The lost art object | 5 photobooks to discover this week
This week, the Parisian art world turns its eyes to photography. As the leading international galleries showcase works by superstar photographers under the glass ceiling of the Grand Palais for Paris Photo, there is no shortage of photography-related events in the French capital.
Lesser known, and largely relegated to the margins of art fairs, the photo book is currently enjoying a renaissance, attracting an audience of collectors of its own. Celebrated at Paris Photo with the Photo Book award established in collaboration with the Aperture Foundation, this medium — and its tight ties with photography — has two specialist fairs this year: Offprint at the Beaux-Arts de Paris and Polycopies at the Concorde Atlantique. Both are both running from November 10 through 13, in parallel to Paris Photo, showcasing works by international independent publishers and artists.
The event at the Bateau Atlantique labels the book community as “an extensive one, with many nooks and crannies to explore,” we quickly see that the photo book is as diverse as any other artistic practice.
“A photo book can be a work in its own right,” says curator and writer David Campany, also member of the 2016 Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards jury, “every aspect of the object is considered: image choice, sequence, layout, writing, choice of paper, choice of printing technique and so on. It's hard to get all of these things working together, but that's what most bookmakers are trying to do.”
In spite of what you might assume, both Turkish photographer Yusuf Sevincli and Campany agree that the rise of social media and digital communication, whose functioning lies largely in the sharing of images, has been instrumental in the the increased production and distribution of photo books.
“The advent of the internet has significantly raised the standard of printed books,” says Campany. “Print needs to justify itself, make itself desirable as never before. The internet has led to better books.”
Here is our pick of the top five photo books to take a look at this week:
1 | You and Me, Katja Stuke & Oliver Sieber
The collaborative effort of artists Katja Stuke & Oliver Sieber, You and Me (A project between Bosnia, Germany and the US) — also winner of the 2016 Dummy Book Award at the festival Les Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles — renders the eponymous exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Photography of Chicago on paper. The book, narrating the story of a Bosnian-born refugee and her voyage across Europe and the US, goes well beyond the third-person account of a journey to explore its deeper socio-political stakes and the precarious relationships between three countries.
2 | Good Dog, Yusuf Sevinçli
This stunning photo book attests Sevinçli’s approach towards his artistic practice. Down-to-earth, responsive to their surroundings, probing the interrelationships between objects, individuals, buildings and landscapes, these photographs, rendered in black and white, constitute a beautiful body of work for this third edition of Polycopies.
3 | Paperwork and the Will of the Capital, Taryn Simon
Taryn Simon is an artist who is profoundly engaged in the creation and conceptions of her books. More so than any of her previous works, Paperwork and the Will of the Capital does not serve merely to illustrate her travelling exhibition of the same title, but constitutes an entirely different way of experiencing the series of photographs — also on display at Palais at the Gagosian Gallery booth. In Paperwork and the Will of the Capital, the decorative element par excellence — the flower — takes on an entirely different significance when reconsidered within the context of its use: the signature of accords, treaties, and decrees drafted to influence systems of governance and economics, from nuclear armament to oil deals and diamond trading. The irony and scope of Simon’s reflection might be truly appreciated only through this photo book published by Gagosian Gallery and Hatje Cantz Verlag GmbH & Co.
4 | Hab Acht by Andreas Frei
When six coordinated terrorist attacks struck the city of Paris on November 13, 2015, Andreas Frei was on Le Concorde Atlantique for the second edition of Polycopies. That night, the sound of the sirens, which could be heard virtually everywhere in the French capital, is what stuck with him. In Hab Acht Frei explores the fear of dark, gently evoking one of Europe’s worst terrorist attacks. Frei will present Hab Acht at Polycopies this Saturday, November 12, at 15:00.
5 | The Prospect of Immortality, Murray Ballard
One of the shortlisted books of the First PhotoBook category of the 2016 Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards, The Prospect of Immortality deals with the “problem of death” and its implications in a post-industrial, highly-digitalised and self-delusional society that struggles to renounce to the desire of being immortalized and the ambition of living forever.
Paris Photo, Grand Palais, November 10-13, 2016
Polycopies, Bateau Concorde Atlantique, November 9-13, 2016