This year, with the travel restrictions, I missed finding unusual little gems by routing through books and zines at book fairs, photography festivals and in book stores. I realise that of the books I’ve bought this year (so far), only five of them were published in 2020. Luckily, they are five exceptional books:
Fordlandia 9 explores the location of Henry Ford’s failed township built deep in the Brazilian rainforest. JM Ramirez-Suassi seems to openly and freely observe what is there now. The physicality of this large (just under 30 centimetres high) book is quite traditional. The images are simply laid out and beautifully printed. There is no text, other than a short quote. This is something I really appreciate. All the information a reader could possibly need is a quick web search away and I think including text in the book would have spoilt the uninhibited, spontaneous quality of Ramirez-Suassi’s exploration.
VIALATTEA is a creatively assembled and beautiful handmade object. The photographs appear to have been made through the window of a moving train. The mood is dark, mysterious and melancholic. Looking through the book feels like going on a foreboding and disorienting night journey.
This eagerly awaited 2020 reissue, completes Jason Eskenazi’s trilogy for all those (like me) who missed out on the first edition of Wonderland. It’s an honest and brilliant book, with a rhythmic sequencing of direct, unflinching images and quieter, open-ended images.
Gordon Parks’ nuanced depictions of crime in the United States are as relevant now as they were in 1957 and it is partly the combination of the elapsed time and the continuing relevance of the issues depicted that give the book its power. Those 63 years, combined with Parks’ obvious empathy, provide layers that make this depiction of human suffering seem less aestheticised and more poignant.
Into the Fire documents the daily lives of the residents of Slab City, an off-the-grid squatter community in the Sonoran Desert in California. It’s an immersion into the heat, dust and flies of Slab City. It’s also a warm, open, spirited and non-judgmental look at this community of people who are living their lives as best they can.
Alison McCauley is a photographer whose work often explores the idea of identity, belonging and memory. She weaves her images together to create non-linear, intuitive narratives, often in the form of handmade books. Alison is a member of UP Photographers. She’s currently based in Geneva.
images: top - The Atmosphere of Crime, 1957 by Gordon Parks, below - Into The Fire by Matt Stuart.