Thinking About Photography
Dedicated to expanding our ideas about photography
Photographers and Artists' Books
©Libro Fotoquimico / Photochemical Book
I love books - picture books, art bios, literature, trashy summer reads (it’s always summer for me), graphic novels, cookbooks, self-help (total sucker for anything related to the mind/body connection) - from the giant The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman to the slim Gratitude by Oliver Sacks, I love them all. So it's probably no big surprise that my all time favorites are artist's books - especially those of the handmade persuasion.
McManus & Morgan Fine Art Paper
Artist's books allow art to jump from the wall to the hand, from public to personal and intimate. And while art mostly hangs on a generic wall (usually not one of its own choosing) and words sit on plain stock - in an artist's book the surface is incorporated in a collaborative way that becomes a wild marriage of form and function.
Each element is its own rabbit hole that goes way beyond the design concept with papers, threads and ribbons. Here in Southern California we are blessed in the form of McManus & Morgan Fine Art Paper, which I believe is one of the oldest paper companies in L.A. I adore this place. It's an amazing resource where you'll find hand-marbled papers, papyrus and bark papers. In fact, I was so inspired by their handmade Nepalese paper I did an entire series on it. Plus, it's located next to another L.A. gem, Aardvark Letterpress. Let's not forget Hiromi Paper specializing in papers from Japan and around the world. We are truly blessed with an abundance of riches here.
The best thing about running this showcase is the experience of meeting new artists and seeing what's happening around the world - which is how I learned about Taller Emulsiones Fotograficas. Looking at the top image on this essay, I think you can see why I was so entranced by the work they do. Founded and run by Catalina de la Cruz, a photographer and bookmaker, this organization hosts a wide range of creative experiences, related to the photochemical image, including a book-making workshop series started in 2016 which has published 127 books. Her workshops specialize in “photochemical books” which differ from straight artist’s books in that they are unique, one-of books which utilize 19th century alternative process photographic methods such as Cyanotype, Van Dyke and Salted paper. Embracing experimentation, chance plays its role in the production of the imagery which is then bound together to create a single piece of work.
In her own work she has been drawn to the artist book format because she feels there are photographic works that require more than one image in order to be displayed. The book format, with its sequential style, builds a visual narrative that unfolds page after page, with the images chained and connected, creating a unique visual and tactile experience. "As the reader journeys through the book, the anteceding page leaves a footprint in the eye and the sequential possibilities allows one to build a work with higher complexities, layers of information, poetics that are not reduced to a meaning, and a visual support in dialogue with the immersive experience of the book." Please take a moment after the showcase and check out this wonderful Photochemical Book project located in Chile's capital city Santiago.
As you journey through this showcase you will find that each artist has taken a unique path through the process. For some, the subject is very personal and the book becomes an attempt to make their experiences tangible with their use of content, sequence, materials and format. Others explore the sculptural aspects of the medium by creating dynamic forms through the exploration of binding and found objects. Marvelous work throughout and my only regret is not being able to hold these wonderful projects in person! Once again, thank you to PhotoBook Journal for curating another set of engaging photobooks.