This interview further continues a series of Q&As that focus on the contemporary photo book.
Pictures from Moving Cars, Joel Meyerowitz cover, 2013, 21 x 14 cm , 21 x 14 cm, 78 pages, edition of 300, 100 for each artist’s cover
1. What, in your view, do photo books contribute to the culture of photography?
Since the 19th century photobooks have been the natural habitat for the weird and wonderful – places where you can find the strangest combinations of images, or juxtapositions of text and image, brought together for the most eccentric and unexpected reasons. Even the first so-called ‘scientific’ photobooks are full of artistry and accidental poetry. Photobooks have also always been catalysts for innovation and the exchange of ideas – they are small, portable, easy to send from one country or continent to another. The history of the photobook is therefore one of amazing moments where images produced at one time and in one place transform practice in others. They are a pure, direct means of communicating not only visual ideas but so much more. Photobooks can be brilliantly subversive, they can be produced and circulated in situations where exhibitions (by contrast) or less intimate forms of display would be impossible. They are perfect vehicles for bringing things about by chance: Araki’s early photocopy books for example, some of which were posted to addresses selected at random from the telephone directory, created an unprompted relationship with an imagined, or hoped-for audience. All photobooks are a bit like this – you never know in which hands they’ll end up, and what impact they’ll have!
Alix Janta-Polczynski and Inès de Bordas of ADAD Books
2. How do you define your role within the growing and changing field of photo book publishing? What are you trying to achieve?
It would be slightly premature, at this stage, to define our role specifically but we are strongly committed to the publication of work by emerging artists and previously unseen material by established practitioners, drawn from a range of international contexts. It is important to us that each publication is a limited edition but still an affordable singular object. In a way, our first publications, FAR, and Pictures from Moving Cars, exemplify what we want to achieve with Adad Books. FAR by Emile Hyperion Dubuisson, presents a striking but previously overlooked body of work by a young New-York based photographer. This series was made in Siberia in the 1990s while Dubuisson was working as assistant director in a film crew shooting a documentary about the former Soviet Union. Pictures from Moving Cars, published to accompany a small show curated by Simon Baker at Tokyo Photo last September, unites for the first time three great photographers: Joel Meyerowitz, Daido Moriyama and John Divola. It was an interesting and exciting challenge to bring forward such great material with the limited resources that a small publisher like Adad Books entails. The idea was to use the format of the photobook in a very simple and straightforward way in order to produce a limited and collectable object. We are looking forward to continue making books in the same spirit.
Emile Hyperion Dubuisson, FAR, 2013, 21 x 26 cm, 96 pages, edition of 600
3. Do you publish online books and what might the future hold for this method of digitally distributing books?
We don’t publish online books ourselves but it seems to us that there is great value in the use of online publishing (like MAPP for example) to make available historic or rare, hard to find books or photographic material. In this way, the afterlife of a book or photograph that has already enjoyed a long material existence is extended. But we aren’t really interested in books that have no physical existence – at least to begin with!
4. What kind of a relationship do you strike up with the artists whose work you publish?
Of course the key thing is to work with the artists themselves, and this relationship can vary from a very close working relationship to the kind where artists are confident to let us get on with producing the book, but beyond this another really important and enriching part of the process is building relationships with all the other vital people involved in the book-making process: designers, printers, binders, paper suppliers, distributors, bookshop owners and so on. We have also benefited enormously from the advice and support of our fellow photobook makers – Aron Morel’s guidance, for example, has been invaluable!
Pictures from Moving Cars, 2013, © Daido Moriyama
Pictures from Moving Cars, 2013, © John Divola