Review: Foto/Gráfica @ Le Bal

Le Bal’s latest exhibition, Foto/Gráfica: Une nouvelle histoire des livres de photographie latino-américains (A New History of Latin-American Photobooks) opened last week. The show is based on a selection of 40 books taken from Horacio Fernandez’s recently published book on books, The Latin-American Photobook (Aperture, 2011). This is not Le Bal’s first photobook exhibition—they presented Japanese Photobooks Now in the summer of 2011—but it is the first time that they have devoted their entire space to an exhibition of books. Following this show they will be hosting the 5th International Fotobook Festival, which is traditionally held in Kassel, so it seems that photobooks are becoming one of the major areas of focus of their programme.

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Posted in Exhibition reviews, Latin American photography, Photo-books | 2 Responses

On introspection, navel-gazing and nitpicking

Colin Pantall has written an interesting post on his blog regarding the many year-end ‘best photobooks of 2011′ lists that have been published of late. In the post he raises questions about this process, the role of “tastemakers” in today’s photobook market and discusses the need for the expansion of the photobook market. I started to respond to his post initially as a comment on his blog, but it got so out of hand that I decided to turn my response into a post of its own.

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Posted in Existentialist photo-ramblings, Photo-books | 16 Responses

Photobooks 2011: a view from Japan

As 2011 came to an end, I (somewhat foolishly) decided to compile the many ‘best photobooks of 2011′ lists that were popping up all over the internet to see whether there were any books that were consistently getting all the plaudits. The result is the previous post, a meta-list drawn compiling a total of 52 lists and 313 books. The final tally was reassuringly inconclusive: I’m not a big believer in the idea of absolutist Top 10s and the huge diversity of books that were selected is proof that there are great photobooks being made all over the place. However, it was also a reminder of just how many photobooks are being published and how few of them any one person is likely to see in a given year. I was particularly struck by the almost total absence of books published in Japan from these 52 lists (6 books out of 313!), particularly as two of the books with the most ‘votes’ were by Japanese photographers (Rinko Kawauchi’s Illuminance and Yukichi Watabe’s A Criminal Investigation). I thought it would be interesting to get a view from Japan, so I joined forces with Dan Abbe of Street Level Japan to ask some Japanese residents to pick out a few books that they enjoyed which were published in Japan in 2011. The contributors are: Dan Abbe, Nao Amino, Atsushi Fujiwara, Peter Evans, Ken Iseki, Ryosuke Iwamoto, Tomoe Murakami, John Sypal and Ivan Vartanian.

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Posted in Book reviews, Japanese photography, Photo-books | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Responses

Photobooks 2011: And the winner is…

The constant stream of best books of 2011 lists that have appeared in the past couple of weeks got me wondering whether there are any books that are getting all the plaudits. I have pulled together 52 lists in total (the final update to this post was made on 29 December), including my own, (the sources are listed at the bottom of the post). Some contrarians like Blake Andrews included books that weren’t published this year, but for this statistical exercise I have only included books that were published in 2011. After compiling the results (I gave 1 ‘vote’ to any book that was on any of these lists) one book has risen to the top of the pile with 19 votes. And the winner is…

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Posted in Photo-books | 39 Responses

Naoya Hatakeyama: a book and an exhibition

My most recent trip to Japan in October happily coincided with Naoya Hatakeyama’s first retrospective at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. Regular readers will know that I am a big fan of his work – and there is quite a lot of it – so I was curious to see how this exhibition, entitled Natural Stories, would be put together. The exhibition has now closed in Tokyo but opens at the Huis Marseille in Amsterdam today until the end of February 2012. To coincide with Natural Stories, Hatakeyama also released his latest book, Ciel Tombé, which I included on my best books of 2011 list, so I thought I would discuss them together here.

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Posted in Book reviews, Exhibition reviews, Japanese photography, Magazines, Photo-books | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Another best books of 2011 list…

I have given up, caved in, admitted defeat. Although the world does not need it, the temptation was just too great, so I have gone ahead and compiled a selection of my favourite books of the year. Instead of giving you a top 10 I decided to humbly borrow the format of the Oscars and select the best books by category (as with the Oscars, my categories are suitably ridiculous). So without further ado, I bring you the the official eyecurious Best Books of 2011.

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Posted in Book reviews, Collecting, Photo-books | 6 Responses

This is not a review: Paris Photo 2011

Paris is still recovering from the busiest week of the year on the photography calendar with the 2011 edition of Paris Photo which was held at the Grand Palais from 10-13 November and the many other events that pop up around it (Offprint, Nofound, Fotofever). In recent years Paris Photo has established itself as the most important photography art fair in Europe (maybe even in the world?) and this was a turning point for the fair. For it’s 15th birthday, Paris Photo gave itself a pretty big present in the form of a move from the not-exactly-shabby Caroussel du Louvre, which did suffer from a lack of space, air, seating and natural light, to the Grand Palais which has all of those in spades. The relocation was deemed controversial by some, as people were attached to the Caroussel du Louvre which had housed Paris Photo since its inception. There was also some concern that the size of the Grand Palais space would lead to a more impersonal, bloated fair that would lose the strong identity that Paris Photo had created for itself.

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Posted in African photography, American photography, Art Fairs / Festivals, European photography, Photo-books | 1 Response

Cornell Capa’s Peruvian suitcase

I spend quite a bit of time with photobooks, whether it be for this blog, it’s slightly less wordy Tumblr cousin, or just for my personal pleasure, but it is not often that I get to spend a day with a book like this one. In fact, it is not a book but a maquette for a book that was never published. Entitled Mario, it is a children’s photobook by Cornell Capa that tells the story of a young Peruvian boy named Mario. I’m not sure why it was never published but I understand that this maquette spent most of it’s life sitting on a shelf and that it has only recently resurfaced. So when I was given the opportunity to borrow the book for a day, I jumped at the opportunity.

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Posted in American photography, Book reviews, Collecting, Latin American photography, Photo-books | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Responses

The Wonder of it All

As a blogger I get sent several press releases a day for upcoming exhibitions, from the weird to the wonderful and everything in between. Although 95% of it doesn’t hold my interest, once in a while something stands out. The press release for the upcoming exhibition at Gallery 138 in New York of photographs and videos by Clark Winter entitled The Wonder of it All stopped me dead in my tracks.

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Posted in American photography, Exhibition reviews, Existentialist photo-ramblings, Tangents | Leave a comment

Review: Cary Markerink, Memory Traces

I should start by saying that this review is long overdue. This is partly due to the fact that my blogging activity has ground to a halt of late, but also because of Memory Traces itself. The book is an intimidating object consisting of one oversized (30.5 x 41 cm) volume weighing in at a hefty 202 pages accompanied by two smaller books, ‘Höffding Step’ and ‘Dark Star’, inset into a custom cardboard case. Memory Traces is not only intimidating but unwieldy. This is not a book that can be casually flicked through: it requires space (if only to support its weight and size) and time to get through its complex layout made up of gatefolds and double-gatefolds of different sizes. Its three-book structure is also complex and of course there is no easy instruction manual provided to tell you how to get started. However, while these first observations may come across as criticisms, it is precisely because Memory Traces is such a difficult book that it is so unique.

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Posted in Book reviews, European photography, Photo-books | 1 Response