Nadav's photographic dossier is a thick and well regarded. His landscapes are iconic and easy to recognize. His interiors are great for a tediousness that reminds one of a movie set and his portraits are widely known. He is nothing if not varied and has a willingness to attempt anything.
Bodies gives us seven people covered in chalk dust. The desired effect is both to accentuate their forms and cover up their tiny hairs and scars reducing the bodies to fragile vessels for the soul. "What all my work has in common," Kander tells us in a supplementary interview, "is the search for paradoxes that show how it feels to be human… I am interested in conveying something exposed and raw."
Bodies succeeds in this, to a degree; some of the photographs remind me of the embryos of birds, others are like corpses found in winter with an almost Goyan pallor. Most, however, have a painterly quality. The body of this work reminds me of photo-realistic painting where the human visage takes on a ghastly quality of a likeness; but, as with likenesses, there is an eerie detachment. The models are left to be sterile things; human forms without souls; cracked vases from which the water has flowed, leaving them static, inhuman, and statue-like.
Do not doubt, though, that these are powerful images. They are shot extremely well and presented in this book in a tasteful and superior fashion. Kander does have an eye for the human form. Props are sparse, but given similar treatment in color and focus as the models themselves, they ultimately detract from the subject matter. The white outlined wall, the mouse, the ragged blanket seem to rob the subject (the human form) of an understanding however obvious the metaphors may be. Kander would have done well to do without these flimsy and fleeting props that rather than accentuate the idea of fragility, kick it into overdrive making the human forms seem satirical.
The variance in the woman to man ratio is also curious. A more equal presentation of the sexes would have helped ease the seeming redundancy of images. Kander attempts to make up for this with women of different ethnicity, age, and size, yet the attempt falls to noticeable difference rather than to startling correlation.
A great feature of this book is the interview with Kander provided near the end. He is a brilliant speaker and thoughtful artists always with something illuminating to say. I wish more photobooks would offer materiel of this kind as it heightens the appreciation of the photographs and the photographer too. So maybe Bodies isn't his best work, but this is his best book. The book itself is perfectly gorgeous and opens on its own to dark blank pages, like the black walls in a good gallery. The color presentation, the supplemental materiel and page quality can hardly be beat. This book is nearly peerless.
—Christopher J. Johnson
Christopher J. Johnson is originally from Madison Wisconsin. He came to Santa Fe in 2002 and graduated from the College of Santa Fe majoring in English with an emphasis in poetry. He is a freelance writer and reporter.