Wednesday, January 9, 2019

5 Best Photobooks 2018 - my selection

Given the prolific volume of photobooks published every year it's impossible to get an complete overview of what's out there. However here are five new books that struck me and now sit comfortably in my photobook library. If there is a factor common to each of these books it's on one level the authenticity of the approach, images made from heart and head. And secondly all firmly coming from a documentary tradition. 

Paul Kooiker’s EGGS AND RARITIES is an“encyclopaedia of life” in 164 images. This ambitious but utopian project reads like a sampler of photographic genres: landscape, nude, still life, etc. To achieve this, Kooiker often uses clichés more reminiscent of the propaganda of tourist brochures or of religious and political rhetoric in the media. 

John Gossage LOOKING UP BEN JAMES. This is a book of photographs first and foremost, by an endlessly experimental photographer. He is essentially a street photographer, a flâneur with an emphasis upon the urban landscape, although that does not begin to describe the range or depth of his practice. Gossage has developed into one of the most recognisable photographic voices over the years, and that can mean resorting – quite naturally, all artists do it – to a repertory of stylistic and contextual devices, that go to make up his distinctive voice. I know his work intimately, so I am very aware of his little strategies and visual foibles, but I can also say that, like a good jazz improviser, he is always trying to surprise himself, and come up with a picture that one has never quite seen before. Gerry Badger 

Gerry Johansson DEUTSCHLAND SUPPLEMENT...They’re unique experiences, quite unlike most of what is going on in the world of contemporary photography. Everything about them feels extremely carefully considered, yet there is a lightness to them that is quite rare. Jörg M. Colberg 

In “Waffenruhe” Michael Schmidt brings together surprising combinations of images to express a generation’s dystopian sense of life shortly before the fall of the Wall. Schmidt evokes a world of ruptures and absences that eschews a confident, comprehensive point of view. Tipi Bookshop

In Domesticated Land, Susan Lipper navigates an apocalyptic world poised between inertia and the end of mankind, somewhere in the California desert. Uncannily tranquil, the landscape offers a trans-historical litany of monuments, icons and signs from which the author and protagonist constructs a narrative interspersed with the words of historic and contemporary women. Putting female subjectivity into relief, Lipper obfuscates the romantic notion of the desert as a land of freedom and self-enlightenment. A lone snake, a dilapidated home, the remains of a cinematic stage set, the head of a fallen woman, a military base, barbed wire: such facts create fiction, and one that serves as an unnerving political admonition concerning the current state of America. Mack Books

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