Aperture’s creative director and publisher recommends five of her favourite photobooks: dummies, projects she worked on and books she simply loves. Martin will select the best dummy for the 2018 edition of our Photobook prize.
And there is more to come for the photobook lovers: this year, Cortona On The Move will host the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards exhibition, showing the 35 photobooks which were shortlisted for the prize.
Kazuma Obara: Silent Histories
self-published, 2014; Editorial RM, 2015
As a dummy / self-published and produced book, it’s quite an elaborate undertaking. In telling the story of six individuals who survived the bombings in Japan during WWII, Obara has woven together documents, family and official photographs, with ephemera of the time and his own photographs. Remarkably, the “trade” edition that followed was able to reproduce an almost-exact rendering of the original handmade edition. Both editions reward close and careful looking to piece together the stories.
Rinko Kawauchi: Halo
Rinko Kawauchi: Ametsuchi
Rinko Kawauchi: Illuminance
I’m mentioning these three together as it’s been such a pleasure working with Japanese artist Rinko Kawauchi, it’s hard to choose just one. Each project has had something quite unique, if subtle, in the production of the project that has helped to underscore the subtlety of Kawauchi’s work. In Illuminance, designed by Daniel Baer, the small gesture of the uncut, Japanese binding was an attempt to underscore the interconnectivity of the single images and the importance of the sequence as a means of understanding the work. In Ametsuchi, designed by Hans Gremmen, the uncut binding has transformed into something we jokingly called “kimono-sleeve binding” in which the top and fore-edge of the page are uncut, but the viewer can peek inside the pages and view the images printed in the inverse, on the inside of the page, giving life to a sense that beneath the surface of the images, a whole other layer of meaning might be accessible. In Halo, also designed by Gremmen, the choice of paper and inking to maximize the feeling of density and to accentuate the carefully controlled color palette and sudden gleams of light that emanate from the images. Each one is shaped, in collaboration with the designer, to be a beautiful, supportive platform for the Kawauchi’s amazing work.
Stephen Shore: Selected Works, 1973-1981
This book was published last year, in advance of Stephen’s survey exhibition up at MoMA now. For many years, Stephen has been excavating his archive of works to rescan and to rediscover images that were previously unpublished, but were shot as part of the journeys that where the source of all the images published in Uncommon Place. And at least once, we have added new images to that iconic publication, first published in 2004 and then reissued in 2015. Even though the book is subtitled: Uncommon Places: The Complete Works, finally I realized there was so much amazing material still to be discovered from those road trips and we couldn’t keep adding new images to The Complete Works. The question was – how to dip back into this time period and to frame it in a way that allowed the viewer to see it afresh – not just as “More Uncommon Places work”. The solution was to ask 15 artists, authors, curators to each make a selection of 10 images, and for each to narrate a path through the work. We started with 750+ images; Stephen and I pared those down to 400, and then offered each contributor their choice. It’s a wonderful way of seeing the work with fresh eyes, while also prompting (I hope) some thoughts on how one might edit the work themselves if given the opportunity. What would you select?
Lesley A. Martin is publisher of the Aperture book program and of The PhotoBook Review, a newsprint journal dedicated to the evolving conversation surrounding the photobook.