I have encapsulated this collection of photobooks under the title Come along if you care, come along if you dare from a Ramones cover of the song Journey to the Center of the Mind (originally by The Amboy Dukes, 1968). It is the result of my spending time in the library at ICP originally wanting to show books that dealt with a sense of movement or cinematic approach to bookmaking. I have also taken the occasion to mix authors that I know and love, with new discoveries or hidden gems that you only find through browsing books and catalogues for hours and speaking to the librarian for inspiration and help (thanks Martha!).
What makes a book feel cinematic? I immediately thought about Bernardita Morello’s book Edén (in the ‘Further Reading’ list) designed by Eloi Gimeno and published by Fiebre 2016, where one full bleed image and page layout blends into the next in an uninterrupted sequence.
With this question in mind and my desire of exhibiting a diverse range of photobooks I decided to guide my curatorial experience towards a broader understanding of time and duration and see how photography and cinema, constantly influence one another whether it is in the conceptual core of the work or on the formal aspects of it. David Campany’s selection of texts including essays and interviews for The Cinematic (Documents in Contemporary Art, Whitechapel ; Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 2007 ) is the perfect theoretical introduction to the different ways in which this dialogue between still and moving image unfolds. In the section From One Image to the Other, Catherine David writes an extensive essay on Photography and Cinema and develops a thoughtful connection between Jeff Walls’s practice (a cinematic photography) and Wim Wenders (a photographic cinema), pointing out the subtleties that create this experience such as in Wenders movies, favouring the accidental, the ‘privileged moment’ that the photographer captures but within a very set scenario.
To make it a bit more digestible for myself and hopefully for you as well, I have divided the books in three different categories: tactile time, the time that we are together and past, present future; but this is just one of the multiple readings they can have.
In this section I have included the books that speak to the materiality of photography, the celluloid and the deconstruction of time. Past Paper // Present Marks: Responding to Rauschenberg (Santa Fe, NM. Radius Books, 2021), presents a collection photograms that Jennifer Garza-Cuen and Odette England developed while on a residency at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in Captiva, Florida. According to their own explanation of the process, the images were made in Rauschenberg’s swimming pool, using expired 1970s gelatin silver paper found in his darkroom. The two artists ‘activated’ the paper by piercing or slashing the bags and envelopes using pens, scissors, or knives; folding the silver paper at odd angles; or layering them inside the bags. Some sank to the bottom of the pool, while others floated on top or by the filtration units. Exposures were made overnight and throughout the day, allowing different levels and intensities of sunlight, moonlight, and water to penetrate the paper.
Another kind of intervention of the print through scissors, folding, etc. linked to the emotional experience that a photograph can arise when viewing old photographs with the passing of time, is presented on the book Love and hate and other mysteries: found altered snapshots from the collection of Thierry Struvay (New York. August Editions, 2016.). This small book is a compilation of archive images from different personal albums where part of the image has been cut, is missing, or has been purposefully distorted. Photography as a memento, an object that lives with us and reminds us of a time past.
From a more experiential (and physical) feel of duration, I have selected the almost unmanageable book Thousand by Philip Lorca Dicorcia (Gèottingen: Steidlangin, 2007). In this publication he presents a selection of one thousand actual size Polaroid images printed on a very thin paper (in Spanish we would say ‘like smoking paper thin’). This paper selection is really crucial because it helps the viewer flip through the book with a certain rhythm that reminded me to the experience of the carrousel going through slides one after the other.
Another kind of experience of the unfolding of time is present in the work of Barbara Probst, Exposures (Gottingen : Steidl, 2007). Her methodology is consistent throughout her career photographing an instant from different angles and perspectives, often combining colour and black and white and creating very cinematic installations. With this use of photography one is confronted with questions around surveillance, the gaze and the construction of an image.
Lastly in this category with find the book Between Times: instants, intervals, durations (Madrid: La Fábrica 2010). It is an exhibition catalogue where the starting point for the exhibition was precisely to reflect on the use of photography in visual arts with works that have been created since 1995 and the confirmation that of one of the most distinctive themes in modern photography is precisely its special relationship with the concept of time. The exhibition included over 200 artworks from different international artists such as Jeff Wall and Hiroshi Sugimoto, as well as Spanish artists such as Ignasi Aballí and Mabel Palacín.
This is all for today. Thank you for reading ! I will be posting the second part of the text (The time that we are together and Past, present, future) on Sunday.