I love these two virus-publications (these two books have no real relation with each other in content!)
Untitled by Anonymous and
Signals Still / Ink (Book) by Penelope Umbrico
Enormous newspaper with 8 (charmingly damaged) mock-shots of criminals probably made in the '80s-'90s and a lot of black paper. Even a whole empty black spread is floating in the middle of the mega-zine. When you browse through the book you've gotten infected with the black ink of the newspaper. You start to look at your fingers and fingerprints are popping up. It feels a little scary. Like if you've become one of them, these anonymous criminals. Who are they? Where are they now? Walking around in NYC? Behind you? Mystery.
Another virus publication is Signals Still / Ink (Book) by Penelope Umbrico. The special edition 64 page zine shows 32 photos of television screens showing nothing, came into existence out of failing attempts in order to get the 'normal' edition printed in 125% black. 32 pages of vague television screens look like if someone tried to make expressive black ink paintings on the screens, but it actually is caused by chance during the printing process. It also leaks a lot of ink on your fingers, which you'll spread around like a virus from the moment you touch the newspaper-zine. And it is not only black ink you'll physically get: You'll get as well a cute surprise: a printed mini photo stolen from Craigslist of one of these big old televisions, from which she cut out the television screens. The present will always remind us about useless disappearing machines and I think is really funny to have. You can put your television photo in your wallet next to the pictures of your children.
Dirk Braeckman creates a very darkish enclosed and isolated, as well as sensitive, mystical world with his photographs. This big book is the prefect size, amount of pages and is simply designed. The typography is excellent (like all the books from ROMA publications). The whole book is nearly printed in black and white. Page after page you feel like you are endlessly browsing through long beautiful grey days. But then there are some yellow colored photographs that feel like if the sun was shining through the pages. Just a tiny little bit. The book is a like a wonderful sexy composition. It is tasteful spicy visual food just as the song "Redlights" from Salem is that for the ears.
There is no one making art, films and books like Harmony Korine. What's the point about all this? There is no point, it's art. Harmony Korine's work is harsh and definitely not for everyone, the best is to use his own words stolen from the internet: "It's an ode to vandalism and the creativity of the destructive force. Sometimes there's a real beauty to blowing things up, to smashing and burning. It could be almost as enlightening as the building of an object."
The book contains photos that were taken while shooting the film of the same name, but also naive colorful paintings, and parts of texts that describe the gang of miscreants as:
Trash Humpers are peeping toms.
They have a sexual compulsion that requires them to hump trash cans and telephone poles and other inanimate objects.
They always drink wine.
They tap dance in parking lots.
They eat the baby.
While browsing through the book you'll get to know the characters. But what I really like about the book is the way it is produced. Some photos in colour, some in black and white. Some on glossy paper, some on mat, some photos on neon green stickersheets and some on the bag of these sheets, some photos on blue paper, which reminds you of the inside of industrial packaging. Some types of surfaces, which could be easily called trash (for example the back of a stickersheet, which rips the photo apart once you take the sticker away...), are used to present the photographs. The photographs are treated in a luxury way as well as if they are shit. This book is radical!
Pauline Oltheten's work I find somewhat awkward and at the same time thoughtful and smart. I think it is fresh, sincere, funny and Dutch.
This book shows typical unique Paulien Oltheten observations made on the streets (mostly in Japan). Her distortions of the public domain. You'll get to see physical and psychological connections made through framing gestures and situations and see people how Paulien wants you to see them. This is reinforced by the associative photo combinations she makes while placing the pictures in this book. She also comments on these human encounters and manifestations with texts such as:
Maybe what one does with socks is culturally defined. Is she caressing the lamppost or not? Make a close up and show the difference. Make up a theory about reality and what we get to see of it.
The textual comments certainly lead you away from looking at the pictures, but Pauline's writing is as interesting as her photographs are. It's a strong book and feels, strangely enough, innocent, which is unbelievable in this time.
196 round framed black and white (detail) photographs out of the "The Belfast Exposed Archive," which show a local perspective of "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland in the eighties. The selected photos out of this photo archive were marked with yellow round stickers by archivists and editors who are unknown. Bloomberg and Chanarin removed these stickers to show the surface underneath, which was hidden for years. That is why the photos are shaped as circles. You can also call it objective framing. In this solid book they describe the 196 photos in simple short sentences and they are lined up in the back of the book. It is just a pity they did not add a little CD with a recording of them reading these sentences, because this conceptual photo-journalism duo has a beautiful voice. I heard them reading these sentences and therefore I know it would have had more impact to listening to read sentences with headphones while flipping through the book. One thing should be mentioned as well: The colour of the cover of this book is outrageous and the wonderful "Baldessari-look-a-like" photos in the back are very esthetic as well. Good to know that these pictures are actually 'traces' made by the public, because this archive was open during some time. The artists describe these photos as "the gestures of those who wished to remain anonymous" which is simply so beautiful that I want to end with this.
Erik Kessels: the Dutch advertising guru and frenetic obsessive found photography collector has made already 9 issues of his book series In Almost Every Picture. In this book series you'll see a collection of found footage photographs with the "same but different" feeling. Nr 9 presents a peculiar story of one family’s attempts to photograph their black dog. "Attempts" because due to their camera conditions and their lack of photography skills in almost every picture the dog is only a vague black blob. Only in the last 2 photos the dog's expression comes a tiny little bit to the surface because those photographs are desperately overexposed. Besides the fact that the photos are super funny because you'll see, for example, people caressing black holes, it also make you think about the charm of analogue photography. In the short text at the end of this book Christian Bunyan describes it in this way: "Before the digital age, before cameras that could solve any problem from red-eye to world hunger, there was the 20th century, a time when photographers actually had to take photos themselves. Among other things, this included finding sufficient light for your subject."
Advertising out of PennySaver is the starting point of this book with a written narrative perfectly woven together with photos and interviews. Miranda July visited a couple of PennySaver sellers, because she became curious who, for example, was the person behind the "Large leather Jacket, $10"? Her typical voyeuristic curiosity is the tool to make her social artwork. In this book you'll get a glimpse of thirteen very intimate realities of random people out of our invisible world. The photos are simple documentations of the sellers, the stuff they sell and details from the environment. Everything together this is a lovely book without bells and whistles, which is honest, ironic and cute. This book makes me happy.
Hanna Liden is Swedish; she lived in London before she moved to NYC. She made this book, which has a wrong colored cover, but once you open the book, it starts with something like a thunderstorm. The book is a thunderstorm. The book echoes a sense of sarcastic Londonish humour, which is commenting on America's extreme optimism in a dark way. Hanna definitely loves the creepy, scary, campy stuff. And transforms trash bin bags, plaster bags and body bags into art we should genuinely appreciate. Her own face covered with plastic bag masks with "Thank you -- have a nice day." Some photos of bag-packs (about to explode?) photographed with a white background. Some other quotes floating on blank pages (often repeated twice for no reason) are woven through the publication:
I can give a headache to an aspirin.
Of all the things I've lost I missed my MIND the most!
There is no future in time travel.
New york fuckin city.
A direct book with an amazing title, which feels like listening to metal and continuously push the pause button to breath.
Taiyo and Nico are camera freaks. Finally they transformed their obscure camera fetish in an amazing large format duo publication. The first part/book is full of photos of crazy cameras they probably all (?) build themselves. There is the television-camera, the suitcase-camera, the tortoise-camera, the rock-camera, the book-camera, the MacBook Pro-camera, some large-format-nerd-camera-houses that you can stand in and 3 camera-man's with a soul, whatever that may mean. Kids growing up with the idea that only an iPhone makes photos would instantly faint when seeing this variety of cameras. The second part/book is full of wonderful, romantic, mysterious thoughtful photos, which is how you know they are from the Swiss artist duo. The photos suggest to me that you will get these photos when you go out with the cameras that you see in the first part/book. You can browse through the 2 publications synchronically and you'll see the connections: for example: animal-animal: The tortoise-camera would photograph a colourful parrot which is smashed against a tree in a European forest. Maybe because it was lost and did not recognize this kind of tree, because they are not the same as the ones that grown in the rainforest where he is used to hanging out? With Taiyo and Nico it is all very logical. To me there is something a little disturbing placed in the first publication. There are 2 spreads/ 4 pages of screenshots of conversations on eBay, where they have put ads to sell the crazy cameras. It is an unusual conceptual interruption, which breaks the flow of looking at the beautiful photographs, but which is idea & content sublime. (Why are those spreads, for example, not placed in the back or outside instead of between the images?) But what you'll find on those 4 pages is rather hilarious though. Potential eBay-buyers comment on the ads with questions like: Is the camera waterproof? And if so to what depth? (I guess this is about the tortoise-camera...) Does a camera have a soul? Every camera has a soul! Taiyo and Nico reply with 'over seriousness' to all the questions till the moment one potential buyer completely freaks out against them, when finding out the cameras are useless. Towards Taiyo: "You fucking wank stain. I piss in your ugly mothers fucking mouth you cunt. Bye bye bye you dumb silly fuck." Towards Nico: "Hey Nico, you fucking cock sucker... your mother is a filthy cock sucking whore and more..." What is happening on the net? What is happening in this book? What are we looking at? Is this real or unreal? I dig the book strongly anyway and that's where it is about.
Anouk Kruithof was born 1981 in Dordrecht, the Netherlands. She studied photography at St. Joost Art Academy in the Netherlands and graduated in 2003. Anouk Kruithof considers photography as a starting point of various possibilities. Kruithof makes photo, video, and spatial installations, as well as social in situation works, ‘take away art’ and, most importantly, she is a frenetic artist-bookmaker.
In 2011 and 2012, she is currently living in New York City, but before she mainly lived in Berlin while attending the artist in residence program Künstlerhaus Bethanien in 2008/2009.
Among others, she has had solo exhibitions at Museum Het Domein, Sittard NL and FOAM Amsterdam. Her work has been included in international group shows at KIT (kunst im tunnel) Düsseldorf, Nederlands Fotomuseum Rotterdam, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, ACP Sydney, DCC Shanghai, MAMAC Liege, Temporäre Künsthalle Berlin, Künstraum Niederösterreich Vienna.
In February 2011 she won ‘the ILLY public prize’ at ART Rotterdam and in May 2011 ‘the Grand Prix Jury and the SVA photoglobal prize’ at Hyeres, festival international de mode et photographie.
In addition, she was a columnist on Photoq.nl in 2008/2009 and in 2011 she wrote about artistbooks for her blogpost “A maze’n books” on wanderingbears.co.uk. For her most recent artistbook she wrote her first fictional short story called “A head with wings.” In 2010 she organized an exhibition about artistbooks including books of 40 artists at ‘Kosmetiksalon Babette’ in Berlin.
Anouk Kruithof has taught and lectured at The Hartford photography MFA program in NYC, Officine Fotografiche in ROMA, ARTEZ art academy Arnhem NL, HKU Art Academy Utrecht NL, St. Joost Art Academy and at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg.