Some Photobooks I liked in 2018 (Part Two)



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  1. Aleksey Kondratyev’s Ice Fishers (London: Loose Joints, 2018) is a slim and quiet edition of only fifty two pages with a one page insert of colophon and text. The images are placed on such a perfect whiteness that it is hard to know what we are looking at first. The narrative is that for generations Kazakh fisherman have set out on to the frozen Ishim River in the hope of catching fish beneath the ice often in temperatures of forty below zero.  What we are seeing is the fisherman wrapped in plastic to keep warm from the biting icy winds. Kondratyev’s images are a beautiful commentary on the impact of global capitalism, with the repurposing of plastic packaging of Russian and Chinese goods, on the local people. 

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    7. Studio Volta photo by Sanlé Sory (Co-published by the Yossi Milo Gallery New York & Tezeta (Edition of 400, plus a special edition of 100) 2018) was produced in conjunction with an exhibition at the Yossi Milo Gallery April 26th to June 23rd 2018. The studio photographs of Sory Sanlé are brilliant depictions of his participation in the vibrant music scene in Bobo-Dioulasso in the 1960s through to the 1980s. This beautiful book features never seen before images from the photographer’s archive of vintage negatives. This really is a special body of work and it is always great to see an exhibition catalogue that is also an artists’ book.  The publisher and designer Sébastien Girard, and also an accomplished artist himself, has been making some great books this year and experimenting with the risograph to produce some engaging works. The reason I selected this photobook, is that Sanlé Sory’s work is visually stunning and also his personal story is an amazing one that needs to be recognized.  Sory attended his exhibition at the Yossi Milo gallery and not only was it his first time in New York, it was also the first time that the artist had been on a plane!



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    8. Taco Hidde Bakker’s The Photograph That Took the Place of a Mountain (Amsterdam: Fw:Books, 2018) contains very few photographs. It is a book featuring twenty of Bakker’s miscellaneous writings, originally published in art and photography magazines and on two blogs between 2007 and 2016. The Photograph That Took the Place of a Mountaincontains writings on the work of theorists and artists such as Vilém Flusser, Ariella Azoulay, Witho Worms, Onorato & Krebs, Renato D’Agostin, Stephan Keppel, Marie-José Jongerius, Paul Kooiker, Tom Callemin, Dirk Braeckman, Francesca Woodman, and Mariken Wessels. There is also a lovely interview with Ken Schles. Taco’s writing on images and text is a very enjoyable read. The Short and subtle writings produced here, which include poetry, song lyrics, a few careful images and intense visual philosophy, are really a window into to some of the most profound contemporary photographic artists and their processes. The photobook has come a long way and now it is ready to enter the next phase of its evolution. In the recent past, to DIY and independently publish and get your book out there seemed to be the only goal and once the book was published that was enough, mission accomplished. I now feel we are really ready for a more serious critique of the photobook and for that we need more skilled writers like Taco.



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    9. The New Colonists by Monica Alcazar-Duarte (Bemojake 2018) comes in a space age silver bag, complete with a cloth patch and the promise of being a highly ‘tricked out’ publication. Alcazar-Duarte’s The New Colonists is a project split into three distinct parts. Part one consists of the twilight images of the suburban town of Mars in Pennsylvania, USA.; Part two begins to include space travel technology from the European Space Agency, images from the terrestrial ‘Mars Yards’, robotic rovers, would be-cosmonauts and astronauts, polar deserts and Hawaiian lava fields, and; Part three consists of an “Augmented Reality Portal”.  The portal is accessed through an app, designed by Paul Ferragut, brings the viewer/reader into contact with 3-D animations of spy satellites and space colonies by Levan Tozashvili as well as narration from Dr. Ian Crawford, Professor of Planetary Science and Astrobiology at Birkbeck. Dr.Crawford presents his ideas on Space colonisation exploring the notions of “space law” and “space ethics”.  Perhaps the “Augmented Reality Portal” and the use of QR codes in photography books will be the CD-ROM of the future? The future is un-written after all. Alcazar-Duarte’s The New Colonistsis a strong photobook of exciting possibilities and dynamic graphic design and imagery. The all American images from Mars, Pennsylvania, connect us back to the sublime life on earth, a world of gas stations and fast food places, but somehow it will never be the same again.



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    10. The Castle by Richard Mosse (London Mack 2018, with 28 double gatefolds, printed with silver inks on black paper, with texts in the booklet by Judith Butler, Paul K Saint Amour, Behrouz Boochani and Richard Mosse). Silver ink on black paper is always a delight to see in a book. This is a very haunting, beautiful and meaningful body of work. The Castle is formed from a selection of photographs from Mosse’s series Heat Maps that show temporary encampments and border crossings along migration routes to Europe from the Middle East and Africa. Using a military grade thermographic camera the “Heat Map” is constructed from hundreds of frames. This camera was primarily designed for border surveillance, search and rescue missions, and for identifying and tracking targets when used as part of a weapons system. The images are not made from light, but are recordings of heat. This is a sinister series of images in book form, disturbing as an idea and concept and equally disturbing and jarring visually.


Dear friends, While you are here

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,

Matthew Carson

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.


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