An archive of my ever expanding book and print collection

Month: March, 2012

Rinko Kawauchi – Murmuration

Rinko Kawauchi is the third and final photographer that was commissioned to produce work for the 2010 Brighton Photo Biennial (Alec Soth’s and Stephen Gill’s books can be seen here). Whilst well respected in her home country of Japan for many years, it is only in the last 5-10 years that Kawauchi’s work has been appreciated worldwide and garnered the international acclaim it deserves. Her work is uniquely serene, she is able to capture the beauty and calm of even the most mundane environment. For her BPB commission, Kawauchi was drawn to the thousands of Starlings that would flock around Brighton pier at dusk; the title Murmuration is the collective noun for a flock of Starlings. Kawauchi captured the fleeting ever changing formations the Starlings created against the winter sky and continued this theme by following groups of people around the streets of Brighton. The resulting book, produced in an edition of 1000, brings together these images and beautifully captures the transition from the end of summer in to autumn and winter. The book is still available from Photoworks, although signed copies have sold out.

David Bailey – Havana

In 2006, acclaimed British photographer David Bailey released Havana, published by Steidl; a book of photographs produced during his travels in Cuba. Bailey stated that this project was not meant to be a deep and meaningful commentary on the country, more a superficial “quick impression of a place that is unique in its geographical position….to be one of the poorest nations on Earth, almost within spitting distance of the richest, makes the poverty of Cuba seem more extreme”. The images in the book are rich in depth and colour and cover a range of genres from portraiture to reportage. Included in the book are photographs that depict quintessentially Cuban motifs, the classic vintage cars, boxing training camps, beautifully decrepit buildings and Santerian iconography to mention a few. Whilst Cuba has a tendency to be seen as somewhat of a  time-warped communist theme park, these pictures, whilst acknowledging and referencing this, do not dwell on it and make it the sole focus of the project. I was lucky enough to meet David Bailey and get a signed copy of the book which is now in its second printing; the book is large and beautifully produced, bound in embossed leather with a tipped in photograph on the front.

Carmen and Alec Soth – Brighton Picture Hunt

At the end of 2010, the Brighton Photo Biennial commissioned three artists to produce work around the UK seaside towns of Brighton and Hove. One of the selected artists was acclaimed US photographer Alec Soth who flew over only to be refused a permit to work. To work around this, Soth’s daughter Carmen who was travelling with him became the photographer. Each day they would make a wishlist of things they would like to take a picture of and then they would set out, walking around Brighton for a few hours each day to try and capture these images. This project is a unique take on the traditional photography essay; by making his daughter the photographer, images are captured from a unique perspective, “I’d give anything to be able to see the world with such open eyes. Her visual vocabulary isn’t cluttered with all of the cliches and references that mine is…..They show this city from a child’s perspective which has as much validity as if a professional had made the pictures”. The resulting book Brighton Picture Hunt, published by Photoworks, was produced in an edition of 1000 copies, a small number of which were signed. The book is still available from the Photoworks website, as is a limited edition print from the project.


Ryan McGinley – Moonmilk

New York based photographer Ryan McGinley exploded on to the art scene at the beginning of 2000 and quickly notched up a solo show at the Whitney Museum in 2003 and numerous awards. His work has a free, uninhibited, hedonistic feeling to it, often taking quirky indie kids and photographing them nude in nature. His projects were often turned into handmade or limited run books which were snapped up and have become true collectors items. One of his most recent books, Moonmilk, published by Morel Books, takes his subjects into huge underground caves in the North American wilderness. In a departure from his usual style, his subjects in these ethereal images almost disappear in to the landscape, the rock formations and the other worldly lighting are almost the stars. McGinley said he was inspired by the novels of Jules Verne and Mark Twain and the title of the project references the crystalline deposits found on the walls of the caves;  it was once believed that these crystals were formed by light from celestial bodies passing through rock into the dark world below. Moonmilk was New York Time’s photobook of the year in 2009 and both print runs quickly sold out. The book itself, as with all books by Morel, is expertly produced; due to it’s tight binding I have had to cheat and take the inside images from Morel’s and McGinley’s websites so as as not to damage my copy!


Stephen Gill – Japan Earthquake Fundraising Print

This past weekend was the first anniversary of the earthquake that devastated eastern Japan. In response to the urgent need for humanitarian aid, artists all over the world released artworks to raise funds for various charities. Through his own imprint, Nobody Books, London-based photographer Stephen Gill offered a print to raise funds for Japan Red Cross and Japan Tsunami Appeal. The image was taken from his Coming Up For Air series which had been released as a book just a few months prior to the earthquake; the images were taken during Gill’s travels through Japan in 2008 and 2009.

Coming Up For Air

David Maisel – Cascade Effect (One Picture Book 49)

Since 2000, US Publisher Nazraeli Press has worked with a number of artists to produce the One Picture Book series. Each title in the series is produced in a limited run of 500 copies, each with a print and hand signed and numbered by the artist. For number 49, entitled Cascade Effect, David Maisel presented works from his 1985 project, The ForestThese black and white aerial  photos show the destruction caused by clear-cut deforestation in Maine, USA. From this angle, the full extent of the thousands of trees uprooted and discarded on the sides of rivers and lakes and the permanent impact it has on the landscape can be seen. The title itself references the term for a series of environmental crises triggered by extinctions within an ecosystem. Accompanying the images is an excerpt from Susan Stewart’s poem, The Forest. 

Paul Graham – American Night

It was announced this week that Paul Graham is the 2012 recipient of the Hasselblad Award. Grahams extensive career, over 25 years, has often highlighted the social divides present in the USA and UK; his numerous books on the subject have become highly collectible, not least the multi-award winning A Shimmer Of Possibility. In his book American Night, published by Steidl, Graham juxtaposes images of the American Dream with what for many is the American Reality, the gaping void between rich and poor, black and white. The subjects in his images are often solitary figures shown at a distance, the images almost completely bled of colour and depth so that the subjects become almost invisible. In contrast, there are portraits showing the poor, the disadvantaged and the destitute close up and in full colour as if holding up a declaration of what is all around us in many cities in the US but so often ignored. At the opposite end of the spectrum Graham shows the American Dream of the new car and manicured home in such vibrant technicolour and perfection that they look like film sets.

The theme of the book is reflected and reinforced by the binding and the limited text inside. The hardback is crystal white, with the title embossed on the front; inside the text is white on white.


Visionaire 26: Fantasy

For their 26th issue, Visionaire presented the theme Fantasy in a custom made round box. For the cover, Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin photographed pieces created especially for the issue by Nicolas Ghesquiere, Viktor & Rolf and Jeremy Scott. Inside the box there was a  carnival mask made of Hermes fabric and a collection of unbound round artwork. As with all Visionaire issues, it brought together an incredible list of artists and designers including Gregory Crewdson, Tim Burton, Karl Lagerfeld, and in a section curated by Isabella Blow, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy and David LaChapelle. There are also a number of images by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott (with Mert Alas being credited as Matt Alas, a possible print error). In an extra twist on the presentation, one of the cards (an iridescent pink peacock feather) came with instructions on how to convert the card in to a hat.

The Case

The Mask

Matthew Barney – Cremaster 1

Cremaster 1 was the second film in Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle to be produced, created one year after Cremaster 4 which I have previously covered. The stage for this film is the Bronco Stadium in Boise Idaho, Barney’s hometown. In this film, a troupe of dancers stand on the bright blue AstroTurf of the playing field whilst two blimps fly overhead. In each blimp are four air hostesses that sit and tend to a table covered in grapes with a sculpture at it’s centre. Underneath each table resides the Goodyear character, occupying both blimps at the same time. From beneath the tables Goodyear starts to pry a hole in the tabletop, through which she collects the grapes. As the grapes fall to the ground, the camera switches to the playing field below where the dancers recreate the pattern formed by the grapes in the blimps above. As the pattern of the grapes shifts, so too do the dancers. As the grapes and chorus girls form the field emblem of the Cremaster Cycle, Goodyear appears on the field holding two smaller blimps, the dancers then change formation to depict the undifferentiated gonadal state that is reinforced by the blimps above and the sculptures on the tables.

The catalogue accompanying the film was produced by Kunsthalle Wien and is now out of print. The book contains numerous stills from the film along with images of drawings and sculptures associated with the project.

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