The box of books has been spending time in Tokyo, Canberra and Melbourne recently, the 13th, 14th and 15th stops on it’s world tour. If you haven’t yet gotten to the box, there might still be time – check out the route here or email to see if the box can detour to you.
Big thanks to Sean Davey, organizer of the Photobook Club in Canberra who has this report on the event and has also sent images…
On the 24th of November 2013, we at the Canberra Photobook Club in Australia took our turn in receiving the Photobook Club’s Box of Books at the Huw Davies Gallery at PhotoAccess. We usually only have small gatherings here in Canberra and this meeting was no exception, with an intimate group of five photobook lovers coming together to do some photography reading and to share ideas and reactions about the books.
As well as the Box of Books, the meeting hosted a few books that I brought back from a recent trip to Paris, including Minutes to Midnight and Christmas Tree Bucket by Trent Parke, Americolor by Dennis Church, Hot Days In Okinawa by Mao Ishikawa and Mandy & Eva by Willeke Duijvekam.
It was a real treat to open the box, not only for the books inside, but for the engaging material and hand written notes that accompanied them from other Photobook Club members who had already received the Box of Books. These tactile notes and fragments from other countries really held our attention and before we even go to the books, we read and passed around the notebook and included cards and photos.
It is always interesting to compare photo books when read in the company of others to when they are read alone in private, as one is compelled to communicate immediate feelings and thoughts about material that has only just been ingested, without the time for proper digestion. Like any appreciation, whether critical or acclaimed, time is of the essence when looking at, and absorbing visual art and communication. With two hours set aside for the meeting, it was always going to be rushed trying to read the books, let alone get a grasp of them all, as well as to have conversations about them.
Of the books that were included in the Box of Books,the one that received most attention and generated the most discussion was Interrogations by Donald Webber. The book is bleak, which ever way you look at it, from the harsh, night time landscapes to the frightening and severe images of people in police cells being threatened and interrogated. Along with the images, the group broadly agreed that the text presented in this book adds to the feeling of distress and hopelessness that Webber shows. At the end of the book, I for one felt spent at the experience of going through it, and then I imagined what life is like for the people who get caught up in such a system of threats and violence, all set amongst the unforgivable winter landscape of Russia and the Ukraine.
When our meeting ended, we had indeed discussed most of the books in the box as well as talked about the book making process and some of our own projects. Before we sealed the box, we were all delighted to sign the notebook and include a few cards and momentos from Canberra for the Photobook Clubs that were to receive the box after us.
Thank you to Matt Johnston and the publishers and artists who donated books for this project. We are a comparatively small club here in Canberra, but we are very happy to be part of the wider photobook club community.
Thanks to Stephanie Richter of the Monash Gallery of Art for holding the latest meetup in Australia, she will be writing a roundup of their activities soon but in the meantime…
The Box of Books was so great, there were about 12 of us and they all had a great time chatting about the different styles and bindings and most of all the ideas and narratives. I think the one I found most intriguing was Mrs. Merryman’s Collection by Anne Sophie Merryman.
Lots of debate about the truth behind the story and images, whether the fronts and backs correspond etc… wonderful.
– Stephanie Richter
A few images from the Photobook Club Campo de Gibraltar via it’s organizer, Angel Luis Duarte Sastre…