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Contranatura.
Photographs and text by Joan Fontcuberta.
Actar, Barcelona, 2003. Unpaged, numerous color and black-and-white illustrations, 8½x11".

Fontcuberta is one of photography's most enigmatic and decidedly playful artists. Ever the consummate trickster, he serves up prank after considered prank in a worthwhile attempt to get his audience to ask questions, to think before making the leap of belief. His landmark project was Fauna, described by David Levi Strauss in The Book of 101 Books, as an "elaborate historical fiction" born "out of the excess credibility of photographs." It is an incredibly detailed and completely fabricated 'lost archives'. Karelia follows the same artistic path, tracing the history of miraculous monks in a Finnish monastery. Contranatura, cleverly designed to look like a National Geographic issue, is a mini-retrospective on his work. Both books have very limited availability here in the States.

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