I haven’t produced one of these types of list for a few years now and this year. . . This year it just seemed right to do so again and so I have selected some of my personal favourites for your perusal. My selections are my own and I share them here with you, in no particular order and without any hierarchy. Firstly, I must make mention that the ICP Library operates in accordance with S.R. Ranganathan’s Five laws of library science:
- Books are for use.
- Every person his or her book.
- Every book its reader.
- Save the time of the reader.
- The library is a growing organism.
Twenty eighteen has been a good year for the photobook and this year I have a renewed feeling towards the photobook and I am again excited by the possibilities it has to offer. It is a democratic art form, with a lot of potential and each book can be a successful realization of a project. Each book is a mini-portable gallery and an exhibition unfolding with the turn of the page and that is tremendously exciting. In the past decade or more we have seen the rise of the self-published and the independently published photobook. Characteristics of this independence include smaller edition sizes, creative and unusual design and often more esoteric content. We are in a world where the photographic artist has greater control over the finished product. It is almost easier to define them as what they are not: They are not coffee table books. This is not your Grandfathers library. For me the books that I find the most engaging are artists’ photography books as they are like immersive theatre. I like the books that burn with intensity. They are the books that compel you to interact with them. Good photography always helps too!
- Antony Cairns CTY published by Morel books (London: 2018, Edition of 750) with text by Simon Baker (Director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris). CTY is a photobook exquisitely printed duo tone on very beautiful and rare pearl paper. I am a long-time fan and admirer of the work of Antony Cairns; he has created some amazing book works over the years including a hacked e-reader and another printed on old IBM punch cards. CTY also does not disappoint. This publication brings together a selection of Antony Cairns’ previous projects in London, Las Vegas, Tokyo and Osaka, (LDN3, LDN4, LPT and OSC) and is interspersed with six texts by Simon Baker who introduces his excellent writing pieces with quotes by JG Ballard, William Gibson, HP Lovecraft and Benjamin Péret. Antony Cairns work is about experimental processes, obsolete technologies and the investigation of the aesthetics of abstraction and alienation. This photography is dark and haunting, sensual science fiction and we as readers/viewers get to experience this directly.
- Sohrab Hura’s Look It’s Getting Sunny Outside!!! (New Delhi, India: Self Published (Ugly Dog); 2018. Edition of 600) is a book of colour photographs and the title seems to suggest that life is getting better. In 2015 Sohrab Hura published Life is Elsewhere, which was a photographic journal, with some text, of his life, family, work, love, friends and travels. It was a book of dark doubts and contradictions; A book about a young man in India as he tried to deal with life and how to experience life while also coping with his schizophrenic mother. He desperately trying to connect with the world around him and we as readers/viewers (voyeurs) all went along for the ride. In Look It’s Getting Sunny Outside!!! We are informed that his Mother’s condition was improving and that Sohrab was comfortably photographing at home more. His mother and her dog Elsa are the main protagonists in the book. Although, this new work is in colour and the title appears optimistic this is a book that in many ways goes to much darker places. The death of the dog Elsa, the separation of his parents and the trigger of his mother’s illness all come into play and are documented here. Don’t be too fooled by the spring blossoms on the cover.
- Mongrelism: The mighty mongrel mob nation of Aotearoa New Zealand by Jono Rotman together with 16 Barks, Two Hakas and A Waiata (Co-published by Here Press London & Vevey Switzerland 2018 (edition of 1500)). The publication takes the form of a gang handbook. Photo artist Jono Rotman spent eight years documenting the Mongrel Mob of Aotearoa New Zealand who are a gang notorious for extreme violence. Here Jono depicts their members, mostly indigenous Maori, with the most stunning portraits, complete with their iconic patch of a British bulldog wearing a nazi helmet. The symbolism of the Mongrel Mob is a response to Colonialism and also a proclamation of war against the state and society. The identity of the Mongrel Mob is further explored through artefact studies and brutal first person narratives (much of which is produced in its redacted form). The order and grouping of images is the result of consultation with members and hews to their geographic, familial and hierarchical relationships and the overall feel is one of an unholy alliance and collaboration with the Mob themselves.
- Radial Grammar by Batia Suter (Amsterdam: Roma Publications, 2018. Roma volume 323) was created on the occasion of her eponymous exhibition at Le Bal in Paris, from May 25 till August 26, 2018. This is a large book of 292 pages with an accordion-folded supplement inserted. This book is derived from Batia Suter’s collection of second hand tomes, which have been scanned and reproduced here under the themes of natural science, precision machinery and art history. This tome really is a condensed exhibition in book form where selected visual phenomena, strange objects creating an odd pattern, are manipulated with a rhythm that is both curiously engaging and overwhelming. Produced with a text by Henri Michaux from 1968 and expertly designed by Roger Willems.
- Strokes by Tiane Doan na Champassak (Paris: Siam’s Guy Books, (Edition of 350) 2018) is a lovely tactile experience that deals with our most intimate possession our mobile phones. This book is reminiscent of a self-published publication Digit by Christian Erroi (2013) although this instance of parallel thinking results in two very different books. Strokes is the work of dirty finger smudges on a screen and it is an experience of the pure tactile pleasure of scrolling, fondling and stroking the pixels. Naked female forms are obscured by the touching. This is a very sensual and appealing book hidden beneath a black velvet cover in which the viewer can create their own strokes on the fabric.Part Two of this 2018 list to follow shortly.
But while you are here, Our very Dear friends,
The ICP library is home to over 25,000 books, periodicals, archives, artist files, films and more. Each week ICP staff, students, members and scholars utilize the library as a space for both leisure and education, creating a community of collaboration and engagement. As we look ahead to an exciting future, and our new home at Essex Crossing, I look to you to help fund all of the ICP Library’s ongoing efforts.
Plans are currently underway to open our newest library exhibition old space/new space which will take place at both our old space in mid-town and our new space in Essex. Synchronizing the 50th anniversary of the moon landing with the opening of our new home, we will be exploring photobooks and hosting events around all things astral and include such themes as NASA, astrology, UFOs, psycho-geography and more! We are also working on our first full time exhibition at Essex, Poetry and Photography – watch this Space!
The ICP Library is supported exclusively through the generosity of our donors. I hope you will consider making a gift to the Friends of the ICP Library Fund to directly impact and grow our collections, collaborative space, and programming.
My sincerest thanks for your support,
Head Librarian & Archivist
P.S. All donors who make a $100 or more gift will be invited for a private walkthrough of our new space at Essex in 2019.
1 thought on “Some Photobooks I liked in 2018 (Part One)”
All the choices are stung by the splendour of chance enlightenment and casual intuition. Excellent list.