Tag Archives: Photobooks

Best photobooks of 2012: Chris McCaw’s "Sunburn" (one of 10)

mccaw-sunburn_12.jpg

From the book, Sunburn, by Chris McCaw.
Sunburned GSP#576 (Annular Eclipse, Nevada), 2012.
Unique gelatin silver paper negative. 20 x 24 inches.

Chris McCaws new (and first) monograph, Sunburn, is perhaps my favorite photobook of 2012. It is generous in size, elegantly designed, beautifully printed and the images are truly awe-inspiring. squido lense .

See and read more.

“Re-Visioning” – Rebecca Norris Webb’s My Dakota

“Re-Visioning” - Rebecca Norris Webb’s My Dakota

A conversation with Darius Himes & David Chickey

Editor's Note: I'm a Midwesterner so when I learned about Rebecca Norris Webb's My Dakota the project immediately caught my eye. It's one of my favorite photobooks published in 2012 and I'm thrilled to share her images and ideas with you here. For more information and to order a copy for your home library, visit RadiusBooks.org. — AA

 

Darius Himes: Becky, you grew up in South Dakota, correct? Why did you leave?

Rebecca Norris Webb: I was born in a Rushville, Indiana, and then moved to South Dakota when I was 15. Looking back, it may very well have been my first glimpse of those Western skies of South Dakota — from the backseat of my dad’s 1964 Chrysler 300 — that later turned me into a color photographer. I’d never seen skies so spectacularly blue, except perhaps in Technicolor Westerns. Those big, seemingly endless blue Great Plains skies spoke to the daydreamer I was then — and the photographer I am today.

After I finished a master’s degree in poetry from the University of South Dakota, for some reason my poetry deserted me. Looking back, I realize that perhaps the kind of lyric poetry I was writing during college had become too restrictive, too limiting. It didn’t contain enough of the world, and my curiosity about it. To break through the writer’s block, I decided to apply for a passport and travel for a year, buying a camera in order to take “visual notes” for perhaps a future project. What happened instead is that I fell in love with photography. It was only after taking a year of photography classes in Seattle and in New York, however, that I had an epiphany: I realized that the eye that took the photographs was the same eye that saw the images in my poetry. I think the Nebraska photographer and writer, Wright Morris, said it best: “I don’t give up the camera eye when I write, merely the camera.”

David Chickey: What was your original plan or vision for your My Dakota?

Rebecca Norris Webb: When I started the project, all I knew for sure then was that I’d lived in New York City for some 15 years and still described myself — in the writer Dawn Powell's words — as “a permanent visitor” because New York had never quite felt like home. Photographing that first year in South Dakota, I remember being a little overwhelmed trying to work in that vast landscape with a small format camera. I considered switching to a larger format, until I realized that one of the things that intrigued me most about the Great Plains was the challenge of trying to capture a more spontaneous and intimate vision of the West, a vision akin to the vision of some of the women writers from the region like Willa Cather from Nebraska, Louise Erdrich from North Dakota, and Marilynne Robinson from Idaho. For Robinson, the West is “mysterious, aloof, and rapturously gentle.” Photographing the prairies and badlands that first summer, I was hoping to capture a sense of what all that space feels like to someone who grew up there.

Darius Himes: Living on the Great Plains involves a great deal of driving to do, well, basically anything. You've mentioned that you think of this as a "road-trip" book, a genre that has a long and storied history in photography. Tell us about how this book fits into that tradition.

Rebecca Norris Webb: Well, to begin with, this project began with a road trip in 2005: Alex and I drove from our Brooklyn neighborhood to my hometown in Hot Springs, South Dakota, a journey of some 1700 miles, in our old Saab, which we’d bartered photographic prints for earlier that year. Alex then flew back East, and I had a summer to explore my home state photographically. I’ve learned over the years to follow wherever a project may lead me, so I don’t think I consciously thought that My Dakota would necessarily become a road-trip book like The Americans, although photographing in the West brought to mind some of my favorite Frank photographs, such as “Butte, Montana, 1956,” which he photographed through the sheer curtains of his hotel room’s window.

I’ve always marveled at how Frank managed to capture not only the feel of this Montana mining town’s drab downtown, but also a sense of something else more complicated and difficult to pin down (Melancholy? Irony? Reverie? A mix of all three?), something that suggests a kind of complex interiority of the poetic Swiss-born Frank as he gazed out from his hotel room at the bleak reality of what the once legendary American West had become by the mid 1950’s. It’s a view that shouldn’t “merit a second glance,” according to the cultural critic Geoff Dyer, yet “it demands that we return to it again and again.” For me, that’s usually a clue that I’m looking at a truly poetic image.

Robert Frank, Butte, Montana, 1956

Robert Frank, Butte, Montana, 1956.

The second year of my South Dakota project, however, one of my brothers died unexpectedly of heart failure, and everything changed. All of a sudden, my need to drive through the badlands and prairies of my home state and photograph became heightened, fueled by an overwhelming restlessness, which was my initial and surprising response to the first death of an immediate family member. I say surprising because I don’t normally like to drive. And I was always getting lost — in badlands and prairies, in hard rains and heat waves. Lost and loss. For months.

As I worked deeper into the project, I didn’t feel quite so alone when I ran across other grieving South Dakotans who’d experienced the same restless need to drive — and who’d also gotten lost repeatedly, even in familiar terrain. “Maybe the grieving should be prohibited from driving and wear a large red A on their chests — like Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter,” said a woman rancher with a wry smile. “Or perhaps a red, Triple A!” added a South Dakota widow with a laugh.

By the end of that second year, my original vision of My Dakota had expanded well beyond the original borders of those intimate Western landscapes to encompass also my car, the road, and my entire circuitous road trip while grieving for my brother. It was just dawning on me then that if I were working on some sort of variation of the road-trip book, it wasn’t just the poetic Frank’s “Butte, Montana, 1956,” that was, figuratively speaking, coming along with me for the ride. I was also bringing along some of my favorite road-trip poems, whose tension, vitality — and sometimes even epiphany — often arise from the dynamic between driving down the open road and the stopped vehicle: “Two forces — one forward moving, unthinking, one stilled and reflective — connect and disconnect us; the uneasy match seems profoundly American,” notes the poet Marianne Boruch. Some of my favorite road-trip poems include M. Wyrebek’s “Night Owl,” William Stafford’s “Traveling Through the Dark,” and Emily Dickinson’s famous carriage ride that begins,

Because I could not stop for Death ––
He kindly stopped for me ––
The Carriage held but just Ourselves ––
And Immortality.

David Chickey: For me, one of the biggest design challenges with this book was picking a cover image, especially since there are so many great images in this body of work. Can you write a bit about how we settled on the one we did — and how it helps to set the mood of the book as it relates to a road-trip theme?

Rebecca Norris Webb: Early last year, Alex and I had halfheartedly chosen “Blackbirds” as the cover of our rough, homemade book dummy, but we weren’t convinced it had the right feel for the cover. Besides, we’d been humbled more than once by your amazing cover designs, David — such as your startling double fold-out front-and-back covers for our joint book on Cuba, Violet Isle. Alex and I have learned over the years to trust your design sense, which often illuminates our work in ways that neither Alex nor I — as photographers — could possibly do.

So last fall, we were both surprised and pleased when you showed us your cover design at the Radius offices in Santa Fe. You said that since the book was in essence the road trip of my grief through the South Dakota landscape, it made sense to start the journey with an image of my car in the Badlands. Additionally, underneath this dust jacket, “State Map” was printed on the book itself, because — as you also explained to us — I’d need a road map for my journey, too. Taken together, these two images felt like the right beginning for My Dakota — like an open car door inviting viewers/readers along for the ride.

Rebecca Norris Webb My Dakota Cover Spread

"State Map," PLC (printed laminated cover) beneath the My Dakota dust jacket

Darius Himes: My Dakota is dedicated to your brother, who passed away. How does he figure into this project?

Rebecca Norris Webb: I guess I’d say that My Dakota is filled with his absence.

And looking back now, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps this road trip of my grief for him — which seems out-of-character for me, someone who’s never liked to drive — was in part inspired by his — and his identical twin brother’s — love of cars and road trips.

David Chickey: I think it's likely clear to anyone who reads the text here that you have a background as a poet. But I think it's rare to find an artist who so eloquently blends text and images. Can you perhaps explain the process a bit? How does one inform the other — or does it?

Rebecca Norris Webb: When I see an image that intrigues me for some reason, my first response is to photograph it. Since I still use film, it’s often weeks later when I first look at the contact sheet. Maybe it’s the poet in me, but more and more I’m beginning to realize that this waiting period is more important than I ever realized. It’s hard to explain, but something happens to this image in my mind’s eye while I’m waiting for its unidentical twin — the image on the piece of film I photographed — to be developed. The image floats for a few weeks in the back of my mind, and all the while it’s being bathed in all kind of associations — conscious and unconscious. So I guess you could say that two very different kinds of development are going on during this rich, fertile waiting period, and both play a role in my final intuitive editing process.

I call my intuitive editing process “re-vision” because it’s similar to the way I revise poetry. This “re-vision” process — both for editing text and images — is based on a kind a faith that my images are wiser than I am. It can take me weeks, months, and sometimes even years to uncover and to decipher what an image is trying to say to me. One of the first clues that I’ve stumbled upon the book’s main metaphor is when I find myself writing about the same image I’ve already photographed. My writing tends to lag behind my photography. Over the years, I’ve had to learn to be patient with the more erratic rhythm of my writing, which reminds me of a meandering, willful Labrador retriever that can’t help but vanish from my side from time to time, in order to follow a particularly delectable scent into the deep, lush woods.

Another clue to my uncovering a book’s central metaphor is purely intuitive, and hence more difficult to describe. It involves sensing which image resonates with enough of the emotional and metaphysical weight of a project — and, simultaneously, which image is also buoyed by enough luminosity and vibrancy — to lift the image up into the realm of metaphor. And how does an image lift up into metaphor, the poetic term which literally means “carrying over”? “One should be light like a bird, and not like a feather,” according to the French poet Paul Valery.

Rebecca Norris Webb My Dakota Title Spread

Darius Himes: Is there a narrative element to this book? Do we go from Point A to Point B? Or is there a different type of road implied?

Rebecca Norris Webb: During the darkest time of my grief for my older brother, Dave, I didn’t turn to photography books for solace, but to poetry. It was my first loss of an immediate family member, which some equate to first love, because you are never quite the same afterwards. Some of the only poems that spoke to me during those difficult first months were villanelles (non-linear poems that resist narrative development): Theodore Roethke’s “The Waking” and Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art.” Each refrain is repeated four times — like Bishop’s ironic refrain, “The art of losing isn’t hard to master” — and each time, the refrain’s meaning shifts, stumbles, circles back, deepens.

If those villanelles hadn’t spoken to me when I was most grief struck, perhaps I wouldn’t have followed the strong pull of My Dakota’s repeated images — apples, deer, waves, brown coat, prairie — both in my photographs and in my spare text pieces, and found the book’s elegiac structure. If those villanelles hadn’t spoken to me when I was most grief struck, perhaps I wouldn’t have trusted My Dakota’s meandering, repetitious structure, which echoes the circuitous journey of my own grieving mind and heart trying — over and over and over and over again — to inhabit the contradiction, as the poet Rilke would say, of my brother’s death and my family’s very much alive love for him.

David Chickey: There is an intimacy to this book that, for me, is heightened by the use of your handwritten text. This is something we talked about quite a bit in the design process, and you were a bit resistant to it in the beginning. Are you getting more comfortable with seeing your own handwriting now? And how have people responded to it in the printed book?

Rebecca Norris Webb: Yes, initially I was very resistant, because I’ve always been self-conscious about my rather loopy handwriting. I slowly came around, however, after I found — quite by accident — an example of Emily Dickinson’s handwriting in a book of essays that I had bought. I just assumed her handwriting would be as compact and as exact as her poetry. Instead, I was startled to find Dickinson also had a rather loopy handwriting! One spare poem was often scrawled over two or three pages. Her handwriting wasn’t at all what I expected. It told me something about her that wasn’t evident in her poetry on the printed page. I continue to be surprised by the enthusiastic response to my handwriting in the book. My favorite comment came from Magdalena Herrera, a friend who’s the Director of Photography at Geo in Paris. My handwriting’s long, sweeping strokes reminded Magdalena of “those tall grasses on the prairie.”

Rebecca Norris Webb My Dakota Handwriting Layout

David Chickey: You and Alex (Becky's husband Alex Webb) work so collaboratively — yet in such a unique way. I think readers would be interested in your process, and the role that Alex plays.

Rebecca Norris Webb: If, for instance, I’m the author of the book — like with My Dakota — I do the first sequence for the book dummy, and then Alex takes a look and tells me what he thinks. We learned over the years that it’s necessary to be tough on each other’s work. Our friend, the artist Joyce Kozloff — who is married to another friend, the art critic and photographer, Max Kozloff — says the most difficult journey her work makes is the trip from her studio out her front door, because Max always weighs in first before her work is released into the world.

Fortunately, one of our house rules is that the author always has the last word. Perhaps that’s why our marriage has survived as long as it has, and why our collaborative projects — such as this new one we’re slowly wading into in the U.S. — are much trickier to navigate…

The Indie Photo Book in the 21st Century

Two years ago Larissa Leclair founded the Indie Photobook Library in her Washington D.C  home with the goal of preserving rare self-published books and making them available to a larger audience. She hopes the collection will one day land at the Library or Congress for safe keeping. From Nov. 10 – 18, Leclair’s collection is on view at FotoWeek DC.

LightBox: How did the Photobook Library start?

Larissa Leclair: The Indie Photobook Library started in May 2010 with an idea, one book and a Facebook page.

The idea of creating a public non-circulating library had been in my head for many years; one I originally wanted to propose to a non-profit. At that time, my focus was a broad range of international titles and making them available to a U.S. audience. That initiative never materialized, but the idea stayed and evolved. In 2009, as Blurb announced their Photobook Now Competition winners, and I was viewing a lot of self-published books online, I was personally frustrated with not having a central place to visit in order to look at these kinds of books in person. I referenced the idea of a museum/archive/library in my contribution to the Future of the Photobook discussion, but the final spark for the project came one day in April 2010 while attending the Photo Memory Workshop Master Class at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.

George Miles, Curator of the Western Americana Collection at Beinecke, and Laura Wexler, Professor and Founder of the PMW, had selected to focus on the Peter Palmquist Collection. The vision encapsulated in his collection was the final piece of encouragement I needed. I was awestruck that a single individual could follow his passion, create a collection and, in the process, have an impact on the history of photography. Two weeks after that Master Class, I embraced the idea that I could be the one to create a space for self-published and “indie” photobooks while creating an archive at the same time.

The long-term goal of a lasting archive is what excites me the most. Having a specific collection dedicated to these kinds of books allows for the development of future discourse on trends in self-publishing, the ability to reflect on and compare books in the collection and for the scholarly research to be conducted in years, decades and centuries to come.

LB: What’s your background and why are you so interested in photobooks?

Leclair: I have a BFA in Photography and a BA in Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis. My interest in archives began in graduate school, where I spent most of my time researching and working in Manuscripts & Archives at Yale University Library with photographs, postcards, ephemera and books.

And I just love books. From remembering my childhood library to loving library spaces now, I enjoy being surrounded and being introduced to things through books. I prefer to look at most photography in book form and to be able to revisit the work over and over again that way.

LB: Can you describe the library’s physical space?

Leclair: The library is stored in my small home office, until I am able to find a donated public space. The books are shelved and stored in crates. I regularly pull from them each time there is an iPL event, exhibition, lecture, visitor or article I am writing. I have piles of photobooks on my desk of new submissions for the collection and boxes of packaging and ephemera in the corner that I have saved.

LB: Is there an online or social component to what you do?

Leclair: The iPL grew from the ability to share an idea online without having a physical space for the library. The online presence and social networking aspect is a big part of the success of the Indie Photobook Library. It affords easy collaboration and engagement with those that love photobooks and those that support the Indie Photobook Library.

LB: Can you tell us about the concept for the most recent show?

Leclair: For Documentary Styles in early 21st century Photobooks, at Gallery Carte Blanche in San Francisco, I invited Darius Himes, Assistant Director of Fraenkel Gallery, to work with me on the exhibition. I am interested in creating exhibitions and discourse around the photobook much the same way a museum would a photography exhibition. After some back-and-forth of ideas we agreed to curate the exhibition around the framework of documentary practice and styles in photography. And the medium would be the book.

LB: What was the process for finding and selecting books for this exhibition?

Leclair: When I am working on something I reference the library and choose from the collection. At least once a year, the iPL organizes a large feature-length exhibition of photobooks culled from the permanent collection. For the exhibition at Gallery Carte Blanche, Gwen Lafage, the Founding Director, wanted to have a call for entry, so we set a deadline that books needed to be part of the iPL by June to be considered for this exhibition.

There are books that speak to a more traditional documentary style, while others completely challenge it; there are diary-esque books and ones that are typology in structure; others that use found and vernacular imagery; and many that are documentary-esque in a fine art tradition. The lines between journalism, art and the long-term documentary project have blurred, morphed and continue to feed off of each other. The exhibition explores, rather than defines, the style.

LB: What makes a photobook interesting to you?

Leclair: For me, some of the most potent and challenging photographic work being done today is being realized in self-published photobooks. Freed from constraints, the photographic work should influence the book form. And it is when content, form, and experience come together in the right way, the book is magical.

LB: Could self-publishers replace the big publishing houses? Should they?

Leclair: Do I think they will replace the big publishing houses? Probably not. But self-publishers, independent/collaborative publishers and print-on-demand services are challenging the traditional publishing paradigm. A photobook is a photobook, no matter how it was published. A self-published book should not be judged differently. Doing-it-yourself is just as valid as publishing with a big press. All are part of the current photobook discussion and I have been championing that for many years.

LB: What’s your dream scenario for the library? What do you hope to do with it in the future?

Leclair: I have very ambitions dreams and goals for the Indie Photobook Library. I hope it will be seen as the “Library of Congress” for self-published photobooks and that photographers will continue to add to the collection as they create new books over their career. Traveling around with the library these last few years has been a successful way of sharing the photobooks in the collection and I’ve reached thousands and thousands of people that way. Yet, I’ve always envisioned a fixed public space that operates like a non-circulating library or browse-able archive where books in the collection are listed on worldcat.org and easily found by researchers.

I’ve just searched for many self-published photobooks on WorldCat and the Indie Photobook Library is often the only public collection in the United States that has a copy. If only people knew this on worldcat.org and I had the physical space people could access. That is the mission—providing the space and access for people to see these amazing photobooks.


Larissa Leclair is the founder of the Indie Photobook Library in Washington D.C. 



The Sweet Life: Revisited

In photography, “the road trip,” especially by car around the United States, has been a right of passage for many photographers. Embarking on a fourteen-month world tour however is a bit less common, but that ambitious challenge was taken on in 1959 by the Dutch photographer Ed van der Elsken and his wife Gerda. The resulting photographs would turned into one of the most epic Dutch photobooks ever produced, The Sweet Life.

Ed van der Elsken

Ed van der Elsken photographing his exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in 1966.

Van der Elsken secured the much needed financing for the trip through contracts to make a series of films enroute for Dutch television and at the Royal Dutch Shipowners Association (KNRV), where Elsken and his wife would be provided first class passage on merchant vessels. article writing submission . In exchange, van der Elsken was to make a short film about the merchant navy that would be a present to Princess Margriet of the Netherlands. Additional funding came from Gerda van der Elsken who wrote a series of articles about their adventures for Dutch magazines illustrated by her husband’s photographs. On Aug. 22, 1959 they sailed for Africa.

Their travels would cover West Africa, the Malay Peninsula, the Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong, the United States and Mexico. Van der Elsken found his stride photographing in the streets of each major city or backwater; When Im working I get up fairly early, cup of coffee, camera, check if the films alright, any dustthen I set off to see what I can find. Hunting for luck, hoping Ill come across people who excite meI let them know with my eyes and facial expressions what I am doing, that its okay, that I mean no harm and I dont. In all he would shoot more than 5,000 pictures, and by the time of their return to the Netherlands on Sept. 19, 1960, they were both completely exhausted and their money had just run out.

If the scope of the trip wasnt enough of an exhausting (albeit exciting) experience, the ordeal to get Sweet Life published as a book would be frustrating and even more exhausting. Upon his return van der Elsken immediately set to work printing, editing, sequencing and designing a book he thought at first to call Crazy World. After four years of work there were still no book publishers interested that would take the risk on bringing his world project to print yet Elsken continued to rearrange and improve the edit and layout. He employed various improvised means to shape the material including hand drawn storyboards, cut up photo prints, variant printing techniques, extreme croppings, images bled to the paper edge, and double-spread pages that linked separate images into a run-on panoramics. Additionally, van der Elsken wrote 26 pages of extensive captions for each of the images with stories of experiences in a hipster voice that recalls the lyrical styling of Kerouac and Ginsberg.

*SWEET LIFE* – sweet and sour, sweet and bitter. Who am I to spout about life, love, happiness? About whether all’s right with the world, or whether it’s just a vale of tears, so store up your treasures for heaven. I think it’s unbelievable, fabulous, this life of ours – everything, the birds and the bees, the dear and the antelope, the spacious skies, the foggy dew, the rockabye babies. Men like John F. and Robert Kennedy, Pablo Picasso, Georges Brassens, Fidel Castro, Pope John XXIII. My wife’s embrace, a landing on the moon, space, time, eternity. I don’t understand one damn thing about any of it, except that it’s enough to keep me in a constant delirium of delight, surprise, enthusiasm, despair, enough to keep me roaming, stumbling, faltering, cursing, adoring, hating the destruction, the violence in myself and others.

Katholieke Illustratie

Article in Katholieke Illustratie #39 from 1959 announcing the departure of Ed van der Elsken and Gerda on their world tour.

Finally in 1965, Andreas Landshoff a friend of van der Elskens who had ties to the American publisher Harry N. Abrams, persuaded Abrams and several other publishers into co-publish an edition that would appear in seven different countries (with seven different covers!) totaling 17,000 copies in all a huge number of copies for a photography title. Borrowing the name from a tramp steamer they traveled upon in the Philippines, the books title became Sweet Life. During its printing, van der Elsken stood next to the presses in Japan and ordered the black ink to be applied as heavily as possible resulting in the dense and contrasty gravure images far blacker than his original prints achieved.

Today, for historians and those lucky enough to see a copy firsthand, Sweet Life is admired and celebrated for its cinematic energy, raw style, and gritty in-your-face design reminiscent of another masterpiece, William Kleins Life is Good & Good for You in New York. What Kleins New York and Robert Franks The Americans did for the genre of personal documentary of one country, van der Elskens ambitions took on the world.

Jeffrey Ladd is a photographer, writer, editor and founder ofErrata Editions.Errata Editions is featuring Sweet Life in its Books on Books series this month.

On Press Update | Barney Kulok

Last week the presses were rolling for Nan Goldin’s Ballad of Sexual Dependency. This week Aperture’s Production Manager is on press in Verona, Italy with Barney Kulok, whose upcoming monographBuilding:Louis I. Time Warner Cable Deals . Kahn at Roosevelt Island is currently in production. These on-press images just landed in Aperture’s inboxes, sent by Barney himself.

Building:Louis I. Kahn at Roosevelt Island (Photographs by Barney Kulok,Essay by Steven Holl) is coming this Fall!

 

apertureWEEK: Photography Reading Shortlist

© International Center of Photography, 2012. Photograph by John Berens.

›› Throw out your SLR? App-maker Hipstamatic announced its plans to launch the Hipstamatic Foundation for Photojournalism to educate and support ”the next generation of photographic storytellers using smartphones with Hipstamatic.” Photojournalist Brad Mangin posted “How I Made Instagram Images That Were Good Enough for Sports Illustrated,” an essay about how he got a portfolio of iPhone Instagrams published, and how you can too. Traditional photojournalists everywhere are groaning, but check out Benjamin Lowy’s blog featuring his reports from Libya via Instagram (supported in part by a Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund grant) and judge for yourself.

›› The Associated Press has announced that it will be using robotic cameras (in addition to its team of photographers) to photograph the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. These cameras, which have been mounted on ceilings and the bottom of pools, will provide an otherwise impossible perspective on the games. On the heels of the highly controversial Olympics Portraits that made the rounds on the web earlier this month, LightBox tells the story of The Best Magazine Assignment Ever, photographer’s Neil Leifer’s 1984 “Olympic Odyssey Around the World” during which he traveled to 13 different countries to create a collection of images that would appear in TIME’s preview of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

›› The New York Times Lens Blog published a collection of color slides taken by groundbreaking American photographer, musician, writer and film director Gordon Parks in 1956, images from his “Segregation Series” that had been thought lost until they were found at the bottom of a box this spring. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture opened Gordon Parks: 100 Moments, a retrospective focusing on the photographer’s work in Harlem and Washington D.C. in the 1940s. The International Center of Photography opened an exhibition of Parks’ photographs in May, and they’ll be on view until January 2013. Parks, who died in 2006, would have been 100 this year.

›› What does the future hold for photography publishing? The British Journal of Photography reported on the growing body of work being printed on newsprint, profiling publications by Jason Larkin, Guy Martin, Alec Soth, and Rob Hornstra, who are enthusiastic about the medium’s affordability and impermanence. Joerg Colberg discussed how serious photography might best use the internet as a means of dissemination.

›› The Guardian’s Geoff Dyer profiles StreetViewer photographer Michael Wolf, as well as Doug Rickard whose forthcoming monograph A New American Picture sparked lively debate on our Facebook page last week, some condemning his practice as lazy appropriation, and others praising its conceptual ingenuity. In discussing Rickard, Dyer links “this new way of working” to the candid photography traditions of Paul Strand, Robert Frank, and Walker Evans: “The shifting spirit of Robert Frank seems also to be lurking, as if the Google vehicle were an updated incarnation of the car in which he made his famous mid-50s road trip to produce his photographic series, The Americans.” In other virtual reality news, StreetView now includes images from the Antarctic huts of explorers Shackleton and Scott, providing yet more digital space for such artists to explore.

The Dutch Photobook with Frits Gierstberg at Aperture

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Good photobooks require having good photographs. But good photobooks need more than that. Photobooks, when done well, are not merely collections of photographs. They are pieces of art in their own right, which means that the contributions of the non-photographers are crucial.

–Joerg Colberg, in his review of The Dutch Photobook (Aperture 2012)

This Wednesday, June 13, 2012, Frits Gierstberg, curator of the Netherlands Photomuseum, comes to Aperture Gallery to speak on the important collaborations between graphic designers, printers, and Dutch photographers that have earned Dutch photobooks so much praise.

Gierstberg, who co-authored Aperture’s latest “book on books,” The Dutch Photobook: A Thematic Selection from 1945 Onwards along with Rik Suermondt, will be explaining some methodology behind his selection in the text, and discussing not only those  books included, but omitted as well.

We’re most excited for the hands-on reception after the presentation during which audience members will be offered a special viewing of a selection of contemporary Dutch photobooks. Joining Gierstberg will be special guest Dutch photographers featured in the book, Jacqueline Hassink, author of the 2009 Aperture monograph Car Girls, and Dana Lixenberg, whose monographs Jeffersonville Indiana and Last Days of Sishmaref won Best Dutch Book Design in 2005 and 2008, respectively.

Attendees will also receive complementary copies of Aperture’s The Photobook Review Issue 002, edited by publisher Markus Schaden, which features extensive coverage of photobook studies and photobook dummy-making.

Read Joerg Colberg’s full review of The Dutch Photobook on Concientious. The work has also been reviewed on Photo-Eye Blog, where you can flip through a few spreads as well.

The Dutch Photobook: Presentation and reception with Frits Gierstberg
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
6:30 p.m.

FREE

Aperture Gallery
547 West 27th Street, 4th floor
New York, New York
(212) 505-5555

apertureWEEK: Online Photography Reading Shortlist

Aperture aggregates the best posts from this past week in the photography blogosphere.

  • “Imagine a place where a thousand of your best photo friends and heroes have taken over an artsy southern town,” says Andrew Owen, managing director of this weekend’s Look3 Festival in Charlottesville, VA, “and over three days you take in a dozen gallery exhibits, eat at outdoor cafes between talks by legendary photographers, see new work from photographers working all over the world, and return home exhausted and inspired.” That’s where we’ll be for the next few days, in part presenting a special exhibition, the Aperture at Sixty Library, which will showcase highlights from Aperture’s many years of publishing. La Lettre de La Photographie profiles exhibitions at the festival by Hank Willis Thomas, Alex Webb, Bruce Gilden, Stanley Greene, and many more. NYTimes‘ LENS blog takes a closer look at Thomas’ work, LA Times‘ Framework interviews Mitch Dobrowner, whose work is also featured at Look3, and Time‘s LightBox speaks with guest curators Vincent Musi and David Griffin.
  • More in festival coverage, Flak Photo offers four free days of live streaming lectures and panel discussions from the Flash Forward Festival, emerging photographers from Canada, the US and the UK, in Boston, MA at Fairmont Battery Wharf, June 7 – 10, 2012, presented in part by the Magenta Foundation. Download the festival catalogue here, and check out the full calendar of events.
  • Meanwhile in Europe, PhotoEspana has gotten underway. Of particular interest: Image Anxiety, curated by Chinese independent curator Huang Du, and of course, the annual Photobooks of the Year exhibition. In other international festival and fair news, the word is out that Paris Photo will launch a Los Angeles edition in April, 2013 at the Paramount Studios, as reported by the LA Times and the British Journal of Photography.
  • NPR’s Claire O’Neill heads on a trip to the New York Times’ “Lively Morgue,” their basement newspaper archive which contains five-to-six million photographic prints and contact sheets, overseen by Jeff Roth, mined and disseminated on the Times’ brilliant Tumblr site by photo editor Darcy Eveleigh and others.
  • “Sometimes it takes me two hours to get down a street, because there are so many things to photograph and people to meet,” writes Magnum photographer Jacob Aue Sobol in his latest entry from Beijing for Leica Camera Blog’s fascinating Arrivals and Departures series, unfolding live. Follow Sobol’s journey along the Trans Siberian Railway, “from the Russian forests to the Mongolian desert and finally through the mountains to Beijing,” shooting black-and-white every step–quite literally–along the way with the Leica’s new digital monochrome-only camera. Episode five, offers up a stunning gallery of images–dynamic, saturated street photos that remind us of work by Eikoh Hosoe from Barakei.
  • Another historical archive of photographs has emerged in New York at the New York Public Library. A “visual encyclopedia” of 41,000 prints by Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and others have recently been found, many digitized and now made available to the public on a special NYPL site. Originally compiled and organized  in the 30s and 40s by Roy Stryker, founder of the Farm Securities Administration’s photography project, many of the prints were in a public lending library until the 50s. ”Incredibly,” writes James Estrin for NY Times’ LENS blog, “anyone with a library card could check out an original print of a Dorothea Lange image and put it on their wall for a while. It’s easy to imagine that some were never returned.”
  • Find images of the once-in-a-lifetime Venus in Transit event which happens every 105 years or so, from LA TimesFramework, Boston‘s Big Picture, WSJ‘s Photo Journal, Conscientious, and The Atlantic‘s In Focus. Marvin Heiferman, author of the new book Photography Changes Everything (Aperture 2012), shared this great link on his twitter feed, “a history of photographers who’ve already tracked the Transit of Venus.”