This interview continues a series of Q&As that focus on the contemporary photo book. To put this in context, today is world photo book day, which marks 170 years since the first photo book was published, purportedly in 1843, by Anna Atkins. We have certainly come a long way since Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. To celebrate this event we have asked Aron Mörel of Mörel books to respond to a few questions on the contemporary photo book, as he sees it.Aron Mörel sprawled over a concrete sphynx
1. What, in your view, do photo books contribute to the culture of photography?
To me photography feels most at home on the page – be it an album, magazine or book. These are mediums that leave the photograph at its most tangible and intelligible – at times in ergonomic perfection – allowing the viewer to read images at any pace or in any sequence. The book also gives photography to the masses. I love prints and viewing images in galleries, but they’re out or reach of my finger tips and finances, and they feel somehow elevated on a gallery wall. I like to think photography wants to be mass reproduced – the book just packages this between two covers and gets it out. Its the same revolutionary concept as taking the word from the podium and putting it via the printing press into the hands of the multitudes. The book at its best and most successful is an object of dissemination – that can change everything!
Sam Falls, Problems With Decomposition, Edition of 1000, 60 pages, 20.3 x 25.4cm
2. How do you define your role within the growing and changing field of photo book publishing? What are you trying to achieve?
I’m not sure what my role is, it changes from book to book. I do not represent any specific genre and I’m happy to work with the likes of Thomas Ruff and Terry Richardson. I also look at all the work democratically – it doesn’t matter if its Boris Mikhailov or a student, I’m just interested in the work. The greatest achievement is to put out a book which brings a body of work to light.
3. Do you publish online books and what might the future hold for this method of digitally distributing books?
So far I haven’t published any digital books. I’m happy to make PDF’s of our books available when they’re out of print, but feel this is a cheap short cut to e-publishing. Photography has no problem seeping into the digital world, not only through cameras, but through other technologies such as instagram or even moving gifs. I’d prefer to work with something more in tune with this digital aspect of the medium, than just flattening an already published book into an ebook…
Asgar Carlsen, Hester, Edition of 1000, 48 pages, 21 x 28cm
4. Which book do you feel most precisely demonstrates what your publishing company is about?
Every book I’ve published is exactly what we are about. My interest is always evolving, so I’m sure in the future I will publish something I would not consider publishing today. There are also previous books which I feel were of their time, but am still very proud of today.
5. What kind of a relationship do you strike up with the artists whose work you publish?
Mörel is small and we keep things intimate with the artists as well as with our retailers – we’re sort of a pivot between the two worlds which I feel is an important part of publishing. I wouldn’t work with someone if I felt we weren’t both in for the same reasons and enjoying ourselves in the process – life’s too short for that – and there are far to many other projects to pursue!
Ryan McGinley, Moonmilk, edition of 1000, 96 pages, 16 x 23.5cm
David Armstrong, Night and Day, edition of 1000, 150 pages, 28 x 21cm
–Aron Mörel is the owner of Mörel Books, a London based independent publisher specialising in affordable limited edition art books and booklets. “We view the book as the final step in an artists process, and encourage the artist to engage in the conception, design and feel of the book. Having worked on the book closely with the artist we feel it is only right we also keep a close relationship with our retailers – we therefore do not distribute via a third party but directly from Mörel.”