It is important to highlight the incredibly vibrant world of self-publishing in 2010. What I love about much of this work is that it is less about the aspiration for profundity than it is about raw energy. To use the music analogy, these books are more like live shows than albums. As such, much of this work rejects the world of traditional commerce, book awards and top-10 lists. So rather than pick a single title as my favorite, I encourage people to visit some of the resources out there for finding those thrilling little gems that speak to their own experience:
When this book arrived, I saw the cover and was afraid to look inside. I flipped through the first few pages and then put it down. I didn't look at it again for days. It was everything I'd been waiting for and almost too much to handle. Now, after living with it for weeks, I can finally set aside my insane jealousy and proclaim this not only my top book of the year, but one of my all-time favorites.
It is rare that an exhibition catalog becomes a work of art in and of itself (see You and Me and the Art of Give and Take by Allen Ruppersberg on my 2009 list). Based on René Magritte's short-lived magazine of the same name, La Carte d’apres Nature is a dreamy, free-associative ramble through Monaco, Surrealism, Botanical Gardens, Luigi Ghirri's eye and Thomas Demand's brain. With a catalog this good, who needs the exhibition?
If I were to make a list of my top 10 magazines of the year, #1 would be Fantom, the excellent new Italian photo magazine (or at least it would be tied for #1 with Foam, but I digress). Fantom is also in the book business. Their second offering (after an excellent Takashi Homma book) is a modest little softcover about a modest little river near Guidi's hometown. Like John Gossage, Guidi is a photographer's photographer who looks at the world with tremendous subtlety. Now if only someone would make a Guidi book with wide US distribution.
A mixture of photos, pamplets, poscards and posters, Playing Borders is always on the verge of falling apart – as is its subject: an almost empty, generic office space in which office workers create performances and temporary sculptures. Unfortunately I recently learned that Playing Borders came out in 2009 (it took awhile for it to find its way to Minnesota). But if you want a good photobook by a young Dutch artist dealing with generic office spaces from 2010, I can also recommend How Terry Likes his Coffee. Self-published by Florian van Roekel after his graduation from the Royal Academy, I expect to see big things from this artist in the years to come.
Just when I'm in the deepest depths of large-format, color-photo fatigue, along comes Mark Power to save the day. Power's pictures are so good that I can almost imagine hauling the 8×10 out of storage.
During 2010 most of my book collecting budget went toward photographically illustrated children's books. Since most of these books are over fifty years old, they tend to be pricey. So I was enormously happy to find this inexpensive facsimile of Höch's inventive children's book.
Alec Soth Alec Soth is a photographer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is represented by Sean Kelly in New York, Weinstein Gallery in Minneapolis, and is a member of Magnum Photos. In 2008, Soth started his own publishing company, Little Brown Mushroom.