Midwest Dirt by Nathan Pearce

Now it’s just after harvest time, my favorite time of year. The fields are almost cleared and I’m barefoot on my porch with a beer in my hand. I can see for miles.

For over a year now I have been working with Nathan to bring this fantastic project into corporeal existence and with the aid of Akina Factory who who created the book concept and design, the result is beautiful.

One of the toughest elements of editing this work is something Nathan has pointed out in a recent interview with Darwin Magazine – how the projects needed to move away from cliched depictions of the rural midwest but at the same time not disown culture and environment. While the geographical location rooted in the midwest, this project for me has always been about home, about home as a constant for good and bad. For this reason I hope it appeals to many.

If you are interested in buying the book you can head here.

To see more from the series, head here.

Midwest Dirt
Nathan Pearce

Edited by Matt Johnston
Book project by Akina Books Factory
Edition of 135
Hand sewn binding

The Second Meeting of the Photobook Club Hong Kong

Great to hear of the success of the first Photobook Club Hong Kong meeting as well as details of the next meeting (via Sarah Van Ingelgom) …

Photo Book Club Meeting
Saturday 10th of May 2014 | 4 pm
at the AO the Photo Book Center
Asia One Tower, 8 Fung Yip Street

Theme: the Japanese Photo Book
Moderator: Mark Pearson (from Zen Foto Gallery, Tokyo)

After the success of the first one, we are glad to announce our second Photo Book Club Meeting.

PBC was initiated in the UK as an initiative for informal gathering for photo book lovers to share their enthusiasm. Each meeting, guests are invited to bring their own favorite photo book or borrow one from the bookshop (please come a bit earlier if you wish to do so). Each guests will introduce the reasoning for their choice which typically unfolds into lively discussions. This is not a course or a workshop, nobody is wrong or right. PBC meetings aim to learn from each other and explore in a friendly interactive way. Photographers and photo book fanatics are very welcome but its not a must… just your enthusiasm is already appreciated a lot. Moreover, the meetings are FREE of charge.

For the first gathering we will choose ‘the Japanese photo book’ as a theme. The Japanese Photo Book is a unique genre on its own with a style of photographing unseen and very different than how it was done in the West until then. Leaders in the field were Araki and Daido Moriyama but there are also a lot of other famous and more obscure talents to be discovered.

Moderator will be Mark Pearson. Mark has been active in both exhibiting and publishing projects with Japanese artists through Zen Foto Gallery; a Tokyo based gallery specialize in Japanese photography.

Attached some pics of the first meeting…

Midwest Dirt by Nathan Pearce, ed by Matt Johnston – looking for support

I mentioned briefly when it was launched that I have been working with a talented Midwest photographer Nathan Pearce to bring his story and vision of the Midwest to more people in the form of a beautiful photobook.

If you want to help fund the project or find out more, you can do so on the indiegogo page but what I would really love is for you to listen to Nathan…

It was not lightly that I took on this project and there have been a number before and since that have simply not been a good fit but I am very interested to hear from anyone who may be interested in working alongside me on book projects or photography or any other medium provided it provokes memory or emotion.

– Matt

Cosecha 2013 – Bring/send your dummies!

News from Juan Cires of the Photobook Club Madrid that they will be holding a meeting on July 23rd inviting artists to present their photobook dummies – and if you cant make it, you can send via post – think I will get onto this myself! More…

Hi from the Photobook Club Madrid. We are organizing a new activity called Cosecha 2013 (Harvest 2013) with the Ivorypress bookstore. We will have a meeting of photobook artists on July 23rd to show bookdummies created this year. We will also have an exhibition at Ivorypress in September of the participating dummies. The event is open.

Ideally, the dummies should be presented in person by the author, but if anyone wants to participate but can’t make it to Madrid on July 23rd, it is possible to submit book dummies by post. Please e-mail info@photobookclubmadrid.com for instructions.

Thanks,

Juan.

Midwest Dirt, A Photobook by Nathan Pearce, edited by Matt Johnston

Dear all,

For a while now I have been working with photographer Nathan Pearce to edit his ‘Midwest Dirt‘ project into what will be a photobook towards the Autumn of this year. Nathan is seeking a modest amount of funding to realise the work as a physical artifact in exchange for some awesome Midwest rewards and I would love anyone interested to check out the project in more detail below.

I will have more on the work, and the process soon but for now, enjoy having a look

Matt

When I was 18 years old I packed my bags and left rural Illinois. It had been my home my entire life, but I thought in leaving I would find the perfect place for myself elsewhere. In the city everything and everyone I knew was very different from what I knew back home and yet at the same time familiar. The wild and restless days of my youth were in full swing. But when I awoke those mornings I still expected to see my old midwestern life.

Where I was living wasn’t exactly the wrong place for me, and at its core my life wasn’t drastically different, but it wasn’t home.
I came back home to live almost a decade later. I still have no idea if this time I will stay for good, I don’t know if that will ever happen.
The wild restless days and nights haven’t ceased.

Some nights when I lay down in my bed and close my eyes I fantasize that I didn’t ever return. I dream that I could get right back up and go over to my corner bar in the city and have a drink looking out on the crowded street.

But I’m not there. I’m here. In the country.

Now it’s just after harvest time, my favorite time of year. The fields are almost cleared and I’m barefoot on my porch with a beer in my hands. I can see for miles.

This project is about a time in my mid twenties when I can feel the tension between home and away.

– Nathan Pearce

 

 

Approaching Whiteness; If you can afford it – a triumph in content/communication

In part this is a genuine frustration but I should also say that I have spent my limited book budget for the year in just the first three months and so perhaps a good deal of my frustration is aimed at my own lack of self restraint.

Rinko Kawauchi teamed up with Ivan Vartanian/Goliga recently to realise her latest work ‘Approaching Whiteness‘. The result is a beautiful scroll with a set of images on it, there are 9 scrolls with different themes or images, each also has a silk-screened pattern in luminescent ink and calligraphy with sumi ink. Sounds great eh! Those amongst us who occasionally fetishize the photobook must be in heaven, but unfortunately this excessive beautifying may have gotten in the way of something much more valid for the photobook (at least for most of us) in the expansion of the reading experience.

From the Goliga site and video:
“The sequence of frames flow from right to left and connote the passage of time as an uninterrupted sequence. This idea extends to a larger philosophy that all things are connected.”

Of course the scroll is not a new invention and so perhaps it is over the top to call it a triumph in communication, but here is a photographer and publisher thinking beyond the bound book to the most suitable means of communicating a horizon to the viewer. I only wish the damn thing wasn’t £200+ pound for each version; surely a sign that this is being produced solely for the collector. There’s nowt wrong with collectors editions and making work specifically for them, hell I imagine that without the collectors money many projects would never be realised, much less break even. But what’s the alternative for the vast majority of us? Can we not enjoy this work as it is intended to be read, minus the rare wood, gold butterfly wings and price tag?

John Baldessari once said that every artist should have a “cheap line”. I imagine in 6 months time I shall be proved wrong about Approcahing Whiteness and Vartanian might bring out a non boxed scroll set or something similar for the masses but in the meantime I wish Baldessari was taken into account for this is a mainstream artist asking questions of the book that few others have dared to.

– Matt

Photobook Club Tokyo: meetup #3

Great news from Yoshikatsu Fujii who organizes the Photobook Club Tokyo:

Hi! Matt,

We have only two weeks before our next (and 3rd) meetup that we will hold in Tokyo on Mar. 9. 2013.

I’m pleased that Twelvebooks and Tokyo Institute of   photography (TIP) have offered to support us. Twelvebooks is a photobooks distributor in Japan and they have offered the latest MACK books to this meetup!

TIP is the center of photography in Japan and also publish the photo magazine “PHaT PHOTO“. They have assured us that they can help by lending a meeting place for future events.

As we are cooperating with each other on the meetup we will discuss the MACK books at TIP and We will invite a PHaT PHOTO’s chief editor to the meetup.

We are really pleased  that we have meet with a lot of response to our movement and we should not only hold meetup in Tokyo, but also another city in the near future.

Here is more information on this event:

Photobook Meet-Up in Tokyo (♯3)
collaborator: twelvebooks

Please join us Saturday, Mar. 9. 2013 from 2:00 to 5:00 pm.

TOKYO INSTITUTE OF PHOTOGRAPHY
exart bild. 1F, 3-6-6 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Entrance fee: 1000 yen
Spaces: 20

If you join our meetup. Please do not forget to Email me : tokyo.photobook.meetup@gmail.com

Sincerely,
Yoshikatsu

B*@t of 2012

Those of you who remember (and those of you who do not), last year I mentioned I would not enter into the ‘best of’ bonanza before proceeding to do just that by selecting 5 photobooks that had stood out to me in the ‘B*@t of 2011’ post.

This year I shan’t try to hide the fact that I have made a list but it’s not the regular ‘Best of 2012’ style. I simply haven’t spent time with enough new books this year to be able to give any sort of top ten or top twenty. Instead I will list those that I have enjoyed/been entertained/confused and educated by over the course of 2012 in a few different categories.

NB: It seems a contractual obligation now to trash ones own list or at least belittle/justify it before proceeding with the ‘main event’. I would like to think I started this last year but know that is not true. What I do no to be true – people like to make lists, it is a nice way to step back and perhaps try to learn something from our viewing habits and the themes that are drawing us in. People also like to read lists, it is always interesting to see whose taste is similar or differs wildly and then try to catch some of those books we have missed.

It is also great to see this year that a lot of the books from last years ‘Best’ lists have had very good second editions, most are available again at reasonable prices which offers some hope for this years ‘top books’. I dont think there is anything in my list that is particularly hard to get hold of at the moment but if there is drop me an email and I will loan out the book for free.
– Matt

Back to back:

I started by looking back at the books I chose last year. It is always pleasing to find out that the book you were gushing about 12 months ago is one that has continued to entertain and educate/frustrate over this past year. In this category fall two books from last years list:

Ken Schles: Oculus (2011)

Oculus

Watabe Yukichi: A Criminal Investigation (2011)

A Criminal Investigation

The Growers:

Redhead Peckerwood made a lot of lists last year and I am sure The Present will make many this year, they certainly both make mine, but it took some time.

Redhead Peckerwood took time only in as much as the curse of the photobook list made it almost impossible to get hold of for a good price until the second edition came out, and by this time I felt I could do without. Seeing it at Paris Photo made me change my mind and it was first in the suitcase. Following it was a book I never thought I would buy (especially after the ‘film‘ debacle) – Paul Graham’s ‘The Present‘ which really must be seen to be believed, the internet does not do justice to this book and this work; subtle and sweet but with a serious undercurrent. I would not be so bold as to say it is a must-own but a must-see for sure.

Christian Paterson: Redhead Peckerwood (2011)

Redhead Peckerwood

Paul Graham: The Present (2012)

The Present

Not a book, but also a book:

Two projects here that have had the guidance of Paradox in the Netherlands and are both much bigger than the books mentioned here. ‘Poppy‘ and ‘The Last Days of Shishmaref‘ are books, but they are also exhibitions, online galleries, blogs and educational resources; true transmedia projects that you can, and should get totally lost in. I expect ‘Poppy‘ will find it’s way onto many lists but ‘The Last Days of Shishmaref‘ (2008) has more heart and good intent than you can ignore.

Dana Lixenberg: The Last Days of Shishmaref (2008)

The Last Days of Shishmaref

Robert Knoth and Antoinette de Jong: Poppy (2012)

Poppy

Small and humble:

These books don’t try to change the world, nor do they seek to challenge our interpretations of the fluidity and omnipresence of a 2D world (or other such nonsense), instead they tell a small story, one that is engaging from start to finish and one that for a moment at least makes us think a little differently.

Peter Dekens: Touch (2012)

Touch

Theo Simpson and Adam Murray: Road and Rail Links Between Sheffield and Manchester (2012)

Road and Rail Links Between Sheffield and Manchester

Bird Watching:

Used to be a bit of a bird nut as a kid so maybe that is where my interest comes from but it seems photographers have been turning their lenses on the winged of late too. Three books I have thoroughly enjoyed this year that focus on the bird; there are more, but I have not seen them. The three here are all a bit of fun, at least on one level, Paloma al Aire is just straight up fun from page to page – and it puts a smile on my face to see people take such enjoyment from this ‘hobby/lifestyle’. Bird Watching is a great book and depending on how much time you spend with the book it will give you different messages; personally I don’t like to think too much when I look through this one, I enjoy it as a bird watchers notebook, I just wish the description ‘tags’ were stuck in rather than printed on the page.

Paula McCartney: Bird Watching (2010)

Bird Watching

Luka Felzmann: Swarm (2011)

Swarm

Ricardo Cases: Paloma al Aire (2011)

Paloma al Aire

The Great Outdoors:

A craving for a less concrete life has continued to manifest itself in the books I have been drawn to this past year. You could consider the above category linked in here but the following sum it up a little neater I suppose. I was also drawn to the array of ‘hessian-like’ covers this year on books like Erik van der Weidje’s ‘Superquadra‘ and ‘Reading Ed Ruscha‘.

Joel Meyerowitz: Legacy (2009)

Legacy

Paul Strand: The Garden at Orgeval (2012)

The Garden at Orgeval

Oscar Tuazon: Leave me be (2012)

Leave me be

Discussion at meetups:

The book that garnered the most discussion at meetup that I ran this year was, without doubt John Gossage’s ‘The Pond‘. For those that had not seen the work before it tended to be a love or hate kinda relationship (with more siding for love) and produced much conversation on sequencing and pace of photobooks.

John Gossage: The Pond (2012 orig. 1985)

The Pond

Niche:

Perhaps with the popularity of the New Topographics and in particular Baltz’s work, this will not be considered such a niche book, but it’s title sure sounds it. Also a possible contender for this category was the above mentioned ‘Road and Rail Links Between Sheffield and Manchester (2012)’

Jason Griffiths: Manifest Destiny: A Guide to the Essential Indifference of American Suburban Housing (2011)

Manifest Destiny

Notable Mention:

As I mentioned up top, this list doesn’t really constitute a best of, more a collection of books I found interesting for different reasons. The books below are on my desk and may have had a brief viewing but no more than that, they are included for the fact that they currently all excite me and i’m looking forward to exploring them more…

Geoff Winningham: Rites of Fall, High School Football in Texas (1979)
Lena Effendi:
Liquid Land (2012)
Filipe Casaca: Blue Mud Swamp (2012)
Peter Grasner: Was einem Heimat War (2012)
Hans Van Der Meer: The Netherlands off the shelf (2012)
Ben Roberts: Occupied Spaces (2012)