Water is an elusive essential to both man-kind and nature, without it you will certainly wither away and perish, and if by chance there is too much, you may drown. People have tried to control, manage and harness water, to force it to do what they feel is needed. We ultimately understand how little we know and can accomplish when we become aware of the futility of the task at hand when faced with drought or flooding.
Most of the photobooks I review are usually stand alone books, but I feel that Roger Ballen’s recent book Boarding House needs to be placed into a larger perspective. Specifically, the content of his two previous books, Shadow Chamber, published in 2005 and Outland, published in 2001, both by Phaidon Press. Otherwise, it feels like I have walked into the middle of a fascinating and entertaining discussion, but I am left at a loss for what the topic is.
I had the opportunity to acquire an advance copy of Bertrand Fleuret’s soon to be published photographic book, Landmassess and Railways at photo l.a. earlier this month. This was a limited edition (100 each) of a schaden.com imprint of the J&L 2009 Edition, which has a unique hardcover binding.
Time is such an elusive element, and for photographers, it is also an essential component for creating a photograph. As a result, the relevance of time to photography has been written about by John Berger, John Szarkowski, Susan Sontag, Roland Barthes, Andy Grundberg and the list goes on. Understanding time is a technical requirement to ensure the proper exposure of a piece of film or sensor to obtain the needed negative or digital file. But capturing the essence of time, as to what really is time, is a daunting task for a two-dimensional flat photograph print.
There are photographic projects where it become evident that the photographer is just a visitor, dropping in to take a photo-op, collect some photo-trophies and then rushes back home for the evening to spend time with their spouse and kids. With Zoe Strauss’s recent project, America by Zoe Strauss, published by AMMO Books, I quickly understand that these rough and tumble neighborhoods of South Philly are where she lives. She is not a stranger, but a local, calling this area home.
When the subject of “regulars” comes up, I think of folks who visit a given place in a habitual way, and after reading Sarah Stolfa’s photobook The Regulars, perhaps the immediate context is of a favorite club, tavern or bar. Stolfa made this series of photographs while running the bar at a downtown joint in Philadelphia. But when reflecting on how each of us spend our lives, we all have haunts that we continually find ourselves returning to, otherwise why would there be those who discuss things with you as though it was part of a continuous conversation?
In an attempt to better understand Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison’s new book counterpoint, I found myself referring to The Architect’s Brother, an earlier published book by Robert ParkeHarrison from Twin Palms Publishers. Regretfully I did not purchase the earlier book when it was available.
In Imaginary Meetings, the eight year retrospective of the young Finnish photographer Riitta Paivalainen, I have found some very delightful and thoughtful conceptual photographs. This book is an accumulation of a number of projects that Paivalainen has created, building on a similar theme utilizing similar subjects, advancing her ideas and concepts.
When reviewing Jim Goldberg’s photobook Open See, published this year by Steidl, it may be initially a stretch to think of this body of work coming from the Magnum photographic agency as a photojournalist project. In more than one way it is difficult to think of this body of work as a derivative of the other renowned members of this storied cooperative photographic agency, including such photographic luminaries as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, David Seymour, Dennis Stock, Burk Uzzle, Sebastiao Salgado, Marc Riboud, Elliot Erwit, Bruce Davidson and Steve McCurry.
New Mexico : Lee Friedlander was published concurrently by Radius Books with the Friedlander exhibition at the Andrew Smith Gallery, Sante Fe, NM in the Fall of 2008. Thus in one sense, this book can be viewed as one heck of a great catalog.
Douglas Stockdale is a photographer, author and writer when not working his day job. His photographic projects and stories explore questions from our dreams, experiences and memories. His first self-published book is In Passing and he recently completed his latest photo-project Insomnia: Hotel Noir. He is a photobook critic with his own photo-blog, The PhotoBook, available at www.thephotobook.wordpress.com. Douglas’s web site is www.douglasstockdale.com and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.