PHOTOBOOKS OF NOTE 2019 - LINDLEY WARREN MICKUNAS
"Showcaller is the first book exploring the work of emerging artist Talia Chetrit. It brings together a broad range of her work made between 1994 and 2018 and is linked to a retrospective museum exhibition at the Kölnischer Kunstverein in early 2018. The title Showcaller is a theatrical term which references the performative aspects of Chetrit’s work, the power dynamic between subject and photographer, and, ultimately, between the photographer and her audience.
The earliest works included were made when Chetrit was a teenager and she adroitly collapses and shuffles images from across 24 years and neutralizes the space between family portraits, teenage friends, intimate sex pictures, self-portraits, staged murder pictures, still-lives, and street photographs, to name just a few of the subjects and genres her work adopts. Regardless of the subject matter or the technique with which the image is made, her focus lies on researching and unveiling the basic social, conceptual, and technical conditions of the genre of photography. Her work is imbued with a desire to control the physical and historical limitations of the camera, to trace its manipulative potential, and to question the relationship between photographer and subject"
“member: Pope.L, 1978-2001” (perhaps not technically a “photobook” but it does contain photographs and I do love it) Edited with text by Stuart Comer. Text by Naomi Beckwith, Mark H.C. Bessire, C. Carr, Valerie Cassel Oliver, Adrienne Edwards, Malik Gaines, Danielle A. Jackson, Adrian Heathfield, EJ Hill, Thomas J. Lax, André Lepecki, Yvonne Rainer, Martine Syms, Martha Wilson. MoMA.
"Pope.L is a consummate thinker and provocateur whose practice across multiple mediums—including painting, drawing, installation, sculpture, theater and video—utilizes abjection, humor, endurance, language and absurdity to confront and undermine rigid systems of belief. Published in conjunction with an exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art that will feature a combination of videos, photographs, sculptural elements, ephemera and live actions, member: Pope.L, 1978–2001 presents a detailed study of 13 early works that helped define Pope.L’s career. Essays by curators, artists, filmmakers and art historians, plus an interview and artistic interventions by the artist, establish key details for each work and articulate how the artist continues to think about the legacy of these ephemeral projects unfolding in time.
Among the works included are performances rooted in experimental theater, such as Egg Eating Contest (1990), Aunt Jenny Chronicles (1991) and Eracism (2000), as well as street interventions such as Thunderbird Immolation a.k.a. Meditation Square Piece (1978), ATM Piece (1997) and The Great White Way: 22 miles, 9 years, 1 street (2001–09), among others. Together these works highlight the role of that performance has played within a seditious, emphatically interdisciplinary career that has established Pope.L as an influential force in contemporary art."
"Combining fragments of personal history, of memory and imagination, Oobanken builds photographic narratives through constructions and performances. The spaces created are different in character from their wider surroundings, as if confined in an enclave or compound, revealing an attentiveness to what lies beyond the threshold of this self-imposed isolation.
Made while living in Yangon, Myanmar, this series derives from Jerome Ming’s early interest in built structures and interventions. While Oobanken may direct us to inquire about the function of objects and the actions presented, Ming’s photographs also mirror the context in which they are made: that is, during a time of transition, in a place once isolated, a place once suspended in time."
"It is with the story, the one preceding the click of the shutter but also of the brain when an idea pops into it – that Sophie Calle opens Because. She undertakes to tell us the reason, or at least one reason, that led her to press the shutter. The photograph is only revealed later, hidden in the interstices of the Japanese binding. Thus reversing the relationship of natural primacy between an image and the words that accompany it, Sophie Calle calls attention to the influence that the latter may have on our reception of a photograph."
"Combing for Ice and Jade is a love note from Kurt Tong to his nanny, who was one of the last remaining ‘self combed’ women left in China. An early form of Feminism, the comb up ceremony granted women great autonomy at a great cost.
Kurt Tong has worked closely with his nanny over a period of nearly 7 years. Having only 8 photographs of herself, the book is an exploration of her extraordinary life. Her story is slowly revealed through the book, combined with Kurt’s family archive, found photographs from her extended families, new photographs, Chinese ink works and women’s magazines from China that spanned 6 decades."
"Sleep Creek is a landscape filled with trauma and beauty. It’s a place where animals are only seen when they’re being hunted and humans balance between an unapologetic existence and an abyss of secrecy. These images manipulate a landscape that is simultaneously autobiographical, documentary, and fictional: a weaving of myth and symbol in order to be confronted with the experiential. Following the rituals of those within it, Sleep Creek is an obsession between the subject and the photographer — a compulsion to reveal its shrouded Nature."
"Born in 1964 in Munich, Barbara Probst studied sculpture at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich and photography at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. After starting out as a sculptor, she has been working on photographic series entitled “Exposures” since 2000. Each of these series consists of various representations of the same moment, generated by a multitude of cameras pointed at the same event or subject, from different angles and at different distances. Once the images are linked to each other, an enigmatic drama emerges from these sets, calling to mind different photographic genres (from portrait to still life, landscape or studio photography). Bringing to light the artefacts of the photographic process and focusing on representation strategies, Barbara Probst challenges our ability to decipher reality. The book features both her first emblematic works such as Exposure #1 (2000) and her most recent series created in 2018, Exposures # 138, 139 and 140. In his essay the author Frédéric Paul (curator at Centre Pompidou, Paris) explores the conceptual and theoretical background of Probst’s work by explaining her process of conceptualising and creating the exposures as well as aspects of installation and exhibition and the impact on the viewer."
"Mimi Plumb’s Landfall encapsulates the anxieties of a world spinning out of balance, a mirror-land eerily reminiscent of our own time.
The burnt out remains of a house fire open out onto equally decimated alpine landscapes, group shots of humans in lackadaisical embrace with high tech weapons of war...Plumb’s photographs of manmade scars and refuse mingle in seductive rhythm with portraits of friends and strangers in disquieting poses, reveling in the underlying unease the artist saw in herself, her community, and the world at large."
"Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking explores the impact of the ongoing war in Ukraine by focusing on aspects of daily life, rather than the war itself. It is a collaborative project in which Denil has worked with Ukranian people to translate their individual experiences and thoughts. It is as if time is frozen, though the dreams and the hopes remain."
Lindley Warren Mickunas is a photographer in Chicago, IL currently working on her MFA at Columbia College Chicago. She is also Curatorial Assistant at The Museum of Contemporary Photography. We love her work and her writing.