Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Season In Hell: Arthur Rimbaud, Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe.

A Season In Hell: Arthur Rimbaud, Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe. Poetry by Arthur Rimbaud, photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe, illustrations by Patti Smith, translation by Oliver Bernard. Mörel Books, 2010. 92pp., illustrated throughout, 18,5x12,5cm. Limited edition of 500 (out-of-print).

Book description:

" 'Once, if I remember correctly, my life was a feast at which all hearts opened and all wines flowed.

One day I sat beauty on my knees - And I found her bitter, - And I reviled her!...'

Thus, 20 year old Arthur Rimbaud starts his revolutionary prose poem 'A Season in Hell' shaking and leveling poetic foundations, - his words remaining as shocking today as they were in the late 19th century!

Rimbaud’s status has remained legendary and his influence runs through literature into the heart of the arts and out the mouth of Rock and Roll!

In this booklet, designed in the same style as Rimbaud’s 1873 self published edition, Patti Smith lends us her illustrations of Rimbaud, as well as a selection of photographs from the illustrious late Robert Mapplethorpe."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Sourcebook. By Lewis Chaplin. Fourteen-Nineteen Books, 2011. 60 pp., illustrated throughout, 19x25cm. Edition of 200. Images from here.

Book description:

" 'Sourcebook' presents the detritus and collected imagery of a year of contemplation, frustration and ambivalence with the nature of photography.

From an initial starting point of the typographic reference book, within its pages a myriad of situations and pictures present themselves - each at once recognisable and indecipherable.

Drawing heavily on ideas of representation and the 'reading' of an image, the work within is open-ended; a liquid, unstable mix of ideas and images that attempt to elude the conclusive, finite nature of the captured image or the printed photo.

Instead, 'Sourcebook' aims to be fluid - at once a source of reference and stimulation for future creative processes, and a photographic document littered with unanswered questions, oblique strategies and glimpses of meaning."

Friday, February 24, 2012


Reservoir. By Bas Princen. Hatje Cantz, 2011. 60 pp., illustrated throughout, 31,2x30,9cm.

Book description:

"Excesses and oddities of architecture, captured by a keen eye.

Bas Princen (*1975 in Zeeland, the Netherlands) belongs to a generation of photographers who in their very own way make reference to so-called New Topographics.

This is a group of what in the meantime consists of ten big-name landscape photographers, including Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Stephen Shore, and of course Bernd and Hilla Becher, who had their first big international success in 1975 with an exhibition of the same name at George Eastman House in Rochester.

While they distanced themselves from subjectively-tinged photography in an attempt to render stark reality as faithfully as possible, Princen objectifies urban space in a comparable way, but with an ironic twist. Seen through Princen's lens, anonymous urban architecture assumes an almost magical and slightly surrealist air."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Water Rites.

Water Rites. By Lucinda Devlin, with an essay by Michael Mackenzie. Steidl, 2004. 112 pp., illustrated throughout, 25x28cm. Images from here.

Book description:

"The American photographer Lucinda Devlin photographed the interiors of German spa facilities: sites at which people can apparently be cured of chronic illnesses.

More and more, these places are becoming leisure-time oases, whether they are from the 19th century, the post-war period or today.

The clinically sterile rooms for massages, baths, examinations and relaxation are deserted. They are silent testimonials to the healing industry, which is thoughtfully tailored to people, even while its equipment subjugates them completely.

They recall rooms of Devlin’s earlier series: the operating rooms, mortuaries and autopsy rooms in 'Corporal Arenas' and the American execution chambers in 'The Omega Suites'.

With her coolly remote photographs, Devlin presents the relationships between people and institutions and then shows how certain facilities depersonalize those relationships.

'Water Rites' conveys an insightful view into the - typically German? - mentality and source of our institutionalized humanity."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

This ain't no pancake day

The fictional character Ture Sventon by Åke Holmberg. Here in illustrations by Sven Hemmel.

Today is Shrove Tuesday, which the British also refer to as Pancake Day.

This might be the one day of the year I feel Swedish and Swedish only, because I feel absolutely certain it's Fettisdagen (which calls for a semla or two, as partaken by the gentleman in the first illustration).

For the best semla in Stockholm go here (abroad the Swedish Church is normally the place to get a semla).

Friday, February 17, 2012

Make more mist-akes

Make more mistakes. A1 paper collage by Robert Colquhoun.

New line of thought: make more mistakes...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Swiss Photobooks from 1927 to the Present.

Swiss Photobooks from 1927 to the Present. A different History of Photography. Edited by Peter Pfrunder, Fotostiftung Schweiz in cooperation with Martin Gasser and Sabine Münzenmaier. Lars Müller Publishers, 2011. 640 pp., illustrated throughout, 22x28cm. In German, with English and French translations. Images from here.

'Swiss Photobooks from 1927 to the Present' was published to coincide with the exhibition of the same name currently showing at Fo­to­stif­tung Schweiz (The Swiss Foun­da­ti­on for Pho­to­gra­phy) to mark their forti­eth an­ni­vers­a­ry.

The books included was pulled from the library of the Zentrum für Fotografie, whose catalogue you can see and search here.

Book description:

" 'Swiss Photobooks from 1927 to the Present' offers a new overview of the history of Swiss photography. The focus is on seventy selected photobooks, from classics to long-forgotten publications or brilliant works by contemporary photographic artists.

The individual books are presented with lavish series of illustrations and texts by highly-esteemed authors, while five longer essays position them in their respective eras. An extensive bibliography completes this volume.

'Swiss Photobooks' is a chronologically organized reference work that traces photography’s transition from a document to a subjective or artistic means of expression. It also pays homage to the photobook, which has repeatedly shown itself to be an ideal medium for the presentation of photographic work.

With this compact presentation published on the occasion of its fortieth anniversary the Fotostiftung Schweiz adds to its earlier standard works on the history of Swiss photography and in the process provides a new key to understanding an important aspect of contemporary visual culture since the 1920s."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Efímeros. By Jose Guerrero. Text by Bernard Plossu, Julio Llamazares, José Muñoz. Caja San Fernando, 2006. 111 pp., illustrated throughout, 25x26cm.

[Efímeros is Spanish for ephemeral.]

Book description:

" ‘Everything flows; and with it all, life too passes and there is nothing we can do to stop it’ (Heraclitus).

Birth and death, construction-destruction, rural and urban, memory and oblivion.

In these spaces that do not exist, chrysali of opposites, I found the image of an early obsession with time; that unstoppable language of concrete and asphalt that relegates the past to the recesses of memory; to the edges of the city."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The beauty of reading, the beauty of the book

Marilyn Monroe reading (source: tumblr, flickr and google - photographers unknown).

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Forces. By Sonja Braas. Essays by Susanne Pfleger, Thomas Seelig. Kehrer Verlag, 2004. 72 pp., illustrated throughout, 9,5x11,75".

Book description:

"Sonja Braas has shown an abiding interest throughout her relatively young career (she was born in 1968), in the role and perceptual stance of the viewer in relation to art works (see her two earlier bodies of work, 'You Are Here' and 'Zoos').

'Forces' is her newest body of work, consisting of photographs of snow-packed glaciers and falling rocks, swirling mists and rushing water.

As you turn the pages, you start to ask, Where were these taken? Deep in the heart of the Swiss Alps or the Chilean Andes or perhaps Greenland's vast expanses?

The questions, which remain unaswered in this book, are irrelevant and, ultimately, the key to her work. Half of these photographs are staged. They are studio constructions, fog, snow and all. And they are staged so successfully that when placed alongside the photographs of actual snow and ice, they fool the viewer. But fooling the viewer is not really the point.
Think for a moment about paintings. A painting is a construction - it's simply paint on canvas, after all - and while it may be based on a memory of a visit to a particular landscape at some point, it’s also a presentation of an overall response to place - the emotional and psychological impact the place has on the artist.

This, essentially, is what Braas is up to. She has used a specific type of landscape - glacier-like mountain passes - to create a group of images that conveys her own deep response to the abstract concept of Nature’s Forces."

Friday, February 10, 2012

Icy Prospects.

Icy Prospects. By Jorma Puranen. Texts by Jorma Puranen, Liz Wells, graphic design by Jorma Hinkka. Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2009. 120 pp., illustrated throughout, 30,9x27,6cm.

Book description:

" 'The north, this highly elusive dimension, is perhaps more than just a spiritual home. It made me what I am'. Jorma Puranen

Jorma Puranen (*1951) is one of Finland’s most well-known photographers. His work is conceptual. In his last series, he used archival visual material on Nordic themes as his point of departure, creating alternatives to the objectification and coding it contained in his own photographs.

His latest series, 'Icy Prospects', was inspired by the ways the great explorers as well as today’s tourists to the North Pole are fascinated by the arctic landscape. Puranen painted a board with black, high-gloss acrylic and then took long exposures of the icy landscapes mirrored in this wooden surface.

The results are extremely painterly, highly aesthetic, fragmented impressions of nature in which the ground, the brushstroke, and the reflection are inseparably superimposed.

In this way, the photographer creates a relationship between the philosophical concept of the 'sublime terror' of the forces of nature and his own experience of life in these regions, typifying the north as a projection surface for fantasies and the imagination."

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Under the Nordic Light.

Under the Nordic Light. A Journey through Time, Iceland 1999-2011. By Olaf Otto Becker. Texts by Petra Giloy-Hirtz, graphic design by Olaf Otto Becker. Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2011. 160 pp., illustrated throughout, 34,8x27,8cm.

Book description:

"Photographs of Icelandic landscapes between nature, civilization, and globalization.

For over ten years now, Olaf Otto Becker (*1959 in Travemünde, Germany) has traveled the high northern spheres.

On a search for the never-before-seen image of primeval landscape, where the eye encounters the boundaries of familiar vision and nature becomes a mirror of the soul, Becker observes distinctive geographic features and waits for the ideal light conditions to manifest. Then, and only then, does he remove his heavy, large-format camera from its case - often in the middle of the night - to capture nuances by weak light, while at the same time generating the maximum possible technical quality.

Becker’s deliberately subjective perspective goes beyond the notion of simply reproducing reality, so that his images are of great clarity, breadth, and concentration.

This publication contains previously published and new photographs of Iceland that show primordial landscapes alongside traces of civilization and economic crisis."

Friday, February 03, 2012

Sunshine Volition.

Sunshine Volition. By Aki Tanaka. Tosei-Sha, 2011. 64 pp., illustrated throughout, 13,5x19,5cm. Images from here.

Book description:

"On clear days I let my memories guide me as I look up to the sky.
The autumn sky in Japan is particularly evocative.
The glimmering warm sunshine,
the rustling of the trees, their fragrance.
The murmuring of the wind and the clear blue.
In the refreshing air, wrapped in the rays of the sun,
I feel very good.

I am searching for something beyond
the power of words.

Wind, water, fire, sound, light, the sun.
Scientists tell us that these things
share shimmering waves
that are called 1/f fluctuations.
They say that these waves occur in us as well.
Even the pulse of our hearts is in tune
with these fluctuations."

Thursday, February 02, 2012


Uraniwa. By Haru Kimura. Tosei-Sha, 2011. 64 pp., illustrated throughout, 20x26,4cm. Images from here.

Book description:

" 'Uraniwa' ['Backyard'] by Haru Kimura is a journey through the microcosm of a backyard garden.

These images - shot in both black-and-white and color - focus on the intricacies of insects and reptiles, while also showcasing the human imprint within such an environment."

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Sans Titre, M. Bertillion.

Sans Titre, M. Bertillion. By Stéphanie Solinas. RVB Books, 2011. 96pp. (46pp. to be cut), illustrated throughout, 19x26,6cm. Edition of 250 signed & numbered copies. Images from here and here.

An interesting look at identity, by deconstructing the man who in his search for identification "deconstructed" us by inventing Anthropometry, the scientific study of the measurements and proportions of the human body.

Book description:

"By fixing the form of identity, Alphonse Bertillon modified our faces. From an eminently personal element, he made a tool of the State, an instrument of identification: a gridded, readable, occulted, talkative, divided, synthetic surface; a necessary, sufficient summary of the multiple realities of an individual.

From this heritage, on the surface of every one of our contemporary faces, established as interfaces between individual and society where identification becomes a machine of government, subsists, barely blunted, the searching face of Alphonse Bertillon.

Through assembling the elements of this book, the possibility is given to reconstitute, for oneself, the face of 'Monsieur Bertillon', as he was called by the operators of the Paris Police Prefecture on his identification sheet established in 1891 in order to promote his identification system.

Following the indications given on the sheet, Stéphanie Solinas coloured the photographs of the inventor of judicial identity seen full face and in profile. Then, through software developed by a Cambridge computer scientist specialized in the techniques of facial analysis, she transformed Monsieur Bertillon’s double portrait in multiple facets of paper to be cut, folded and glued to form a mask in his effigy.

Based on the biography Life of Alphonse Bertillon, Inventor of Anthropometry, published in 1941 by his niece Suzanne, Stéphanie Solias has identified the significant places of Monsieur Bertillon’s course.

These stories and places she explored through photography bear witness to the Bertillon’s bodily existence and to his previous life, when his face still belonged only to himself, like so many elements from which each person may compose a face for himself, and an image of Alphonse Bertillon’s identity."