Last weekend I participated in and helped lead a small forum discussion and talk on Photobooks. The workshop was entitled, ‘Reading Photobooks with Photobook Club Melbourne’. The event was held at the CCP in Fitzroy as part of Photo 2021
There were 8 speakers. The event lasted an hour. There were approximately 30 attendees. The attendees were split into small groups of about 10. The speakers worked in small groups also. My group had myself, Suzanne Phoenix, and Dr. Kristian Haggblom. Each presenter was asked to bring one or two books and discuss them. In the end we all had a least 4 books each.
For about 15 minutes each group there was a brief discussion about the books that were chosen.
Here’s a complete list of books presented:-
- Blind Spot, Teju Cole (Faber & Faber, 2016)
- Evidence, Larry Sultan & Mike Mandel (DAP [Distributed Art Publishers], 2017)
- Summer Nights, Robert Adams (Aperture, 1985)
- Summer Nights Walking, Robert Adams (Aperture/Yale University Library, 2010)
- The Other Woman, Barry Kay (Mathews Miller Dunbar Ltd ,1976)
- Artists in Residence, Suzanne Phoenix (self-published, 2020)
- The Terrible Boredom of Paradise, Derek Henderson (self-published, 2005)
- The Lilydale Project, Suzanne Phoenix (handmade, 2015)
- Xian, Thomas Sauvin (https://www.beijingsilvermine.com/xian)
- The Afronauts, Cristina de Middel (1st Edition) (http://www.lademiddel.com/the-afronauts-1.html)
- In the Shadows of the Pyramids, Laura El Tantawy (https://www.lauraeltantawy.com/books/in-the-shadow-of-the-pyramids-10-year-anniversary-edition)
- Beyond Here is Nothing, Laura El Tantawy (https://www.lauraeltantawy.com/books/beyond-here-is-nothing)
- Structure of the Visual Book, Keith A Smith (http://www.keithsmithbooks.com/index.htm)
- Sent a Letter, Dayanita Singh (https://dayanitasingh.net/sent-a-letter/)
- Midnight La Frontera, Ken Light, (Setanta Books, 2020)
- The passenger’s Present, Miki Soejima (FW: Books, 2020)
- Watering my Horse by a Spring at the Foot of the Long Wall, Xiaoxiao Xu (The Eriskay Connection, 2020)
- Mišo Bukumirović, Hajime Kimura (self published, 2016?, Edition of 91)
- Dominon, Wawi Navarroza, (Stephanian, 2014)
- Taipei, Meet Again, Hsuan Lang Lin (Self-published, 2016)
- Hells Gate, Tim Coghlan (Perimeter Editions, 2018)
- Herbarium, Tetsuya Yamakawa (Commune Press, 2015)
- Self-Portraits by Yurie Nagashima (Dashwood Books, 2020)
- A Kind of You, Roni Horn (Steidl/ACCA, 2007)
- Corbeau, Anne Golaz (Mack, 2017)
- Never standing on two feet, Clare Rae (Perimeter Editions, 2018)
- Looking for Love, Tom Wood (Cornerhouse, 1989)
- Ice and Water, Peter Fraser (Cornerhouse, 1993)
- Divine Retribution, Yury Toroptsov (self-published, 2012)
- Te Ahi Ka / The Fires of Occupation, Martin Toft (Dewi Lewis, 2018)
- Fond du Lac, Christian Patterson (http://www.christianpatterson.com/bottom-of-the-lake/#1)
- Sleep Creek, Dylan Hausthor & Paul Guilmoth (https://void.photo/sleepcreek)
- Unnamed Road, Jungjin Lee (MACK, 2014)
- From inside the fence, Anne Davies (a series of small handmade photobooks, 2020)
- These Rough Notes, Anne Noble (Victoria University Press, Wellington, 2012)
- Redheaded Peckerwood, Christian Patterson (MACK, 2013)
My Preparation Notes
I complied some notes for my books in the day or two leading up to this event.
Here are my notes, revised.
Mike Mandel, Larry Sultan 1977
Art Publishers, New York, 2017
10.1 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches [25.5 x 23.6 x 1.3 cm]
Originally published in 1977. This edition is from 2017.
From 1975-1977, Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel selected photographs from a multitude of images that previously existed solely within the boundaries of the industrial, scientific, governmental and other institutional sources from which they were mined. The project, “Evidence”, was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was one of the first conceptual photographic works of the 1970’s to demonstrate that the meaning of a photograph is conditioned by the context and sequence in which it is seen.
The resulting collection exhibits a brilliant sensibility for the absurd and a keen awareness of the complexity that the single image possesses when viewed outside its original context. Some of the photographs are hilarious, others are perplexing, but it’s in their isolation from their original context that these images take on meanings that address the confluence of industry and corporate mischief, ingenuity and pseudo-science. The book has been recognised as a precursor to subsequent postmodern strategies of photo practice.
Faber & Faber London UK 2017
6.5 x 1.26 x 8.98 inches [22.7 x 18.5 x 3.5cm]
Printed and bound in China
Teju Cole is a critic, novelist, photographer, and the author of four books: Every Day is for the Thief (novella), Open City (novel), Known and Strange Things (essays) and Blind Spot (photography and text).
The Act of remembering…
A writer who photographs…
In 2011, Cole woke up blind in one eye and required surgery to correct perforations in his retina. The medical emergency gave his work a new focus: “The photography changed after that. The looking changed.” He ponders the idea of cheating death by creating art that endures: “Poets die. They must. But the poems, if vital, give a light that each future age refracts in its particular lens.”
Long-term admirers of Cole may detect a slightly more urgent tone here, but thankfully the same ceaseless curiosity and polymathic intellect remains. Blind Spot is assuredly the work of an auteur, a singular talent.
The Guardian’s longer review of the book
Hear Teju Cole speak at the State Library of Victoria
Summer Nights 1985
High gloss printing
9.2 x 8.6 x 0.4 inches [23.4 x 22 x 1 cm]
Designer, Charles Mikolaycak
Printed in Hong Kong 1985
Summer Nights is a sequence of nightscapes photographed along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Adams’s attention to the subtleties of extreme light and dark emphasises his appeal to look again at places often overlooked. “What attracted me to the subjects at a new hour,” he observes, “was the discovery of a neglected peace.”
Summer Nights Walking 2009
8.7 x 8.8 x 0.6 inches [22.09 x 23.35 x 1.5 cm]
Designed by Katy Homans
Printed USA 2009
Robert Adams revisits the classic collection of nocturnal landscapes that he began making in the mid-1970s near his former home in Longmont, Colorado, originally published by Aperture in 1985 as Summer Nights. This exquisitely produced new edition has been carefully re-edited and re-sequenced by the photographer, who has added 39 previously unpublished images. Redesigned by revered book designer Katy Homans and printed as dry-trap tritone on uncoated paper by Meridian Printing. It is truly an “objet d’art” for the avid book collector.
Illuminated by moonlight and streetlamp, the houses, roads, sidewalks, and fields retain the wonder of the original edition, while adopting the artist’s intention of a dreamy fluidity. The extraordinary care taken with the new reproductions also conveys Adams’s appeal to look again at places we might have dismissed as uninteresting. Adams observes, “What attracted me to the subjects at a new hour was the discovery then of a neglected peace.”
This classic body of work, Summer Nights, Walking offers a reason to feel, once more, a regard for the quotidian American landscape that Adams reveals as still beautiful despite humanity’s intrusion.
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