As promised, here is the second installment of my 2018 acquisition blurbs. Caleb’s Guide To ICP Library New Acquisitions part 2 ~
EINSTEIN STUDIO – TOKYO/JAPAN JUN 2018
At the New York Art Book Fair we acquired a few issues of Einstein Studio’s ongoing monthly series “Tokyo/Japan”. JUN 2018 is the latest that we have however the series, which began in 2016, is still ongoing. Each issue begins with a few highlighted photographers and continues with work from between 30 and 60 additional contributors. JUN 2018 features Hanayo, Masanao Hirayama, Sayo Nagase, and Kohey Kanno but also includes 52 other photographers. Tokyo/Japan is not constrained by photographic genre in any way, and every image in the book is labeled with the neighborhood in which it was captured (regardless of how abstract the picture or recognizable the landmark). The project of Tokyo/Japan seems monumental but at the same time extremely simple. The mission is not to document the totality of the city but simply to create an ever-expanding index of the multiplicity of visions within a highly populated urban space. Einstein Studio 2018.
MATEO RUIZ GONZALEZ – HAMBURGERS FOR BREAKFAST
I met Mateo by chance through my old friend Cole when we were all going to play in a band together. The band didn’t work out but Mateo and I stayed in touch and last month he donated some books to the library from his new press An-Tics. Hamburgers For Breakfast was to me the highlight of the batch (although all of his stuff is worth checking out), not least because it documents Superiority Burger, a tiny (and extremely good) vegetarian restaurant in the East Village where Gonzalez used to work. He created the images that make up the book by bringing his camera to work and snapping photographs while on shift. It’s rare that a book portrays labor from the point of view (literally) of the laborer, and this book is particularly illuminating because of in turn how mysterious the inner workings of this specific restaurant are.
Hamburgers For Breakfast magnifies gestures between human and comestible to full frame, detailing the inner workings of the arcane food preparation process of Superiority Burger. A key element to unpacking this book is that this restaurant is SMALL. Gonzales gets a lot of mileage out of every available square inch, and when he’s able to get far enough away from anything to get a picture that’s fully in focus it feels like a miracle, yet the images don’t feel claustrophobic. Instead, we get a feeling of density; much like New York itself the restaurant is a site of unlimited cultural saturation and exchange housed within a finite space. Gonzales has a sensitive eye for portraiture, and his strength shines through when he catches his coworkers in rare moments of repose. I’m looking forward to seeing what Gonzales has in store for us next – make sure you stay tuned to An-Tics to find out! An-Tics 2018.
IKENO SHIORI – ORB
One of the booths I was most excited to visit at the NYABF this year was Commune – the Tokyo based gallery/press/boutique who published Ikeno Shiori’s new book ORB in 2018. Ikeno works in promotional and artistic idioms while maintaining a strong sense of individual style. My first exposure to her work was concert photography on the PYOUTH MAG instagram page – disorienting angles of extreme moments of performance in vivid, very obviously analog, color. Ikeno’s professional work has included product/fashion work, and promotional/tour photography for musicians such as Haino Keiji and Bo Ningen. ORB on the other hand deemphasizes subject matter and brings Ikeno’s personal style to the forefront.
The photos in ORB have no decisive moment other than the instant the flash bulb fires; these seemingly mundane pictures could perhaps fall into the “snapshot-gone-wrong” or “disposable camera diary” genre, but Ikeno’s unique vision shines through when the sensational subject matter of her promotional photographs is removed.
In these more abstract moments, Ikeno’s masterful use of flash, shallow depth of field, and high contrast create a soft world in which much of her frame becomes dots (orbs). Human figures take on a high drama when the flash renders them alone in a frame of darkness. ORB also showcases Ikeno’s sensitivity to the world around her; much of the daylight and non-flash photography shows careful observations of everyday tableaus. The book maintains a straight face without sacrificing a playful and honest approach, and hidden small details reward the repeat viewer. Ikeno’s prolific output can be found on her Instagram as well as in @jusangatsurecords and Pyouth Magazine. commune Press 2018.
MINNY LEE – MILLION YEARS
Last year, when I was still a teaching assistant at the library, I wrote about Minny Lee’s short yet poignant Ashes Into The Ocean; a loving elegy for her father-in-law that mixes short pieces of text with photographs of apartment interiors and the ocean. In her newest book, Million Years, Lee shifts her perspective and scale, with photographs taken of American countryside from a plane.
Photograph collections are rearrangements of moments; photographers show us groups of instants taken out of time to create narratives or feelings, alternatives to our linear intake of time and life. Specifically, aerial photography often feels like an attempt to display the totality of the planet, or to create an index of the ways in which humans have shaped it. The affect of aerial photography is typically imperialist, masculine, and strict in its formalism.
Million Years reimagines the genre as something softer, more personal, and capable of a wistful yearning. Her approach to text in Million Years is a photographic approach: a pastiche of material sourced from geology, rearranged to create feelings and narratives. An added complexity is that the original geology text often does the very thing that aerial photography sets out to do: show us a totality of the earth, and index its various properties. Lee plays with our expectations of photography, science writing, and poetry by extracting a profoundly lonely personal narrative from seemingly objective scientific texts. Another pick from the NYABF, it was a pleasure to meet Datz, who consistently release spellbinding photography books that are all worth checking out! Datz Press 2018.