. The Pink Glass Swan. Selected Feminist Essays on Art. Text by Lucy R. Lippard. Photographs and artwork by numerous contributors. New York, 1995. Poetics of Space. A Critical Photographic Anthology. Edited by Steve Yates. Foreword by Dore Ashton. Albuquerque, 1995. Reframings. New American Feminist Photographies. Edited by Diane Neumaier. Photographs by numerous artists. Essays by Abigail SolomonGodeau, Lucy Lippard and others. Philadelphia, 1995. The Transportation of Place. Photographs by Andrea Robbins and Max Becher. Essays by Maurice Berger and Lucy Lippard. New York, 2006.

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OUT THERE, HIDDEN Personal and public identity lies at the heart of the photographic projects of TARYN SIMON. In her newest book, she surveys those places that are fundamentally American and yet inaccessible to the public.

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AN AMERICAN INDEX of the Hidden and Unfamilar is the newest body of work from a young photographer that has already captured national attention. In 2003, Simon published The Innocents (Umbrage Editions), a group of photographs that documented cases of wrongful conviction in the United States, and consisted of straightforward portraits of former convicts, each of whom had been proven innocent through DNA testing. Most of the wrongfully convicted had been misidentified by witnesses. In this new body of work, the sites identified by the lengthy captions rarely receive witnesses or visitors of any kind. While many of them are controversial and inaccessible, the vast majority are also integral to national identity, thus raising a slew of questions. Salman Rushdie writes the foreword, excerpted below. “‘Our interest’s on the dangerous edge of things,’ the poet Robert Browning wrote in Bishop Blougram’s Apology (1855). It’s a line that has inspired writers from Graham Greene, who said in his 1971 memoir A Sort of Life that it could serve as an epigraph to all his novels, to Orhan Pamuk, who sets it at the beginning of his novel Snow. It could equally well serve as an introduction to the photography of a woman whose aesthetic is one of stretching the limits of what we are allowed to see and know, of going to the ambiguous boundaries where dangers—physical, intellectual, even moral—may await. She doesn’t think twice about entering the mountain cave of a hibernating black bear and her cubs, or a room filled with nuclear waste capsules glowing blue with radiation that, were you not shielded against it, would kill you in seconds. Taryn Simon has seen the Death Start and lived to tell the tale… “How do you get into some of the world’s most secret places, and get out again with the picture? The great journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski says that he survives the world’s most dangerous war zones by making himself seem small and unimportant, not worthy of keeping out, not worthy of the warlord’s bullet. But Simon doesn’t deal in stolen images; these are formal, highly realized, often carefully posed pictures, which require their subjects’ full cooperation. That she has managed to gain such open access to, for example, the Church of Scientology and MOUNT, an inaccessible simulated city in Kentucky used, for training purposes, as an urban battlefield, and the Imperial Office of the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan with its Wizards and Nighthawks and Kleagles, looking like characters from a Coen Brothers movie ... is evidence that her powers of persuasion are at least the equal of her camera skills. In a historical period in which so many people are making such great efforts to conceal the truth from the mass of the people, an artist like Taryn Simon is an invaluable counter-force.”


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Page 51: Nuclear Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility, Cherenkov Radiation Hanford Site, U.S. Department of Energy Southeastern Washington State Page 52 and Page 53: The Central Intelligence Agency Main Entrance Hall CIA Original Headquarters Building Langley, Virginia The Central Intelligence Agency, Art CIA Original Headquarters Building Langley, Virginia Page 55: White Tiger (Kenny), Selective Inbreeding Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge and Foundation Eureka Springs, Arkansas

An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar. Photographs by Taryn Simon. Foreword by Salman Rushdie. Commentary by Ronald Dworkin. Essay by Elisabeth Sussman, Christina Kukielski. Text by Taryn Simon, Shannon Simon and Aliza Wattersetty. Steidl/Whitney Museum, Göttingen, 2007. Designed by Joseph Logan and Taryn Simon. Printed by Steidl, Göttingen. Clothbound with debossed boards. 70 pp., 57 four-color illustrations, 10 × 131⁄2 $75.00

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Carla Sozzani and Azzedine Alaia, Paris, 2007

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FEATURES

AN ELEGANT WOMAN AND THE AWKWARD TEENAGER JEN BEKMAN chats it up with Alec Soth, who recently found himself, much to his discomfort, at the center of the attention of the fashion world.

ALEC SOTH IS THE THIRD PHOTOGRAPHER to produce Magnum Photos’ annual Fashion Magazine, following in the formidable footsteps of Martin Parr and Bruce Gilden. Soth’s edition, entitled Paris Minnesota, is a study of contrasts—the pages are populated with high-style Parisians and car-proud Minnesotans alike. The Grand Palais fills up for the Chanel runway show across a gatefold sequence four pages wide. Later in the book, a similar spread is devoted to the ebb and flow of winter snow across a JCPenney parking lot. The launch party in June was a huge one-night-only affair at the Jeu de Paume in Paris. Attendees sipped champagne in galleries hung with nearly 40 large-scale prints of photographs from the magazine. My highly anticipated copy was hand-delivered to me by the man himself, who also took some time to chat with me about photography, fashion and the making of the magazine. Jen Bekman: Everyone’s buzzing about Fashion Magazine and yet I hadn’t heard of it all before you started working on it a few months ago. Suddenly it’s everywhere! Is this edition generating more excitement than previous ones? AS: No, I don’t think so. One of the things about Magnum is that it is an international organization. Since the magazine is produced out of Paris it gets much more attention in Europe ... Martin Parr is an absolute superstar in Europe. I’m always shocked when I meet younger U.S. photographers who don’t know who he is. JB: Right, ok, so U.S. attention then! BLOGGER attention... You’re big on the internet, like being big in Japan but maybe even somewhat more marginal. AS: Yes, big with nerds. JB: Do your online activities influence how the project’s being received? AS: I really don’t think it is a big part of it. I mean, the launch of the magazine had 1,500 people. These were fancy-pants Parisians. I assure you they aren’t 57


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reading about what I had for breakfast on my blog. (Cheerios). JB: Surely you have 1,500 rabid fans who read your blog, not because they want to know what you had for brekkie. AS: But I do know that when I posted the info about the magazine on my blog, my mom ordered six copies. JB: Many people, not just your mom, have bought multiple copies. Yours is the third edition of Fashion Magazine. The first one was done by Martin Parr, the second by Bruce Gilden. Seems like they’re all destined to become collector’s items, if they aren’t already. AS: I don’t know the status of the previous editions, other than that I truly treasure them. Both are fantastic. Vince Aletti said Gilden’s was one of the ten best books of last year. JB: Looking at the three in series, I love seeing the differences in the ways that you’ve each interpreted the project. There’s the underlying coherence, but wildly different interpretations from the size of the mags, to the binding, to the paper, the editorial. So many different choices, and in every instance really spot-on design as well. AS: The designer of all three, Christophe Renard, is really great. He traveled with me on most of the shoots, so he was able to evolve with the project. Each magazine does reflect the author in interesting ways—all three issues are entirely different. That is part of the charm. But the key, the thing that makes it such a great object, is the ads. The fact that one person produces these ads is so funny and strange and contrary to both art and advertising. The thing that kills me is looking at Martin’s ads. I mean, he did all of those on a copy stand in a single afternoon. I had to travel all over creation looking for the perfect light. Totally unfair. JB: How did the advertisers feel about your Where’s Waldo approach to product placement? AS: We went to Brittany to start shooting the ads. I started taking the pictures and had a complete meltdown. I hated the pictures. I remember saying to the art director: “You might as well take the picture. I have no idea what I’m doing.” So we took a break and went to lunch. I suggested the Where’s Waldo idea (something I’d thought about applying to my artwork years ago) and they went for it. So we raced from lunch to the beach in Brittany and took the picture of the watch. We were so excited. But we hadn’t talked to the advertisers or even the person in charge of advertising at Magnum. JB: Hah! Troublemaker. AS: You should have seen the look on his face when I told him the concept. But I said then, and I still believe it now, that this is very good advertising. It engages the viewer. In the show at Jeu de Paume, everyone became like little kids. It was a huge hit. 58 photo-eye Fall 2007

JB: It’s definitely something that’s been widely discussed, whereas otherwise the ads would’ve likely been more glossed over, so to speak. Later in the book, the blow-ups of the products themselves were printed on different paper and have an entirely different feeling. Was that part of the original concept or something introduced to placate advertisers after the fact? AS: At first the blow-ups were an experiment to appease the advertisers. But we did a test and all sort of fell in love with them. It was funny to do a ‘pack shot’, but make it this lowres, unsophisticated thing. It was beautiful. JB: And of course the book is not comprised entirely of advertisements. There are a number of stunning portraits in the magazine—quite clearly your portraits. It’s your eye, your composition, etc. For me, it further blurs the already very blurry line of the difference between editorial and fine art photography. What’s different for you? Aside from the obvious things that have been discussed: process (i.e., assistants vs. working alone) and styling (fashion shoots have specific clothing and stylists.) AS: I don’t entirely know how to answer the question. Clearly a number of the pictures, especially the Paris pictures, have a slightly different feeling. But I have a hard time separating myself from the experience of making them—which was so different. JB: If I were to sequence some of your fashion stuff with some of your personal stuff and show it to someone who doesn’t have context, that viewer might have a hard time differentiating. AS: I think that is especially true of the Minnesota photographs. They really look like my other work, even though many of the kids are wearing designer clothes. JB: In other interviews you talk about “the space between” Paris and Minnesota as a defining vision of the magazine. But, I have to tell you, a lot of those kids are really striking, and probably would be in Paris, too. AS: Right. As I said before, a huge part of my art is the hunt. As with most editorial work, that part of the process was stripped away. So the people I photographed aren’t necessarily the same ones that normally catch my eye. But one of the reasons I like doing this kind of work is that I expand my vision. With this project I started to fall in love with these older Parisian women. Absolutely stunning. JB: Are most of the Parisians actual fashion people or did you cast models too? There are lots of portraits of bold-faced names in there. AS: In the beginning we used a lot of models for those transformation pictures. I really disliked working with models and they were mostly edited out. There are only one or two


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Max and Brandon, Minnesota, 2007

Jane, Paris, 2007

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that we left in the magazine. When we were almost done, we realized that we needed another proper fashion sequence in Paris. They asked me for an opinion. I told them this idea of an older woman (we had already photographed Sonia Rykiel, Fifi, and Farida) and it just fit. The rest of the people are designers and creative types in Paris. JB: And where do they fall on the continuum of models and Minnesotans? Did you find it hard to get them to relax and let down their guards? AS: It is a big mix. The truth is that I don’t love photographing anybody who gets photographed a lot. But sometimes magical things happen. I love a couple of the designer pictures. JB: I also wonder how you relate to those people. One of the most endearing things about you is how unassuming you are. I wonder if there’s any kind of weird dynamic around that contrast. You are many really awesome things, but I wouldn’t count glamorous among them. AS: Ouch. JB: You know I don’t mean that as an insult at all! I’ve definitely been in situations where I’ve been concerned about being taken seriously because I’m not fancy enough. AS: The great thing about not being of that world was that I wasn’t intimidated. If you don’t know who Azzedine is, you won’t be intimidated by him. But, yes, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little self-conscious. I mean, the job of the people in the fashion world is to be able to read people by their appearance. So I know that they are reading me just as much as I’m reading them. JB: With all that in mind, let’s talk about the reception at the Jeu de Paume. Did you wear your mandals to opening night with the Parisians? I saw that you had them on for the installation shots. AS: No, but that brings up a funny story. I was in the airport in Minneapolis waiting for my flight to Paris for the opening. I was wearing my sandals, shorts and a T-shirt. I realized that I was going to be freezing on the plane. So I bought a sweatshirt that said MINNESOTA. On the plane I had the idea of wearing this to the opening. I thought it would be really funny. But the night of the opening was really hot. I didn’t want to be both vulgar and sweaty. JB: What did you end up wearing? I think about having to dress for an event with a bunch of Parisians and I get scared. I’m guessing that you stick with anti-fashion fashion, generally speaking. AS: Here is the thing. I’m really uncomfortable being the center of attention. And I’m uncomfortable using clothes to draw attention to myself. So, as usual, I tried to be neutral. For this opening, neutral meant a black suit, no tie, etc. JB: So, suit and all, the launch was a smashing success—one

champagne-fueled evening and it was done! AS: While it was frustrating that it was one night, it also made it special. People knew that was there only chance, so there was a long of energy that night. It was interesting ... a whole different way to create an event. JB: What’s next, both for the magazine and the exhibition? AS: The magazine was produced in such a frenzy that we didn’t really have time to plan its life after the European launch. So right now we are working on a U.S. launch, exhibitions and so forth. Also, a few of the pictures will work their way into my ongoing series of portraits and favorite miscellaneous pictures. JB: I’m sure there are a lot of people stateside who’d love to see the exhibition in person. What else is on tap for you in the next year? All those people I know who pre-ordered Fashion Magazine seemed to have pre-ordered Dog Days, Bogota too. Is a lot of your energy focused on getting that project done right now? AS: It is funny timing. I feel like an actor with two movies coming out at the same time. Dog Days, Bogota was in the can years ago, but is finally coming out now. Fashion Magazine happened so quickly—it is just a coincidence. JB: You’ve had a very fashionable year so far—the W Magazine spread and this whole Fashion Magazine project have taken you and the 8x10 all over the world shooting expensive clothes, beautiful people and fancy things. Is there more fashion in your future, or have you had enough for the time being? AS: I’m done. Fashion is an image-gobbling machine. I don’t want to get sucked up.

Fashion Magazine: Paris Minnesota. Photographs by Alec Soth. Interview by Marta Gili. Published by Julien Frydman/Magnum Photos, Paris, 2007. Designed by Christophe Renard. Production by Gaëlle Quentin. Editorial consulting by Sophie Djerlal. Printed by Fot Imprimeurs, France. Softbound. 188 pp., four-color illus., 9 1⁄2 x 12 $25.00

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COLUMNS

Publishing the Photography Book: Limited Editions, Part II The ongoing column about publishing photobooks. MARY VIRGINIA SWANSON and DARIUS HIMES

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SINCE SUMMER 2004, Mary Virginia Swanson and Darius Himes have presented, in a column that appears in each issue of photo-eye, detailed steps that outline the process of having a book of photographs published. Entering the third year of this in-depth column, they now turn their attention to the practice of publishing a limited edition book along with a trade edition. The market for collectible photography books and prints has never been better. Many publishers produce photography books in deluxe editions, hoping to capitalize on the marketplace. In this second installment of a three-part series, the authors talk with two photographers—L.A.-based photographer Hiroshi Watanabe and N.Y.-based Sean Perry—that have self-published books of their work and have met with success in the process. INTERVIEW WITH HIROSHI WATANABE Darius Himes: Which was the first body of work you published? Hiroshi Watanabe: I first self-published Veiled Observations and Reflections, which is a collection of twenty photographs of various places I visited, to coincide with the show of the same title at White Room Gallery in Los Angeles in 2002. This became the base of my forthcoming book from Photolucida, titled Findings. After that, I started the Faces series. Faces Vol. 1 is a collection of portraits of patients in a psychiatric hospital in Ecuador, which provided the base of the recently published monograph, I See Angels Every Day (Mado-sha, 2007). DH: How did you decide which images to include? HW: I used an on-demand publishing company in Japan. At that time, the format choices were limited. I had to work with pre-set pages of twenty and I selected the twenty images that I felt were most representative of the work. DH: How many copies did you initially print? HW: I believe I initially made 50 copies. But since this was ondemand printing, I could order any number of copies, as few as one. DH: What was the company and how much did each book cost? HW: The company is Asukanet. Now they have U.S. operations and are known among photographers here in the States. At that time, I had to have the books shipped to my studio in L.A. from Japan, and it cost me around $35 per copy after shipping. I knew I had to increase the list price in order to give galleries and bookstores a discount, and the selling price would be too expensive for such a small book with only twenty photographs. That is why I decided to include small silver prints in order to make the book more attractive and be able to justify the higher price. DH: You don’t limit the number of books you print, correct? HW: I do not pre-set the numbers of the books (mainly because they are on-demand books that I can order any time) but I do limit the number of prints to come with the books. And the books are only sold with prints. So, in effect, the books are limited to the extent of the prints that I make available. For instance, I make prints of only two images for Veiled Observations and Reflections


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IMAGE COPYRIGHT HIROSHI WATANABE

book and each 6 x 6 prints are limited editions of 200. One of the images that comes with the book is White Terns, Midway Atoll, and there are only a dozen prints left. So far 80 copies are sold with the other image, El Arbolito Park, Quito, Ecuador, as I did not offer the image till 2004. But I will probably use numbers 101-200 of the same image for the deluxe limited edition version of Findings (details need to be worked out). In that case, there will be 300 copies of the book and that will be it since I will not make prints for that book any more. I changed the bookprint format since Faces Vol. 2 , and now I make limited edition 6 x 6 prints of 100 per image so that collectors can choose any image they like. DH: Have you sold out of any prints because of these books? HW: I cannot say if it is because of the book, but 14 x 14 (I make 2 sizes—10 x 10 and 14 x 14) print of “White Tern, Midway Atoll” is sold out and there’s only one 14 x 14 print left of El Arbolito Park, Quito, Ecuador. DH: Have your collectors started buying larger prints? HW: As you know, the trend is for bigger prints. I get asked (mainly by galleries) to make larger prints. And I started to make large prints for my work of North Korea. Besides that, I think some people do not buy right away although they are very interested in the work after having seen it in a gallery. In that case, they sometimes buy a book instead and chew on the image that they like before deciding to go back

to the gallery and buy the print. So, I think having a book is a good thing for artists. DH: Did galleries respond because of these books? HW: I sometimes used the books (without prints) as giveaways to galleries where I wanted to have a show. Judging from the shows that I was able to secure, I believe the books worked. I also knew some galleries were familiar with my work already because they had seen my books. INTERVIEW WITH SEAN PERRY Mary Virginia Swanson: I’m speaking with Sean Perry about his hand-made, hand-crafted, book Transitory: The Abstract. Why did you decide to produce a book? Sean Perry: My mom was a librarian and my introduction to photography began at the library. I’ve had mentors, but my inspiration comes first and foremost from books. To make books like my heroes, such as Tom Baril or Michael Kenna, was a marker to stretch myself creatively towards. MVS: Tell us about the photographs. SP: The body of work is called Transitory, consisting of architecture visualized in three studies: abstract, electrical, and concrete. The series is about the presence of these familiar structures vs. the environment they occupy. MVS: This is a gorgeous, hand-made, hand-crafted book. Can you describe it for us? SP: We decided to produce this as a plate-book, with exhibi63


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ALL IMAGES COPYRIGHT SEAN PERRY

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tion prints tipped onto the pages—I have always loved the atmosphere of tipped-in prints. The book is not oversized which brings an air of intimacy. There are 30 pages, ten carbon pigment prints and one laid-in platinum/palladium print measuring 9 x 8 inches. The introduction by Roy Flukinger, and all copy, is letterpress printed. The dropspine box is covered in Japanese silk with title details blindstamped. The edition is 87; pricing began at $450 and has since gone to $550 after one-third of the books were sold. MVS: Had you defined an audience for this plate book before you started production? SP: People that have seen my work in galleries were the initial base. Then, because of the attention to craft and content of the imagery, it has appealed to architects and others interested in design. There are small details to discover that people who appreciate design will love: the way the pages and papers are scored, how the very last page of the book holds the watermark of the paper that we used. MVS: Who was your collaborator on the book? SP: Jace Graf, of Cloverleaf Press in Austin, Texas. He is a master book artist and deserves the credit for the craft and design details. Jace is a dream collaborator as he is as excited about what he does as I am about what I do. MVS: How has the book complemented your gallery relationships and your print sales? Did Stephen Clark, your dealer in Austin, feel like you were competing with his efforts to sell your prints? SP: While books have their own collecting audience, it supports print sales, without question. At AIPAD this year, we displayed the book, a large piece from my new body of work Architecture, platinum prints from the Gotham series as well as silver prints from the Transitory series. Many who bought the book investigate the work further, placing print orders through the gallery or by visiting my website www.seanperry.com. Some collectors have specifically bought prints that are featured in the book. MVS: You shared with me that some of the dealers at AIPAD bought the book, as often happens industry fairs, so that too brought you to new audiences. SP: Terry Etherton of Etherton Gallery in Tucson bought a copy for himself and one for his client Manfred Heiting, who has a well-known collection of photographic books. The private collector and curator John Bennette from NYC also bought a copy. I first met him at Fotofest 2006. Clint Willour recently presented a beautiful exhibition of Transitory at the Galveston Art Center and bought a copy for the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. In-person presentations have brought positive results as well. MVS: Let’s talk a little bit about the website that you created

for the book. Has it driven new audiences to your work? SP: I purchased www.transitorybook.com to allow for coverage of the three books in this trilogy. There is value in linking off of one’s primary website (www.seanperry.com) and letting it serve as it’s own destination. The book website contains all things surrounding this extended project, including exhibitions and radio interviews that are posted on the site. It is the press kit for the book as well as a place to list testimonials, promotional images, production and purchase details. MVS: So, you were your own publicist for this project! Did you find that marketing this book required a different vocabulary from marketing and promoting fine prints? SP: Definitely. You can’t expect others to do your marketing for you—you have to be able to talk about and introduce your work yourself, in each specific marketplace, be it the publishing or print arena. I’ve enjoyed learning to conduct business in both. Learning the language of my collaborators enables me to successfully contribute as a participant, not just a recipient. I couldn’t be more pleased with the book, and the audience it is reaching. Websites associated with this article: Hiroshi Watanabe, www.hiroshiwatanabe.com Sean Perry, www.seanperry.com Transitory, The Abstract book, www.transitorybook.com Some Artists Making Amazing Limited Edition Books: Paula McCartney, Bird Watching, Interstice, Migration www.paulamccartney.com Jennifer Brook, Transplant jennifer-brook.com/index.php Ewa Zebrowski, Remembering Brodsky, Vedute di Venezia www.ewazebrowski.com Vicki Topaz www.vickitopaz.com/html/book%200.html Millicent Harvey, www.millicentharvey.com/fineArt_book.html Carol Barton, Vision Shifts www.popularkinetics.com/vision_shifts.html Joan Lyons, ABCE (Mexico City Book 2) www.frontiernet.net/~jlyons1/abece.html Other Online Resources: Artists Books Online, with work by Johanna Drucker, Clifton Meador, and Philip Zimmermann among others www.artistsbooksonline.org

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ROVING EYE Kerouac, Coekin, the camera . . . and the open road. A new column by Avis Cardella.

ALL IMAGES COPYRIGHT CHRIS COEKIN

2007 MARKS THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY of the publication of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, one of the defining books of the beat generation. To commemorate this event, several new Kerouac publications are hitting the bookstores. Meanwhile, the famous scroll on which the novel was originally written is continuing its own symbolic road trip of sorts. The artifact is currently on display in Lowell, Massachusetts, after which it will travel to the New York Public Library. This current wave of interest in Kerouac’s iconic novel sparked my imagination and got me wondering about a visual equivalent beyond the obvious example of Robert Frank’s seminal book The Americans. I immediately thought of Stephen Shore, who in 1972 created the work for American Surfaces, an informal diary of images depicting the meals, hotel beds, people and places he encountered in a Kerouac-style road trip across America. Between 1973 and 1980, again while traveling by car across the U.S., he created a series of images which was eventually published under the title Uncommon Places. Both of these works—important documents in color photography—have influenced a generation of photographers. Yet, as influential as Frank’s and Shore’s photography has been stylistically, I realized that the road trip, as a genre, has not fared as well. There are two notable examples from recent years such as the 2002 release of Winogrand: 1964 which follows the from-the-hip shooter on a Guggenheimfunded trip around the country, and Alec Soth’s Sleeping Along the Mississippi, which could be characterized as a road trip. But I would have expected many more photographers to employ the Kerouac template in their photographic journeys over the past few decades. Recently, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the latest work from British photographer Chris Coekin. In his book, The Hitcher (which is also on exhibit at London’s The Photographers’ Gallery through September 2nd) Coekin records his six years of hitchhiking shenanigans across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Equipped with a disposable snapshot camera and a Mamiya 6 x 8, 67


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Coekin set out in 2000 on his photographic odyssey. Kerouac was, of course, a motivating factor, as were the writings of British author Laurie Lee in As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning. The “on the road” style images from photographers such as Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand and, of course, Shore, were perhaps also registered somewhere in his visual lexicon. But unlike these predecessors, Coekin, has managed to apply some quirky twists to this photographic genre. In the social documentary tradition, for example, it is usually the photographer who chooses who and what to photograph. Yet, for a major portion of the book, Coekin has effectively allowed the subjects to choose themselves, by portraying the motorists who offered him a lift. Coekin involved his subjects even more intricately in his process when he asked each driver to fill out a questionnaire which began with, “Why did you stop to pick me up?” The answers appear throughout the book. The Hitcher also includes snapshot-like self-portraits often taken with a camera on self-timer. These images are as compelling as his portraits of motorists. Coekin has recorded himself drenched in the rain, with blistered feet, cold and tired, and ultimately aging over the six-year time span of his journey. His original intention, he explains, was simply to document the journey: what road, what day. But as the project progressed, he found himself creating more and more cinematic set-ups, staging scenes and placing himself as the protagonist in his storyline. “I liked the idea of toying with what is fact and what is fiction,” he says. Kerouac might be proud, and perhaps Cindy Sherman too. Coekin’s cinematic snaps have something in common with Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills. There is a palpable sense that something is lurking just past the boundaries of each frame. But that tension is real. For Coekin, the issues of safety and trust were always present and an integral part of this body of work. Both the freedoms of the open road, as well as the possible risks, were always present. “You are so dependent on people to stop and pick you up, you have to trust that they are a ‘good’ person, and that you are too,” he explains. “There is a feeling of joy when someone stops. It’s life affirming,” he adds. The road trip of today is no longer Kerouac’s nor Shore’s nor even Coekin’s. Over the six years of photographing the work for The Hitcher, Coekin noted a marked decrease in both hitchhikers and drivers willing to pick them up. It’s hard to say if hitchhiking will one day disappear completely. For the moment, I might simply suggest putting Kerouac’s reissued classic on your must-read list right next to Coekin’s newly published tribute to the road. The Hitcher. Photographs by Chris Coekin. Introduction by Camilla Brown. Short story by Chris Coekin. Walkout Books in association with The Photographers’ Gallery, London, 2007. Designed by Why Not Associates. Printed by EBS, Verona. Trade edition of 1000. Hardbound with photo-illustrated dustjacket. 128 pp., 105 four-color illustrations, 10 x 6 1⁄2 $49.95

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EVERYTHING AROUND US, DEAD OR ALIVE,

in the eyes of a crazy photographer, mysteriously takes on many variations, so that a seemingly dead object comes to life through light or by its surroundings … To capture some of this—I suppose that’s lyricism. —Josef Sudek

THE OLD & RARE SURVEY With the plethora of material on Josef Sudek available to the collector, ERIC MILES takes time out to survey the life and publications of Prague’s most famous old-world photographer.

The Enchanted Garden, 1955

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A specter of Atget in the city of Kafka in a country successively occupied by the Nazis and the Soviets, Josef Sudek embodied much of the history of twentieth century Mitteleuropa modernism. His apotheosis in the U.S., however, did not occur until he was already well into his seventies. The two American solo exhibitions mounted in 1974—first at the George Eastman House and then at the Light Gallery—came at a time when photography was finding far greater institutional acceptance (as well as a nascent market) than at any time in its history. To a young, ambitious photographer in the mid-1970s Sudek would have seemed the perfect archetype of the old-world romantic artist: a one-armed Eastern European Bohemian, “reminiscent of one of the Baroque figures on the Charles Bridge,” as Anna Farova once remarked, schlepping his antique view camera around the streets of Prague. But Sudek was no solitary genius; he, like many of his contemporaries, rode the wave of photography’s popularity and a thriving illustrated-book industry, publishing prolifically beginning in the late 20s and continuing more or less to this day (though Sudek passed away in 1976). With over 50 publications to his credit, there is a trove of Sudek material that can still be ferreted out by the ambitious collector. Had Sudek never produced a single one of his melancholic landscapes, intimate still-lifes, or tranquil cityscapes, had he simply given up photography altogether in, say, the mid-thirties, he would likely still have a place in the history of the photographic avant-garde for his work with graphic artist Ladislav Sutnar (pioneer of information design and forefather of the v computer icon) at Druzstevní práce, the renowned publishing house and design cooperative. As design critic Paul Makovsky has said of their collaboration, “[it] signaled the triumph of constructivist and functionalist design in Czechoslovakia during the early 30s. Their work exemplified a new optimism about the ability of artists and designers to bring art into everyday life.” Though quite rare, Orbis 1931 (a calendar with v twelve photographs); the Druzstevní práce calendar (1933, with 27 photographs by Sudek, selected and edited by Sutnar); and Josef Sudek, Vánoce 1933 (Josef Sudek, Christmas 1933) are representative of this period of Sudek’s development. Two more recent exhibitions, both with outstanding catalogues (with English texts) also feature this less familiar commercial v work: Druzstevní práce: Sutnar-Sudek (Museum of Decorative Arts, Prague, 2007) and Josef Sudek: A Flash of Design (Alvar Aalto Museum, Finland, 2003).


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Anna Farova describes Sudek’s development as follows: “from Pictorialism via Impressionism to experimental functional compositions, he had found his dominant themes— the city of Prague and the effects of light.” Though other Czech photographers—Jaromír Funke, Franticek Drtikol and Karl Teige—figure prominently in the history of Modernist photography, none are so identified with the ineffable mystery of that city, which Sudek never seemed to tire of trying to capture. With a ready audience for his cityscapes, Sudek published them in a number of collections from the late 30s onward, with most titles from this period never seeing distribution outside of Czechoslovakia. Titles such as Praha barokní (Baroque Prague), 1938 v (republished in 1947); Prazské zahrady (Prague parks), 1943; Prazsky Hrad (Prague Castle), two editions 1945 & 1947; Násv Hrad (Our Castle), 1948—to mention just a few—all feature rich gravure printing that captures the tonal variation of his work. After the war, with the integration of Czechoslovakia into the Soviet sphere, one would think that unless he turned toward Socialist Realism, career prospects for a romantically inclined Modernist photographer like Sudek, would be somewhat dim. Ironically, this was not the case. His two undisputed masterpieces of the second half of the 50’s had the good fortune of falling into the hands of Jan Rezac, the editor-in-chief of Statni Nakladatelstvi Krasne Literatury, Hudby a Umeni (or, SNKLHU, State Belles Lettres Music and Art Publishers). With its austerely elegant design and printing, Sudek’s Fotografie (1956) can serve as a primer on the development of central European Modernist photography. Arranged chronologically with work dating back to 1915, it shows Sudek working through an incredible range of styles—Czech Poetism, Constructivism and Functionalism, New Objectivity, and Surrealism. The stunning Praha panoramatická (Prague in Panorama) 1959, the most sought after of Sudek’s cityscape books, is far more uniform in its methods. Ian Jeffrey has remarked of these desolate images, they “might have been put together by Samuel Beckett for instance, responsible 72 photo-eye Fall 2007

for the scenarios, in collaboration with Alberto Giacometti, in charge of distant pedestrians.” Unlike most of his other Prague books whose focus is more on historical sites, Praha panoramatická has more in common with books such as Willy Ronis’s great Belleville-Ménilmontant and Robert Doisneau’s La Banlieu de Paris, which explore the mostly working class outer reaches of the city, imbuing even the most humble of locations with an achingly nostalgic longing. For collections at any level of development, both of these titles represent ‘can’t miss’ forays into slightly more high-end material. Sudek would not live to see the publication of the major biographical surveys of his life. Sonja Bullaty’s intimate 1978 portrait (re-issued in 1986) was released two years after his death. A tireless supporter of the work of Czech photographers, Anna Farova contributed a foreword to Bullaty’s book. She also made a selection of Sudek’s prints and oversaw the production of a limited edition (75 copies) portfolio published by the Rudolf Kicken Gallery in Cologne in 1982. Farova published several books on Sudek, with the first in 1983 for the Italian series Edition I Grandi fotografi (Fabbri), culminating with her 1995 Sudek magnum opus (issued originally in Czech by Torst and then in German and English editions in 1998–99 by Kehayoff ). Weighing in at over four hundred pages, it is by far the most comprehensive survey of his work. Sudek’s fame owes to the intimacy and lyrical quality of his images, so many of which captured the ineffable mystery of Prague’s iconic architectural heritage (at a time when that heritage was being destroyed in other cities on the continent). Though his misty romanticism can at times seem a bit cloying, he was a surrealist at heart, who through stunning technical refinement of his medium never ceased turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.


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Krista Elrick www.kristaelrick.com

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Consulting and Project Management on Photography Book Publishing In a profession that many of us are justifiably cynical and skeptical about, Joanna stands out as someone with genuine integrity, commitment and interest in helping her authors and photographers in the best way she can. —Nick Brandt, photographer “Joanna’s performance made a very real difference in our book’s sales and marketing. She has the right experience and industry contacts to help photographers with their special concerns, from finding the right publisher to contract negotiations, and later to active book promotion and packaging. She’s one-of-a-kind, and sorely needed.” —Mark Klett, photographer

PROJECT REVIEW, PACKAGING PLACEMENT, PROMOTION www.hurleymedia.com photopub@hurleymedia.com 505.982.4006


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REBECCA SOLNIT HAS REPEATEDLY BEEN

EDITOR’S CHOICE Each season yields scores of books worthy of note. Our editor, DARIUS HIMES, chooses one title that stands head-and-shoulders above the others.

described as “erudite,” a singular adjective that conjures up images of a bespectacled, library-bound scholar. In reading through this new collection of essays, however, one begins to see a constellation of character traits. Solnit embodies the ideal of the hearty (and wholehearted) seeker who has taken it upon herself to independently investigate the truth. Unaligned with outside authority, guided by penetrating questions and equipped with only (but capably) her rational faculties, intellectual acumen and a ferocious appetite for justice and accountability, she has literally and metaphorically wandered out firsthand to see the natural and social landscape of America. At times gruff and judgmental but ever discriminating and poignant, her essays range from current affairs to popular culture and history, and of course photography and the power of images. Her approach is engaging to say the least. The essays, regardless of their length, often begin with a particular event or object or person that has caught her eye. This particular serves as the leaping-off point for a foray into the broad, the sweeping and the historical, ever winding through a mental landscape that belies how well-read she is, eventually bringing us back down to the surface and the detail from which she began. Solnit doesn’t hesitate to state her opinion or to take a position. In fact, this is one of the most striking qualities in her writing and serves her well, for it brings a force to her statements that cannot be avoided. But this is not a book of rants by a “grumpy activist.” While Solnit is not afraid to commit her passionate positions to paper, she is also not afraid to place herself in the quietude of the deserts and wilderness of the American West and to tell us of the experience in equally quiet terms. In a lyrical essay about the “landscape” of the sky, she guides the reader through a history of constellations and the variety of meaning and uses that humans have found therein. “Constellations are an essential metaphorical construct—or one might say that metaphor is an art of making constellations, of constellating.” In the remainder of the paragraph she manages to reference Aristotle’s Poetics, Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt, whom she quotes as saying, “Metaphors are the means by which the oneness of the world is poetically brought about.” This attendance to metaphors and their power is something she employs throughout the book, returning to again and again, much like a well. It is from this well that Solnit proffers a refreshing drink. Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics. Text by Rebecca Solnit. University of California Press, Berkeley, 2007. Designed by Sandy Drooker. Clothbound with photo-illustrated dustjacket. 416 pp., 11 black-and-white illustrations, 6 1⁄4 × 8 1⁄4 $24.95

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photo-eye Magazine, Fall 2007  

photo-eye Magazine's Fall 2007 issue. photo-eye Magazine is now being published online, available for free at http://www.photoeye.com

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