Great to hear from Moritz Neumüller about the possibility of setting up a Photobook Club Aarhus — something which would extend the great conversations that happen around Aarhus Photobook Week throughout the year. If anyone is interested in attending, or has any ideas/locations etc. to share, please get in touch with Moritz.
Elsewhere, on Wednesday 22nd I will be presenting the Photobook Club’s Box of Books at an exciting conference called ‘Books and the City‘ in Maastricht. Along with a discussion of the box and intent, I will highlight the fantastic variety of events and outcomes of Photobook Club communities all over the world. It is only a brief paper but will be a good way to begin a more thorough survey of the Photobook Club, its organisers, attendees, conversations and locations.
It is silly to try and predict the turning point of the photobook – and of course there need not be one. But in cutting for sign we can surely see something is moving against the photobook – in a positive manner. I wrote about the photobook’s dull hierarchical conversations and the trend for contribution of content (and books) to a pointless cycle around the photobook for Code-X recently (a short chapter I hope to have online for free). It seems perhaps there was something in the water, or else everyone got fed up of hearing and seeing the same stuff again and again. A number of notable posts recently pick away at the veneer of the photobook scene as we see it represented by production, consumption, miss communication and poor thought.
These are some great starting points for a critical perspective…
Harvey Benge – Link Craig Atkinson Pt I – Link
Craig Atkinson Pt II – Link
Lewis Bush – Link
In the spirit of thought over reaction, i’m not going to add much here for now but spend more time with these pieces. I will finish with this though…
Craig Atkinson comments that
The main problem to my mind is that so much photography is made with no intent. People don’t know what to do with their pictures. Naturally, they want people to see them, so they head for Blurb, or Lulu and often never speak to a printer, never consider paper stock, typography, sequence, size, fold, edit…
To which it might be worth adding that perhaps worse than those who don’t make well made books, are those who do – who speak to the printer and get on the latest trendy designer – the artist formally known as SYB? They get gorgeous paper and interactive elements, only to realise that the book costs £40, they don’t have an audience beyond family and friends, and the book says nothing other than that they value style over communication.
The continuing presence of SPBH as an arbiter of the DIY spirit affirms Ceshel’s belief that self-publishing is an independent state of mind, an attitude as much as an aesthetic. “DIY culture,” he says, “is by its nature an ethic in opposition to society’s rules at large. It flourishes in environments of communitarian support, collaboration, and even informal barter economics. It is rooted in self-affirmation against a conformist and normative system … An army of young artists is undermining the greed-run system at its foundations, one page at a time.” Long may it flourish.
Over 2 million folks reached via the #WorldPhotobookDay tag on Twitter and Instagram is pretty awesome, but this report from Gabriela Cendoya (who has a great blog, here), a collector from Spain is so fantastic to hear about. One of the goals for this year’s event was to engage with non-photobook lovers and here Gabriela has certainly done that…
Images from Gabriela’s library
This year’s photo book day has been special. For the second time, it was an open house day, for all the people to come and enjoy the books.
Two friends came in the morning, wanting to see some books, planning to publish a book themselves, and looking for ideas and cool tips. It was nice seeing them and talking about their project, as they seemed to enjoy lots of books. One of them is a teacher, and we agreed that she would come back with some of her students to see some books and discuss about them. I think it is a great idea, and I really can’t wait to see it happen.
What happened in the afternoon was even greater for me. I live in a rather small town, a fishermen town. That doesn’t mean there is not much cultural life around, there is a nice public library and some interesting art galleries. But not much on photobooks, despite the fact that we are near Donostia, where we have a Photobook Club, and a very nice photo book shop…
Well, I invited some neighbors to come and see my house and books, explaining it was a day to celebrate. None of them knew exactly what was what we usually call a photobook. Some brought nice books with old pictures of Donostia, and other beautiful places, wondering if that was all right…And of course, it was! But then I showed them some of Julión Barón books, and well, that was something else! Rinko Kawauchi was somehow easier to love, and Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places a very good start for a very nice and rich conversation. Nami, by Syoin Kajii, was a beautiful way to feel in communion with each others.
In the end, it was a wonderful day, for me at last, and I hope, for all the people who came. Photobooks are a world within themselves, a world to share with everybody. Thanks, and see you next year!
Great news from Thousandfold in Manila, Philippines who will be celebrating the anniversary of the first photobook with book launches, an inaugural photobook club meeting and a bunch more. You can find out about the event and RSVP here…
Along with the rest of the world, Thousandfold, as the first photobook library in Manila, invites you to join in celebrating The Photobook, born in 1843. October 14th marks the anniversary of the purchase by the British Museum of the first known photobook: Photographs of British algae. Cyanotype impressions, by Anna Atkins.
Rikard Osterlund and Tracey Affleck have just launched the Photobook Club Rocherster with an opening night on October 15th at INTRA. The event is free but sign up required here. More information from Rikard below…
Come along to an informal evening all about photo books. This is the first of what we are hoping will become a monthly get-together where you might be inspired by something you haven’t seen before.
To kick things off we will talk about ‘The Americans’, Robert Frank’s groundbreaking book from 1958. You are welcome to BYOP (Bring Your Own Photobook – bought or made) for everyone to look at and chat about. Anyone with an interest in the photobook format is welcome.
Date: Thursday 15th October
Time: 20.00-22.00 (turn up a bit earlier)
Location: INTRA, 337 – 341 High Street, Rochester, Kent ME1 1DA
Hashtag away on social media #PhotoBC #RochesterPBC
We have been wanting to do this for a long time and can’t wait to get a group of likeminded people together.
Rikard Österlund is a freelance photographer with an irrational love for photobooks, with many years experience as a photography lecturer at UCA and London College of Fashion.
Tracy Affleck is a photographer/artist and educational facilitator who works primarily with found photographs.
…and I will be running an event in Coventry which is open to as many as can fit in the room (email firstname.lastname@example.org ). There will be other events popping up all over the shop but right now there is something you can do.
“I saw this and thought of you” – Share your books
It is easy to excite fellow photobook nerds with the contents of my bookshelf. Much harder to interest my colleagues, family and friends who have little interest in the medium itself – though I try, often. Many times my waxing lyrical about design and production falls on deaf ears – not that this suggests a need for further discussion and education – a more powerful force is at work here. The books that resonate are those that the reader likes – straight up – likes. It might be the project, it might be the book, it might be the photographs or the cover – who cares.
When I manage to excite someone with a photobook, someone for whom the photobook is not the perfect medium of artistic expression, I have achieved something. Not only in extending the reach of the photobook, bringing work to a new audience, but also in overcoming my own photobook snobbery. I still get something from this encounter too – the book in question might have fallen out favour and found itself relegated to the edges of the shelf, but hearing someone speaking about it passionately, and unfettered by judgement helps remind me why I bought it in the first place.
So, this photobook day, spread the love by sharing something you think someone will like, not something you think they should like. Oh, and if you get a chance, let us know the book you chose and what the reaction was #PhotobookDay.
Really excited to be running a workshop with Daniel Donnelly in Casablanca this September (4th – 6th) for locals, both professional, amateur and interested. The 3 day workshop will focus on connecting with an audience through edit and design but will also feature a binding tutorial.
Great to hear about this experimental workshop and reading session in Barreiro that looks to explore links between photography and dance. Thanks to Sofia Matos for the report and images…
24st may | Auditório Municipal Augusto Cabrita
Studies for the Impossible Body
Magda Fernandes (Imagérie – Casa de Imagens)
Studies for the Impossible Body is a series of little artist books that document the making of the Impossible Body project, developed in a photography workshop, in partnership with the photographer Susana Paiva and the Olga Roriz Dance Company, in Lisbon.
In pursuit of an elusive territory, that could be inhabited by photography and dance simultaneously, there were many dead ends and bifurcations along the way. These books are diaries of experimentation and exercise books at the same time, and they speak, through images and words, of discovery, as well as of the infinity and the poetry that emanate from the dancing body.