PHOTOBOOKS OF NOTE 2020 - Brad Feuerhelm

I love listmania. I have gone from a shrewd skepticism about these lists to over-extending and over-endorsing their usage. I believe that books should be celebrated and I would feel better if more people and more books were in involved. I am currently involved with four lists this year. I have one for Nearest Truth, one for American Suburb X, This one for Deadbeat Club and one for photobookstoreUK. As the other lists are already formed, Clint, the dude that he is, has allowed me to follow through on a list of titles that I did not see this year that I feel I should have. I can’t get to everything and 2020 was a weird year, so these titles reflect books that I have not seen, but look rad and that have been championed by my colleagues on their lists. Shout out to Clint for being cool with this. So buckle in or up…These are not presented in any sort of hierarchy of importance…


Valeria Cherchi - Some of You Killed Luisa. Eriskay Connection.
I saw this work in an installation in Poland in 2018. I think it was Photomonth Krakow, but I might be mistaken. I remember be quite taken with the work which involved the rather dark topic of the kidnapping of women in Sardinia. The work in book form seems to have added more elements of text and has incorporated more research elements to it. I have not seen the result, but I suspect it’s pretty great.


Laura Rodari - Malia. Self-Published.
I am sort of half-expecting to see this, but I don’t want to assume it will be sent for review. Laura’s work is really great. Her last book was a complete gem and this title sees Laura expanding her vision towards the tectonic and tumultuous parcel of land formed around a volcano. It looks tremulous and foreboding and extends her vision past portraits to the landscape.


Tyler Mitchell - I Can Make You Feel Good. Prestel.
I think this year has facilitated an awakening that has been necessary for many people. I believe that we have to some degree put our guard down in the fight to equalize our social and civic contracts and that with the death of George Floyd, the consideration of race and equality has a new priority that needs our attention and dedication. From what I can see, Mitchell’s book creates a dialogue with how we examine progress, utopias and the idea of a futurism that tackles many of these issues.


Carolyn Drake - Knit Club. TBW Books.
This seems to be a high priority for many people and I have enjoyed watching Drake garden with good humor from Afar. I trust TBW BOOKS in their efforts and am overly positive that this title is an absolute stunner. The Press write-up reads at once playful and curious following the omniscient narration used in Faulkner As I lay Dying to inspire a secret group of women known as the Knit Club and the dialogue they persevere through Drake’s images.


Ming Smith - An Aperture Monograph. Aperture.
Smith, A former model turns her investigation of African American Life outward from behind the lens exploring black life and the revolutionary moment. The work, from afar seems to be a brilliant survey of an important voice just now getting her due. I will note that I think Aperture has done particularly good work in re-calibrating their output to fit the needs of re-examination within photography and have put their money where their mouth is in terms of publishing. 


Mary Ellen Mark - The Book of Everything. Steidl.
I was lucky enough to meet Mary Ellen Mark some years before her death. I remember being blown away by her tough and formidable persona which was coupled with her great sense of humor. It was somehow very New York, though she was born in Pennsylvania. This looks like a pretty great survey of her work and probably a perfect time to reexamine her legacy and its importance on the medium, but also on the moment. 


Momo Okabe - ILMATAR. Mandrake.
Truth be told, I have this book on reserve. The cover has made it impossible to resist, but the price tag means it might take a minute to find those extra funds hanging around. I will get it eventually, but the book looks incredibly lavish and really spectacular. It is a book about pregnancy and birth, but if you are familiar with Okabe, then you understand the implications in a wider manner.


Hans-Peter Feldmann - Frauen. Mörel Books. Aron had a good year publishing two particular titles. The first is Eli Durst’s The Community, which is incredibly undervalued in the list representation for the year thus far. That book is gold. The other book which I do not have, but would not mind getting a copy of down the road, but which sold out almost instantly is Frauen by Feldmann. If you are familiar with the artist, the typology and concept will already give you an idea of what is inside. 


Sunil Gupta - Lovers Ten Years On. Stanley Barker. Another brilliant Stanley/Barker title from Gupta whom I was lucky enough to interview this year for Nearest Truth. The book is a compelling and kind examination of lovers over the span of a decade. Like Christopher Street, his last book with Team S/B, the book sold out quickly and is already a classic. I did see a pdf of the book, so I am cheating a bit here, but I did not get a copy, but knowing S/B, I am sure it is as fine as their other titles.


Jan Groover - Photographer. Scheidegger & Spiess. I did not even know this book was a thing until the lists started. I remember looking at Groover’s images a few decades back in art school and remember trying to figure it all out at the time. I have grown fond of the work ever since, but have not picked up a book on her work since, which this title reminds me to do. I love Groover’s simple, yet elegant investigations into the domestic potential of utensils. It is consistent and I love the notion that one idea can foster a career even in its reductive form. 

 

Brad Feuerhelm is a photographer and writer living in Slovakia. He is the man in charge of Nearest Truth, one of the most prolific photography interview podcasts out there right now. He is also managing editor of ASX. He loves metal, and hates pictures of himself.