Thursday, July 30, 2015


 Since the banking crisis of 2008 the world of international finance has increasingly come under the spotlight. The consequent squeeze on public finances has led to global firms such as Starbucks, Google and Amazon coming under fire for the techniques that they use to avoid paying tax. Underpinning much of this financial manipulation by the global brands is the shadowy world of the tax haven. They may be legal but their morality is deeply unsettling. Driven by a relentless obsession to translate this rather immaterial subject into images, Paolo Woods and Gabriele Galimberti have spent over two years travelling to the offshore centres that embody tax avoidance, secrecy, offshore banking and extreme wealth. Their photographs reveal a world of exploitation and privilege that distorts the financial markets and benefits those that already have the most. The book is presented as if it were an annual report and the accompanying text by author Nicholas Shaxson presents a clear insight into how these tax havens feed into the global economy and how they impact not only on the world of business but also on our everyday lives.

Published by Dewi Lewis, The Heavens is a slip-cased hardback edition, 310mm x 246mm, 218 pages with 84 colour plates & extensive illustrations

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Copeland Book Market - this weekend in London

Although many of the readers if this blog will not be in London right now, because I love London and books, here's a shout-out for the Copeland Book Market which is happening in the London district of Peckham this weekend.
Now in it's 4th year the Copeland Book Market is like a mini OffPrint with around 40 participants, from ABC Artist's Book Cooperative, to Bemojake, Morel Books, Preston is my Paris, Trolley Books and much more.

ABC Artists' Books Cooperative, Afterall, AOTCS Press, Aorist, Arcadia Missa, Assembly Point, Baron Magazine, BemojakeCabinetCafe Royal BooksCamberwell PressClinicDobedoEROS PressFaber & FaberFitzcarraldo EditionsFour Corners BooksGrantaHere PressJane & JeremyKesselskramer PublishingLoose JointsMACKMelville HouseMiniclickThe ModernistMorel Booksn+1the PlantationPreston Is My Paris South London GallerySPBH EditionsStinging FlyTheo SimpsonTrolley BooksUgly Duckling PresseUmbrella GroupVillageThe White Review.

Copeland Book Market 2015 happens this year from the 31st July - 02 August 2015 at their usual location, Bold Tendencies in Peckham.

And while you're in Peckham there is the chance to check out the vibrant local art scene in a district that is one of the most ethnically diverse areas of the UK.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Wolfgang Tillmans - his consuming eye

Wolfgang Tillmans has always been high on my list of photographers whose work I like and admire. Why? Put simply, Tillmans has an uncanny ability to make something out of nothing. Yes, he photographs the banal and the ordinary, but never in a self-conscious way. There is never any artiface in the pictures, no clever (read stupid) juxtapositions. The photographs just are.  Tillmans' makes photography look easy, which of course it isn't. Further, he's been known to say, take something and make something of it. This he does with ease in his bookworks and exhibitions.
It is no surprise that Tillmans won this years Hasselblad award. They say this: Through a consistently challenging and engaging approach to the photographic image in all its forms, its presentation for exhibition and for publications, Tillmans has transformed the relationship between photography and the spaces and languages of contemporary art. He is among the most influential artists for recent and current generations of students, defining the potential and power of the photographic image in the twenty-first century.
To read the full award text you can go to the Hasselblad Foundation site HERE.

And on American Suburb X this week there is the text of a lecture Tillmans gave at the Royal Academy of Arts London in February 2011. Last Autumn I did a talk in New York at the ICP [International Center of Photography] and I thought how am I going to do this one, and I realized that a lot of the audience were just about born when I started working [laughs]. Suddenly, this sense that I have of the overlook of the development of my work was probably lost to a lot of people in the audience. So, I’m going to do something similar and I’m going to show you a lot of pictures. This is going to be feature film length, but I promise not longer than 90 minutes. You can read the full piece on ASX HERE.

You can go to Wolfgang Tillmans' website HERE.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Andrew Phelps - new bookwork, cubic feet / sec.

Andrew Phelps' latest bookwork arrived in my mail box a little while ago (thank you Andrew). The book documents three decades of Andrew traveling through the Grand Canyon by boat with his father. But the book is more than just a family adventure story. Cubic feet is a moving and seductive book, it speaks of trust, connection, humanity and the grandeur of America. It's a welcome and persuasive antidote to what for many has become a failed society, full of of violence, racism, corruption and greed. Little wonder Andrew has been living in Europe since the 90's. I recommend this book for its quiet authenticity.

Below are images from the book, you can see more on Andrew Phelps' website HERE where you can also buy the book. The book is 108 pages, 18x23 cm, soft-bound, with gate fold covers.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Benge on books at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki OUTPOST blog

Eve de Castro-Robinson shoots Ron and Harvey ACG

Recently, Auckland Art Gallery curator Ron Brownson and I had an action packed Sunday session, in the Galleries auditorium, talking before what seemed to be a lively audience, about my photobook production. The Gallery has produced a podcast of the discussion which you can listen to HERE.

The event linked to the Galleries acquisition of my photobook output to date, some sixty plus books. You can see the Auckland Art Galleries alphabetical list of the books HERE and a chronological list HERE.  You can also go to the Galleries OUTPOST blog post HERE.

Ron cautions listeners to the podcast that it contains language that may offend. That's a surprise as I don't think I said fuck once and Ron was his usual circumspect self.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

JH ENGSTRÖM - Random, an excerise in book production from MÖREL


First presented at OffPrint London in May, Random is an exercise in producing a book solely on the "will of the medium".
Engstrom randomly selected 60 images. Forty of these images were randomly selected by Mörel and randomly sequenced. The printer was asked to print the book on any uncoated paper they randomly had to spare. Finally, a friend of Mörel's was asked to photograph random parts of the book's content which was then printed on a fiber based wallpaper material for the covers.

I was delighted get a copy of Random at OffPrint London, and to me it was one of the standout books I found at the fair. The book is in an edition of only 100 and at the time of writing only 30 copies are left. The bookwork is 30 x 25 cm and has 40 pages. £25 + Shipping.

You can find out more and order from the MÖREL Books site HERE.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Prix Pictet - shortlist announced

Harvey Benge - Pieter Hugo talks, Auckland January 2012
The shortlist of twelve photographers selected for the sixth Prix Pictet, on the theme Disorder, was announced last Friday.

The photographers are: Ilit Azoulay, born Jaffa 1972, lives and works Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Israel • Valérie Belin, born Boulogne-Billancourt 1964, lives and works Paris, France • Matthew Brandt, born Los Angeles 1982, lives and works Los Angeles, USA • Maxim Dondyuk, born Polyan’ 1983, lives and works Nova Kabovka, Ukraine • Alixandra Fazzina, born London 1974, lives and works London, UK • Ori Gersht, born Tel Aviv 1967, lives and works London, UK • John Gossage, born New York 1946, lives and works Washington DC, USA • Pieter Hugo, born Johannesburg 1976, lives and works Cape Town, South Africa • Gideon Mendel, born Johannesburg 1959, lives and works London, UK • Sophie Ristelhueber, born Paris 1949, lives and works Paris, France • Brent Stirton, born Durban 1969, lives and works New York, USA • Yang Yongliang, born Shanghai 1980, lives and works Shanghai, China

The winner of the Prix Pictet will be announced by Honorary President Kofi Annan on 12 November 2015, on the occasion of the opening of an exhibition of works by the twelve shortlisted photographers at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

Now in its sixth cycle, the Prix Pictet was founded by the Pictet Group in 2008. Today the Prix Pictet is recognised as the world’s leading prize for photography. On an 18-month cycle the award focuses on a theme that promotes discussion and debate on issues of sustainability. The prize of 100,000 Swiss francs is awarded for a body of work that speaks most powerfully to the theme of the award, which in this cycle is Disorder.

Each cycle of the Prix Pictet tours the world, including exhibitions in over a dozen countries annually, bringing the work of the shortlisted photographers before a wide international audience. The Disorder tour begins in January 2016 with shows in Rome and Geneva.

The Prix Pictet is published in book form, with extensive documentation of the work of each of the shortlisted photographers together with images from the wider group of nominees and essays by leading writers on the theme of the prize.

Harvey Benge - John Gossage, Paris Photo 2011

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Photobook - too many bad ones and not enough good

Maarten Schilt is publisher at Amsterdam based Schilt Publishing and Schilt Gallery, respectively a publishing house specialised in high quality photography books, and a commercial gallery representing a wide range of top class artists from all over the world.

Back in September Maarten Schilt was asked by CORTONA ON THE MOVE to comment on the state of photobook publsignig today. In an article titled Are You Dreaming to Publish a Photobook? - he says this: High quality photo books are extremely expensive to produce. Besides, discounts to book shops and online shops (roughly 50%) as well as distributor’s fees (roughly a third of the remaining 50%) eat up almost 70% of the official retail price. Then we have to deal with huge shipping costs (from the printer or bindery to warehouses in different countries), storage costs for somewhat older books (only after they are one year old!), marketing costs (expensive for all over the world also), royalties and – in our case fortunately small – overheads. So hardly any money is left, as simple as that. If enough books would be sold, it still might be economically doable. But, here comes the biggest problem of all: there are way too many books on the market and every year thousands and thousands of new photo books are thrown into the book market jungle. By publishers, by photographers, by… I don't know but it seems more and more people are thinking it is necessary to produce photo books! It is absolutely crazy. And all these books end up on the same global market, surely also because of the internet. So what is the result? Print runs go down dramatically, resulting in even more economic malaise. It just does not make sense. Besides, 95% of all photo books produced are not very interesting or even quite bad. They can sometimes be very well made technically, but even then the question should always be: are they necessary? Are the subject and the quality of the photography important enough to throw in tens of thousands of euros in production costs? It seems as if hardly anybody is asking these questions.

What Maarten has said is quite true. On one hand technological advances with both digital and offset printing has made it so much easier to produce a book, on the other hand with the closing of so many bricks and mortar book shops channels of distribution have narrowed and there is simply less shelf space available for books. As British publisher Dewi Lewis said in a recent TIME story, this is not the golden age of photobooks. You can read the full text of Maarten Schilt's COTM piece HERE and Dewi Lewis's TIME story HERE.

You can go to the Schilt Publishing website HERE and Dewi Lewis HERE.

And finally as John Waters cryptically observes:

Monday, July 13, 2015

Tokyo - finding God

Amongst its wild crazyness Tokyo has bookshops that are as good as you will find anywhere.

Located in Tokyo's up-scale Daikanyama shopping district Tsutaya Books is nothing short of amazing. If only all bookshops could be like this. Designed by Tokyo's Klein Dytham Architecture, (the people that brought the world Pecha Kucha), Tsutaya is spread across three interlinked buildings adorned with lattices of interlocking Ts. The T stands for retail chain Tsutaya. There is something for everybody here and when tired of the browsing the books the upstairs Anjin lounge is a stunning refuge.

Finding God and Superlabo publisher Yasunori Hoki

Located in the AXIS building in Roppongi the IMA Concept Store combines gallery and photobook store. Well worth a look and for me, nice to find God here too.

The book, How Humans Made God, you can check it out on the Superlabo site HERE.