What I look for in a photobook are . . . good photos, well reproduced, with (if appropriate) text that’s illuminating, intelligent or both. I also appreciate books, and no a good photobook isn’t just the sum of its photos and text, and yes some excellent photobooks have been made out of somewhat humdrum photos. I’m not against innovation in photobook design, old (I enjoy Ipy Girl Ipy) or new (I enjoy Socotra). But I’m primarily looking for photos worth lingering over. And though Jörg Colberg writes of “how the medium ‘photobook’ has moved way beyond the simple gallery-show-on-paper format that was so prevalent not that long ago”, a “simple gallery-show-on-paper format” strikes me as the best one for most of the photos that I want to look at. (By contrast, the much-lauded design and packaging of Diamond Matters, say, is mildly diverting for a couple of minutes and no doubt is good cocktail-party chat fodder, but to me it detracts from the photos and the whole book-as-jewel metaphor seems pitched to those who appreciate the obvious.)
So what you get below are, primarily, swell receptacles of photos I enjoy. Mindlessly ordered by height, here they are:
We’ll start at the top of the pile and work downwards. Read the rest of this entry »
The top ten photobooks of 2011 — everybody else is listing them, so why not me? Answer: laziness! And so instead, my top three Japanese photobooks of the year: Read the rest of this entry »
Last week I was in Yamagata (City), for Kikai Hiroh’s big exhibition Persona. Simply, this combines the content of his earlier, large Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography exhibition “Tokyo Portraits” with work from the other two main strands of his career: India and Turkey. All in glorious black and white. Read the rest of this entry »
In a career of over 35 years, Kikai Hiroh has pursued four long-term projects, each (with rare exceptions) black and white: portraits in Asakusa (with no distracting background), urban scenes in Tokyo (with no distracting people), India, and Turkey. But while early installments of each of the first three appeared in Camera Mainichi (†1985), Turkey started later: Kikai’s first visit there was in 1994 and the earliest appearance I’ve found is in Asahi Camera of April 1997. And while each of the other three series was the subject of one or more books by the end of the century, the Turkey series got its first book only this year, with Anatolia. Here it is. Read the rest of this entry »
Intending to write up Kikai Hiroh’s Anatolia (2011), I first had to unwrap it. Which got me thinking. . . .
It came in its publisher’s cellophane wrap, or so I vaguely remember. Not being utterly mad, I would have simply removed this and thrown it in the trash. Here’s what I saw (even through any cellophane wrap): Read the rest of this entry »