Michele Cera, Dust (Kehrer, 2013)
I first discovered Michele Cera’s photographs of Albania a few years ago at Sifest in the little Italian town of Savignano sul Rubicone. The work that I saw there has just been published in this pleasingly modest little book Dust. The people that find themselves trapped in Cera’s all seem to be waiting—head in hands, hands on hips, sitting, leaning, standing—not for anything of consequence, but just for time to pass them by.
I’m heading to Dusseldorf this Friday to take part in the Dusseldorf Photo Weekend 2014. There’s going to be lots of good stuff going on including a Magazine Salon, some Duane Michals, some Peter Bialobrzeski, and Boehm Kobayashi’s Antifoto #5 with the world-renowned MacDonaldStrand photo pub quiz.
I just realised that I hadn’t yet posted about Tokyo 1970, Japanese Photographers 9, the exhibition catalogue for a show organized by IMA magazine and curated by Akio Nagasawa that took place in Tokyo last October. The show centered on the hugely influential avant-garde film-maker, theatre director and all-round genius Shuji Terayama with work by nine photographers including Eikoh Hosoe’s Simon, A Private Landscape, Moriyama’s Shashin yo Sayonara and Katsumi Watanabe’s Story of the Shinjuku Thieves. Although I wasn’t able to see the show, I contributed a text to the catalogue, ”The Twisted Movements of a Gigantic Creature”.
Momo Okabe, Dildo (Session Press, 2013)
Not many people will have seen this extraordinary book by the Japanese photographer Momo Okabe as it was only published in an edition of 55. Dildo is a series of photographs of two of Okabe’s former lovers and their struggle with issues of gender identity over a period of four years. The book is made up of offset photographs hand-pasted into a spiral bound photo-album. The pace of the edit is surprising, jumping back and forth between landscapes, portraits, and visual fragments and debris in a way that somehow successfully evokes the confusion and ambiguity experienced by these young women. I believe that Session Press are working on another project with Okabe for this year which will in a larger edition so keep an eye out for that.
Adam Magyar's series Stainless is getting a lot of attention right now. He is not the first to have attempted something like this, but despite the tried and tested subject, there is something genuinely compelling about this ultra slow-motion subway platform footage. This video is from Tokyo and Magyar has also posted excerpts from Berlin and New York.
The BJP has just launched it’s Ones to Watch issue with a selection of 30 photographers to keep an eye on this year. Like Winterthur’s Plat(t)form event this was another crowd-sourced selection with 66 nominators putting forward their shortlists. Glad to see that one of my picks, Daisuke Yokota, made it into the issue. More info here.
Paul Gaffney, We Make the Path by Walking (Self-published, 2013)
For his first book, the Irish photographer Paul Gaffney took on one of the quintessential and arguably most difficult photographic subjects: the walk in nature. This is a very simple book, a series of moments from what feel like aimless wanderings, but that does not mean that it lacks ambition. Taking on such a quiet and unspectacular subject given today’s photographic appetites is no easy task. There is no sense of place here: these are photographs of entirely anonymous landscapes in which nature is allowed to be beautiful, but never overwhelmingly so. Place gives way to the experience of the walk: a wandering mind, small discoveries along the way, the traces left behind by others.
Fotomuseum Winterthur’s annual Plat(t)form portfolio review weekender is coming up on 25-26 January. The nice twist to the Winterthur event, which focuses on European photography, is that the participants are nominated by photo people (full disclosure: I was one of the nominators this year) and get their travel expenses paid for rather than having to scrape the cash together themselves. There is a long list of participants from all over Europe so I won’t list them all here but the names include Max Pinckers, Carlos Spottorno and Tom Lovelace, to pick out just three. Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it but Laurence Vecten of oneyearofbooks will be there so the blogosphere will be well represented.
Klaus Pichler, Skeletons in the Closet (Self-published, 2013)
I have always loved natural history museums. As a student in Dublin we would wander through the Irish Natural History Museum (affectionately known as the Dead Zoo) looking for shoddily stapled together wild boar or sellotaped rodents. Pichler’s book takes us into the belly of one of these museums to explore what goes on behind the scenes. Aside from the humour of an encounter between a monkey and a badger, happening upon a grizzly in an elevator or running into a shark in an anonymous basement corridor, the book translates the childish wonder that first attracts us to these places and our strange attempts to preserve and restage the natural world. Although everything in these photographs is dead, this is a book that is full of life.