Tag Archives: Nazraeli Press

David Maisel, Terminal Mirage 2

David Maisel, Terminal Mirage 2

David Maisel

Terminal Mirage 2,
vicinity of the Great Salt Lake, Utah, 2003
From the Terminal Mirage series
Website – DavidMaisel.com

David Maisel was born in New York City in 1961. He received his BA from Princeton University, and his MFA from California College of the Arts, in addition to study at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. Maisel was a Scholar in Residence at the Getty Research Institute in 2007 and an Artist in Residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts in 2008. Maisel’s photographs, multi-media projects, and public installations have been exhibited internationally, and are included in many public collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Victoria & Albert Museum; the Brooklyn Museum of Art; the Santa Barbara Museum of Art; the Yale University Art Gallery; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among others. His work has been the subject of four monographs: The Lake Project (Nazraeli Press, 2004), Oblivion (Nazraeli Press, 2006), Library of Dust (Chronicle Books, 2008), and History's Shadow (Nazraeli Press, 2011). His newest book, Black Maps: American Landscape and the Apocalyptic Sublime, will be available in Fall 2012. He lives and works in the San Francisco area.

A Natural Order by Lucas Foglia

From urban beekeeping to artisanal pickling, there’s an uptick in America’s interest in doing it ourselves. Photographer Lucas Foglia has been in touch with this pre-consumer age mindset his entire life, having grown up on a small Long Island farm where, he says, his family “heated our house with wood, farmed and canned our food, and bartered the plants we grew for everything from shoes to dental work.” For the past five years the Yale-trained artist has been photographing a network of off-the-gird communities in the southeastern United States. The work has just been published in a lush, large-format monograph, A Natural Order.

Tucked away in the woods and fields of rural Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia, some of the communities Foglia visited are religious, others are united by a passion for embracing ancestral ways of hunting, foraging and building, others are motivated by predictions of global economic collapse.

Foglia’s subjects live with equal measure grit and beauty. In one photo, a toddler in a grubby, winged fairy dress reclines on a quilt and gazes at the sky, a gnawed venison rib clutched in one hand. In another, a salvaged sink is propped on boards, and tucked into edenic bramble. His photos of interiors highlight their simple rustic allure, is if shot for a high-end design magazine for survivalists. A bathroom painted in a hip shade of teal features an abundance of fluffy monogrammed towels, pillar candles on a rough-hewn pedestal; in the claw-foot tub a butchered deer soaks, the seeping haunches surrounded in watermelon-pink bathwater.

The stories of what compelled any given individual to pursue this experience are untold in A Natural Order. Instead, through Foglia’s keen eye for detail and tremendous sense of composition, we simply get a glimpse of their way of life. However, clothing—or, alternatively, the lack thereof—clues us in as to which type of group they might belong. There are some long-haired parents and their cherubic children in their natural state. There are those wearing self-styled outfits made of hides and natural fibers. And there are Christian women and girls who wear modest homemade frocks, even in the swimming hole.

The general theme Foglia has taken on has been touched on by other contemporary art photographers over the last ten years, including Justine Kurland, Joel Sternfeld and Taj Forer. However, Foglia is particularly interested in the way these communities straddle the ancestral and the modern, as his own family did. “They do not wholly reject the modern world. Instead, they step away from it and choose the parts that they want to bring with them,” says Foglia of his subjects. Interested readers can even ferret out the websites of some of the communities he includes, and find themselves tempted to go there and take classes on traditional building or foraging for food. One can also gain insight—and learn real skills— from, Wildifoodin’ the anonymously –authored, illustrated ‘zine included with the book. Part journal, part survival manual, it reads like a poet’s version of the Whole Earth Catalog, the bible for 1970’s back-to-the-landers.

Foglia’s book implies that there is a new movement afoot, one whose philosophies are diverse, but all share self-reliance as a key value. If so, it’s right on time, economically speaking. In an era when houses can be foreclosed, and most of our food is from unknown sources, the beauty that Foglia’s pictures captures is a recognition of human needs: the needs to create, and to control our destinies.

A Natural Order is published by Nazraeli Press. You can see more of Lucas Foglia’s work here.

Joanna Lehan is a writer and curator living in New York City.

Leon Borensztein’s ‘American Portraits’

More often than not, some of the best observers of places are those not originally from there. Leon Borensztein was born in Poland, settled in Israel and emigrated only later in life to the U.S. in 1977. But unlike de Tocqueville and other aristocratic travelers of old, he had to make ends meet and stumbled into taking commercial pictures of average, normal Americans as a fly-by-night job to pay the bills. Borensztein’s portraits—comprised in his new book, American Portraits, 1979–1989, published this month by Nazraeli Press—took place on the sidelines of commercial gigs. His tools and techniques were dictated by his means: a generic backdrop, a camera, simple and spare.

Yet the depth and quality of Borensztein’s oeuvre place him in a storied canon of chroniclers of America, stretching past those intrepid visionaries of the Farm Security Administration, photographers who voyaged out into a country blighted by the Depression and returned with snapshots of its soul — weary, defiant, beautiful. Early portrait photography — be it conducted by socialist sympathizers during the New Deal or the ethnographic work of turn-of-the-century imperialists — all sought after a kind of authenticity. Gone was the age of outsized oil-canvas monarchs. Now was the time of the quotidian and real, a moment imbued not only with a sense of place, but of human feeling.

Borensztein brings this tradition to bear in his work, but does not belabor it. There is, after all, as the first picture above of the man in Native American headdress makes plainly clear, an artifice involved. He shot modest homes, inhabited by unassuming people. He instructed his subjects specifically not to smile, a marked contrast from the faux-mirth and conviviality of his commercial work, which often relied on the same subjects. Reflecting on what the portraits represented, Borensztein once suggested his “black and white images reflect the alienation so typical of today’s America.”

But even a brief sampling of his pictures would communicate far more to the viewer. They are at once hemmed with a wry, sardonic edge, yet brim over with Borensztein’s genuine empathy for his subjects. Still, “they are not sentimental,” writes Sandra S. Philips, a curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Borensztein gives us a world of feeling with a light, almost imperceptible touch. The subjects radiate loneliness and coziness, an empty despair and a glowing hope for the future. Gazing at Borensztein, the man with the camera and that background, “they partly represent him,” writes Philips. “They partake of his curiosity, amazement and tenderness when he looked at these American people.”

Leon Borensztein’s book American Portraits, 1979–1989, was published this month by Nazraeli Press.

Ishaan Tharoor is a writer-reporter for TIME and editor of Global Spin. Find him on Twitter at @ishaantharoor.

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…

1st Place (19 votes)
Redheaded Peckerwood, Christian Patterson (Mack)

2nd Place (14 votes)
A Criminal Investigation, Yukichi Watabe (Xavier Barral/Le Bal)
Illuminance, Rinko Kawauchi (Aperture)

3rd Place (10 votes)
Paloma al aire, Ricardo Cases (Photovision)

4th Place (9 votes)
Gomorrah Girl, Valerio Spada (Self-published)

5th Place (8 votes)
A, Gregory Halpern (J&L Books)

6th Place (7 votes)
Series, Enrique Metinides (Kominek Books)

7th Place (6 votes)
Photographic Memory: The Album in the Age of Photography, Verna Posever Curtis (Aperture)
A New Map of Italy, Guido Guidi (Loosestrife Editions)
The Suffering of Light, Alex Webb (Aperture)

8th Place (5 votes)
The Place we Live, Robert Adams (Yale University Press)
Salt & Truth, Shelby Lee Adams (Candela Books)
In the Shadow of Things, Léonie Hampton (Contrasto)
The Brothers, Elin Høyland (Dewi Lewis)
Permanent Error, Pieter Hugo (Prestel)
Rwanda 2004: Vestiges of a Genocide, Pieter Hugo (Oodee)
Magnum Contact Sheets, Kristen Lubben (Thames & Hudson)
Animals that Saw Me, Ed Panar (The Ice Plant)
Redwood Saw, Richard Rothman (Nazraeli Press)
The New York Times Magazine Photographs, Kathy Ryan (ed.) (Aperture)
First Pictures, Joel Sternfeld (Steidl)
Is this Place Great or What, Brian Ulrich (Aperture)
Visitor, Ofer Wolberger (Self-published)

9th Place (4 votes)
C.E.N.S.U.R.A, Julián Barón (Editorial RM)
Dirk Braeckman (Roma Publications)
People in Trouble, Laughing, Pushing Each Other to the Ground, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin (Mack)
Fragile, Raphaël Dallaporta (Editions GwinZegal)
The Unseen Eye, W. M. Hunt (Aperture)
Pontiac, Gerry Johansson (Mack)
Seacoal, Chris Killip (Steidl)
Koudelka: Gypsies, Josef Koudelka (Aperture)
Lang Zal Ze Levan, Anouk Kruithof (Self-published)
Iraq / Perspectives, Ben Lowy (Duke University Press)
History’s Shadow, David Maisel (Nazraeli Press)
pretty girls wander, Raymond Meeks
Believing is Seeing, Errol Morris (Penguin Press)
Mom & Dad, Terry Richardson (Mörel Books)
The Heath, Andy Sewell (Self-published)

10th place (3 votes)
La Creciente, Alejandro Chaskielberg (Nazraeli Press)
Abendsonne, Misha de Ridder (Schaden.com)
Chromes, William Eggleston (Steidl)
Films, Paul Graham (Mack)
Mexico Roma, Graciela Iturbide (RM Editorial)
Sunday, Paul Kooiker (van Zoetendaal)
On Thin Ice, In a Blizzard, Paula McCartney (Self-published)
You and I, Ryan McGinley (Twin Palms)
One to Nothing, Irina Rozovsky (Kehrer)
83 Days of Darkness, Niels Stomps (Kominek Books)
A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters, Taryn Simon (Steidl)
The Bridge at Hoover Dam, James Stillings (Nazraeli Press)
Les Amies de Place Blanche, Christer Strömholm (Dewi Lewis)
Abstract Pictures, Wolfgang Tillmans (Hatje Cantz)
Photographs, Penelope Umbrico (Aperture)
Interrogations, Donald Weber (Schilt)
Conductors of the Moving World, Brad Zellar (Little Brown Mushroom)

11th place (2 votes)
Half Life, Michael Ackerman (Dewi Lewis)
Unmarked Sites, Jessica Auer (Les Territoires)
Candlestick Point, Lewis Baltz (Steidl)
A Guide to Trees for Governors and Gardeners, Yto Barrada (Deutsche Guggenheim)
One Day: Ten Photographers, Harvey Benge (Kehrer)
Tibet: Culture on the Edge, Phil Borges (Rizzoli)
War Primer 2, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin (Mack)
Eden is a Magic World, Miguel Calderón (Little Big Man)
The King of Photography, Tiane Doan Na Champassak (Self-published)
Double Life, Kelli Connell (Decode Books)
A Falling Horizon, Heidi de Gier (Fw:)
Subway, Bruce Davidson (Aperture)
The Latin American Photobook, Horacio Fernández (Aperture)
The Vanities, Larry Fink (Schirmer/Mosel)
In the Picture: Self-Portraits 1958-2011, Lee Friedlander (Yale University Press)
Color Correction, Ernst Haas (Steidl)
Astronomical, Mishka Henner (Self-published)
No Man’s Land, Mishka Henner (Self-published)
Afterwards, Nathalie Herschdorfer (ed.) (Thames & Hudson)
Celebrity, Kenji Hirasawa (Bemojake)
Playground, Jeroen Hofman (Self-published)
Safety First, Rob Hornstra (The Sochi Project)
Sochi Singers, Rob Hornstra (The Sochi Project)
In Almost Every Picture 9, Erik Kessels (Kesselskramer)
A Head with Wings, Anouk Kruithof (Little Brown Mushroom)
The Sea, Mark Laita (Abrams)
Pilgrimage, Annie Liebovitz (Random House)
Tooth for an Eye, Deborah Luster (Twin Palms)
God Forgotten Face, Robin Maddock (Trolley)
Street Photographer, Vivian Maier (Powerhouse)
Carnal Knowledge, Malerie Marder (Violette Editions)
7 Rooms, Rafal Milach (Kehrer)
Mark Morrisroe, Mark Morrisroe (JRP Ringier)
Burke + Norfolk: Photographs from the War in Afghanistan by John Burke and Simon Norfolk, Simon Norfolk (Dewi Lewis)
Hard Ground, Michael O’Brien (University of Texas Press)
As Long as it Photographs, It Must be a Camera, Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs (Self-published)
Core Curriculum: Writings on Photography, Tod Papageorge (Aperture)
Swiss Photobooks from 1927 to the Present, Peter Pfrunder (ed.) (Prestel)
Photographs 2001-2009, Ken Rosenthal (Self-published)
Oculus, Ken Schles (Noorderlicht/Aurora Borealis)
Hurricane Story, Jennifer Shaw (Broken Levee Books)
Subscription Series 3, Mark Steinmetz (TBW Books)
Summertime, Mark Steinmetz (Nazraeli Press)
Dessau, Bill Sullivan (Kaugummi Books)
Nomad, Jeroen Toirkens (Lannoo)
Self Publish Be Naughty, Various (Self Publish Be Happy)
Chinese Sentiment, Shen Wei (Charles Lane Press)
Waikiki, Henry Wessel (Steidl)
The Lost Photographs of Captain Scott, David M. Wilson (Little, Brown & Co.)

So there it is. The meta ‘best of’ list. A few points worth noting. I have only included books that got more than 1 vote. There were 313 books nominated in the 52 lists that I used to compile this meta-list. It’s fascinating to see that there is so little consensus on the ‘best’ books of the year and that there is such a broad playing field. There are books on here that were printed in editions of several thousand copies and books that were printed in editions of less than 100. Some artists even managed to get nominated for several books produced in the same year. I’d like to leave you with a final recommendation: remember, these rankings are totally subjective, meaningless and even nonsensical. It’s hard to resist looking at these lists (although if I see another list at this stage, I will probably have to take my own life), but remember that there are hundreds of other books that are just as good if not better than these.

Sources: Brainpickings, The 11 best photography books of 2011; Sean O’Hagan (The Guardian), Photography books of the year 2011; American Photo, The best photobooks of 2011; Alec Soth, Top 20 photobooks of 2011; Rémi Coignet & Maria-Karina Bojikian, Livres de photographie: notre sélection 2011; Le Monde, Ouvrages de fête à savourer (Photographie); Jörg Colberg, My favourite photobooks this year; Tom Claxton, 2011 photobook highlights; Corey Presha, Favorite Books of 2011; Bridget Coaker, Photography Books of the Year; Yannick Bouillis, Favorite photobooks; Bart Peters, 10 favourite photobooks of 2011; Claire de Rouen, Xmas Top Ten; BJP, The best photobooks of 2011; Blake Andrews, Photography Books; Conor Donlon, Favourite Books of 2011; Sebastian Hau, “books that engaged me the most”; Larissa Leclair, The Best Books of 2011 (self and indie published); Willem Van Zoetendaal, Favorite Books of 2011; Rob Hornstra, Top Photo Books 2011; Marcel Du, Best of 2011 photobooks; Photobookstore, Our favourite photobooks of 2011; Elizabeth Avedon and friends, 2011 best photography books; NY Times Photo Department, Our Top 10 Photo Books of 2011; Time, Best of 2011: The Photobooks We Loved; Photo-eye (26 contributors), The Best Books of 2011; Laurence Vecten, 7 livres photographiques du moment, à feuilleter au coin du feu; Me, Another best books of 2011 list.

Before I sign off this post, it is worth remembering that there is also another way to cut this ‘best photobook’ cake and that is sales. This is how the list ends up looking based on sales (according to this article by PDN):

1. Simply Beautiful Photographs (National Geographic)
2. The Great LIFE Photographers (Little, Brown & Co.)
3. The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton (LIFE)
4. One Nation: America Remembers September 11, 2001, 10 Years Later (Little, Brown & Co.)
5. Portraits of Camelot: A Thousand Days in the Kennedy White House (Abrams)
6. In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits (National Geographic)
7. The President’s Photographer: Fifty Years Inside the Oval Office (National Geographic)
8. Decade (Phaidon)
9. Edward S. Curtis: Visions of the First Americans (Chartwell)
10. Wonders of LIFE: A Fantastic Voyage Through Nature (LIFE)

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Related posts:

  1. Photobooks 2011: a view from Japan
  2. Review: Japanese photobooks of the 1960s and ’70s
  3. Another best books of 2011 list…

Christopher Churchill on American Faith

In 2004, Christopher Churchill began a personal journey with his vintage Deardorff 8×10 camera, driving thousands of miles across the country to photograph what he describes as “an America that felt divided” and “caught in the middle of a cultural tension.” It was three years after the attacks on September 11, 2001 and the photographer was noticing a palpable intolerance in the country. “Questions of what or who was considered American were very prevalent,” Churchill says. “And religion was in the middle of this debate.” This feeling led him to start asking people about their faith, and the resulting journey is the subject of his Chuchill’s first monograph, American Faith, published this month by Nazraeli Press.

In the introduction of the book, Churchill says, “I had assumed that in order to have faith in your life you must be religious. However, when I would ask individuals I encountered through my travels what they placed their faith in, their responses would be something much more universal and simple than religion.”

Churchill had no specific plan when he set out on the road, but followed an intuitive journey where one subject led to the next. How does someone document a faith or an idea that’s invisible? Churchill began by making formal yet intimate portraits of his subjects. Then he carefully weaved in recorded responses from his subjects to his questions about their beliefs. Thomas Putman of Ponca City, Oklaholma, who was photographed holding his young son, told Churchill, “I believe in God. But everybody has a different belief, and as long as it furthers you in life and gives you a better perspective on the things you do in life, then I don’t really care what you believe in.” The response is one of tolerance mixed with independence that feels intrinsic to American culture.

In the book, portraits are interspersed with landscapes and documentary photographs, adding contemplative spaces. In a photograph of tourists looking out at the majesty of the Grand Canyon, Churchill conjures ideas of American transcendentalism, which holds the idea that one must find themselves thought self reflection, which often takes place alone in nature. An image of such idyll could feel slightly ironic or trite, but not in the style of Churchill’s work. He creates a tableau in soft black and white, where the viewer is gently presented with a space to ponder the majesty themsleves.

Churchill himself was not raised with religion. “I find my faith these days is in my family, the kindness of strangers and or course photography,” he says. “I’ve found that if I can get my brain past the obstacles of any given day and think about time from a larger perspective, there seems to be a path that is perfectly sequential and beyond coincidental. And I find great faith in that.”

American Faith was published this month by Nazraeli Press.

Christopher Churchill is a photographer based in Massachusetts. See more of his work here

David Maisel: History’s Shadow

All images ©David Maisel

As we gear up for the launch of our next issue, 1000 Words new Editorial assistant, Sean Stoker, takes some time out from prepping to peruse this recently released title from Nazraeli Press and is impressed with the spectral qualities of the photographs within.

While working at the Getty Research Institute in LA, David Maisel was confronted by a 12 foot high x-ray pinned to a window, rear-lit from outside. The subject of that x-ray, a small, drab painting, was left in the wake of its copy, overshadowed by the blown up x-ray. Inspired by this discovery, Maisel trawled through the archives of x-rays of old museum artefacts, uncovering these ghostly emanations of light, and then scanning, re-photographing and digitally manipulating the images earmarked for the project.

Those images now grace the pages of Maisel’s latest book History’s Shadow which, like many of his previous projects, illustrates a keen interest in the manner in which photography can combine art, science and a sense of humanity. While the work is also about the processes of memory, excavation and transformation it is really photography itself that is arguably the main focus of this project, and Maisel uses the x-ray to examine its inherent flaws with issues of space, depth and scale. Some images seem to emerge from the page itself, while others float in their black surroundings, yet they transcend mere images of objects, and become sculptural in their own right; a truly convincing illusion of three-dimensional space rendered on the two-dimensional page. In Maisel’s words,”they becomes a vast nether world, and in others becomes the velvety ground of some kind of brain scan/portrait.” Some are more successful at this than others, yet together, the images manage to reference the history of photographic practice – recalling the mysterious long exposures and amateur scientific studies of the medium’s early years – and the history of art (x-rays have historically been used by art conservators for structural examination of art and artefacts), which is not just limited to icons of Western art.

The x-ray empowers us with an all-seeing, piercing gaze that distorts our perception while it transports us to a ghostly, ephemeral world in which everything appears too delicate to touch, that we may extinguish these glowing forms. Here, inside becomes out, and out becomes in. We are confronted with everything simultaneously, overwhelmed by fragile veils of light and plunging depths of darkness as space and time collapse and compound. It is within these objects that we see traces of the artist’s hand, suggestions of a human presence and structural details that invoke a curiosity within us, not only to understand the vestiges and indicators of past societies, but to also comprehend ourselves and our future.

What I most enjoy about this book is also what I most enjoy in photography as a whole; despite its apparent complexity and tendency to over-theorise itself, it is often its simplest aspects that are the most interesting. History’s Shadow, while intricate and well considered, represents the essense of photography: the presence and absence of light, the shape-shifting nature of time and the curiosity to see what cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Sean Stoker

David Maisel: History’s Shadow

All images ©David Maisel

As we gear up for the launch of our next issue, 1000 Words new Editorial assistant, Sean Stoker, takes some time out from prepping to peruse this recently released title from Nazraeli Press and is impressed with the spectral qualities of the photographs within.

While working at the Getty Research Institute in LA, David Maisel was confronted by a 12 foot high x-ray pinned to a window, rear-lit from outside. The subject of that x-ray, a small, drab painting, was left in the wake of its copy, overshadowed by the blown up x-ray. Inspired by this discovery, Maisel trawled through the archives of x-rays of old museum artefacts, uncovering these ghostly emanations of light, and then scanning, re-photographing and digitally manipulating the images earmarked for the project.

Those images now grace the pages of Maisel’s latest book History’s Shadow which, like many of his previous projects, illustrates a keen interest in the manner in which photography can combine art, science and a sense of humanity. While the work is also about the processes of memory, excavation and transformation it is really photography itself that is arguably the main focus of this project, and Maisel uses the x-ray to examine its inherent flaws with issues of space, depth and scale. Some images seem to emerge from the page itself, while others float in their black surroundings, yet they transcend mere images of objects, and become sculptural in their own right; a truly convincing illusion of three-dimensional space rendered on the two-dimensional page. In Maisel’s words,”they becomes a vast nether world, and in others becomes the velvety ground of some kind of brain scan/portrait.” Some are more successful at this than others, yet together, the images manage to reference the history of photographic practice – recalling the mysterious long exposures and amateur scientific studies of the medium’s early years – and the history of art (x-rays have historically been used by art conservators for structural examination of art and artefacts), which is not just limited to icons of Western art.

The x-ray empowers us with an all-seeing, piercing gaze that distorts our perception while it transports us to a ghostly, ephemeral world in which everything appears too delicate to touch, that we may extinguish these glowing forms. Here, inside becomes out, and out becomes in. We are confronted with everything simultaneously, overwhelmed by fragile veils of light and plunging depths of darkness as space and time collapse and compound. It is within these objects that we see traces of the artist’s hand, suggestions of a human presence and structural details that invoke a curiosity within us, not only to understand the vestiges and indicators of past societies, but to also comprehend ourselves and our future.

What I most enjoy about this book is also what I most enjoy in photography as a whole; despite its apparent complexity and tendency to over-theorise itself, it is often its simplest aspects that are the most interesting. History’s Shadow, while intricate and well considered, represents the essense of photography: the presence and absence of light, the shape-shifting nature of time and the curiosity to see what cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Sean Stoker