Last week we returned from an inspiring long weekend at Unseen Photo Fair Amsterdam. Amongst the programme of events on offer, we were particularly excited to spend some time in the UNSEEN Book Market. With major art book events occurring in both New York and Japan during the same weekend, the market at UNSEEN was small but lively with around 60 publishers taking part and filling a lovely glass room full of printed matter. Here we share some of our favourite new (and re-) discoveries from the weekend.
Vincent Delbrouck was this years’ recipient of the Outset Unseen Exhibition Fund, being awarded the grant for work shot in Cuba and Nepal across a ten year period. We were struck by the colourful, intense and highly intuitive portrayal of life in Kathmandu in Delbrouck’s newest photobook Dzogchen. His analogue process involves collaging, superimposing and scanning images. Alongside Dzogchen were a couple of other great books by Delbrouck, most notably Some Windy Trees, which is well worth looking out for.
Thomas Albdorf’s new publication – published with TPG Bookshop favourites Lodret Vandret – looks at the construction of Austria within common image spaces and plays with the country’s alpine landscape rhetoric, in classic film, advertising and political propaganda. This beautifully printed book collects Albdorf’s experiments in constructing mountainous spaces through various methods of image production. Besides being one of the books everyone was talking about this year, Albdorf’s photographs were also part of one of our favourite displays within the fair, installed at the Webber Gallery Space booth.
Maurice van Es originally self-published Now Will Not Be With Us Forever in a tiny edition of fifty copies, editing the whole thing himself. We were pleased to hear that a publishing house would be taking on the book and producing a larger edition and who better to take on this ambitious project than RVB Books? Debuting at the Unseen Book Market, the publication (or ‘bookcassette’ as van Es calls it) is made up of eight small books, each one focusing on a different subtlety or nuance from the artists’ everyday life: his brother leaving the house each day, the textures of his childhood home and the accidental sculptures his mother makes while undertaking her household chores. The book is a touching and impressive body of work.
Lâmo Lâva, which is old French patois for “ Up there, down there” follows artist Melanie Matthieu’s journey to the site of Our Lady of La Salette in the French Alps, where an apparition is said to have taken place in 1846. The black and white images are spare and evocative, and the book is beautifully made – combining photographs, textual fragments and a print within a navy blue hand-folded cover. Other books we loved at the Alauda Publications table were the research books on Robert Smithson and Moldovan museums.
In celebration of their fifth birthday, Self Publish, Be Happy just released Self Publish, Be Happy: A DIY Photobook Manual and Manifesto, co-published with Aperture. The book is a wonderful, affordable object that offers an honest and exciting take on the self-publishing scene of the last five years with a cacophony of great voices involved. To celebrate its launch, SPBH embarked upon an ambitious project to create a photobook live in 24 hours across three time zones in Amsterdam, Tokyo and New York. The Amsterdam leg of the project was a fantastic addition to the atmosphere of the book market and included artists Isabelle Wenzel, Justin James Reed and Jaap Scheeren.
After the incredible success of Tokyo Parrots and Colours, we were eagerly (if a little nervously) anticipating Yoshinori’s next photobook release, but he hasn’t disappointed with Yusukira. In what seems to have become a distinct style that the artist has cultivated for himself, the book – following Mizutani’s quest for nature in the dense city of Tokyo – is bleached in colour, with the same magical qualities as his previous publications.
Having previously published Viviane Sassen’s Lexicon and Daisuke Yokota’s Site/Cloud, we would say that the Japanese publishing house Art Beat Publishers know how to make a good photobook. One of their more recent offerings, Rainbow Variations, impressed us at the fair for its graphic simplicity. Koyama’s various rainbow projects and experiments are kaleidoscopic and sparkling. This book can only be described as delicious!
This book was released back in 2013, but we thought it worth mentioning the presence of B-B-B Books at the fair, run by artist couple Klara Källström and Thobias Fäldt, because of the sheer pleasure of experiencing photography through printed matter that they offer in their pubications. A Beach consists of photographs of the Arab city of Jaffa and as an object it’s truly brilliant: through interesting accordion-fold binding and folded poster inserts, it offers a uniquely tangible and physical way of discovering the most simple but crucial of things, narrative.
At the Poursuite Editions table, Laurent Chardon’s Dédale stood out for us. Released earlier this year the book documents the transformation of the city during the years 2003 to 2013. It’s a book full of gorgeous black and white pictures of architecture in Paris: dark, sculptural and reminiscent of Lewis Baltz’s Tract Houses.
Brazilian photographer Caio Reisewitz focuses largely on the changing relationship between the city and the countryside in a period of economic development in his photobook Disorder. Reisewitz presents photographs, landscape works and Dada-inspired photomontages and the result is a rich publication spanning a remarkable body of work.
RIOT Books is a really exciting small publisher (check out You Haven’t Seen Their Faces and Euromaidan for some of their best titles) and their modest catalogue of handmade publications features a particularly compelling publication called Mühit. Now in its second edition, Mühit sees photographer Ilkin Huseynov trace back to his childhood in Azerbaijan and the result is a heady and bittersweet journey in photography.
Over at the Flowers Gallery booth in the main section of the fair we had a chance to catch up with exhibiting artist John MacLean and he showed us the dummy of his new publication, Hometowns. MacLean journeys through the places that shaped the artistic visions of artists that have influenced him and endeavours to depict each place by stylistically referencing the artist in question each time. Every image corresponds to the initials of that artist, for us to then decipher. The photographs are brilliant – keep an eye out for the book to be published!
In the centre of the book market was a display of the finalists of Unseen’s photobook prize – the Unseen Dummy Award. On Friday afternoon, the winner was announced (by a jury including Paul Kooiker and Simon Baker) as Yoshinori Masuda’s Tiger 2. The book is strange, confusing and weirdly brilliant. Other books in the shortlist that particularly stood out for us were Nico Krijno’s New Gestures, Fabricated to be Photographed; Francesca Tamse’s Young men on the English terrain; and Alexander Basile & Alwin Lay’s Landscape of Desire. You can see the entire shortlist