Photobooks of 2020: Awoiska van der Molen

Watering My Horse by a Spring at the Foot of the Long Wall by Xiao Xiao Xu

Constructed Landscapes by Dafna Talmor, Fw:books

Sienna is an earth pigment containing iron oxide and manganese oxide. In its natural state, it is yellowish brown and is called raw sienna. When heated, it becomes a reddish brown and is called burnt sienna. Along with ochre and umber, it was one of the first pigments to be used by humans, and is found in many cave paintings.

When colour negatives have been cut and these pieces are then c-type printed, most of the cutted edges of the negative turn into this burnt sienna red. Talmor constructs her own landscapes from multiple spliced negatives and the red edges are like veins of the earth. 

Each image is a monumental, almost primordial piece that I envy as an image maker. All this comes in a superbly designed sturdy book done by Hans Gremmen.


Ghost Witness by Mårten Lange, Loose Joints Publishing

Lange made this new body of work in several fast growing Chinese metropolises. Surrounded by the consequences of this new and drastic urban reality, Lange manages to find genius Loci. Ancient Chinese souls sojourning in grids and fresh concrete.

An Educational Archive of 3135 Slides by Frido Troost, APE

Frido Troost (1960-2013) was the sort of teacher that did not fit this title. He was the liveliest, most confronting, eye-opening speaker and inspirer that each art student should have had. These precious people always seem to die too young.
Troost was a pioneer in collecting photography of all sorts that he presented in his store ‘Institute for Concrete Matter’. This publication is composed of all the slides he used for his classes at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, but also for guest teaching elsewhere in the Netherlands. His narations with the images awoke also us students at Minerva Academy in the north of Holland.

Shikawatari by Chieko Shiraishi, Sokyusha

In the remote North of Japan Chieko Shiraishi moved through a snow covered land while being unexpectedly guided by a herd of deer. Not often do I see a body of work where wide nature, wild animals and a tiny human soul seem to be so united. Shiraishi's images transcend the traditional photographic language of nature and its majesty, instead taking us with her, in there. 

The images are printed on matte paper, as noise reducing as the snow can be. The thin black negative borders reveal the dark room printer that Shiraishi is.

Ciprian Honey Cathedral by Raymond Meeks, Mack

Breathlessly gazing at the muze and feeling the artist presence. From all the special publications that Meeks made in the past years, here all the different ingredients come together. Pure poetry landed on solid ground.

Watering My Horse by a Spring at the Foot of the Long Wall by Xiao Xiao Xu, Eriskay Connection

Another book by Xiao Xiao Xu that shows us China behind the scenes (in 2016 she made ‘Aeronautics in the backyard’ on Chinese farmers building their own aircrafts).  This time she travelled along the foot of the Great Wall of China, a road trip of 25,000 km to understand -by getting close to the people living there- the impact of fast growing China on this historic site.

Summer Sublet by Ward Long, Deadbeat Club

Praise for the open and sensitive eyes of Long which resulted in receiving the full trust of his four female housemates…..and this wonderful book.

The Locusts by Jesse Lenz, Charcoal Press

Last but not least. In this weirdest year I found solace in this black and white children’s universe. Flesh, breathing, falling, living, heaven, blood, death in this safe secluded environment. And the rest of the outside world goes mad.


Awoiska van der Molen is a photographer based in Amsterdam. Her monographs  Sequester (2014) Blanco (2017) and The Living Mountain (2020) are designed and published by Hans Gremmen, Fw:Books.

Images top:  Watering My Horse by a Spring at the Foot of the Long Wall by Xiao Xiao Xu, below - An Educational Archive of 3135 Slides by Frido Troost

An Educational Archive of 3135 Slides by Frido Troost