Photobooks of 2021: Gabriela Cendoya


2021 has been another weird and tough year, and I definitely had to buy less books. Still I find it hard to do a short list, so here are some of the dearest ones. 

The Stick by Justine Kurland, TIS Books

The complex relationship between a father and a daughter, an extraordinary post mortem dialogue by Justine Kurland with her father’s paintings and drawings. The result is a rich, strange, surreal, raw and dreamlike book, both intimate and enigmatic. An unsettling and beautiful book. 

Once in a corner by Kazuyuki Yamada, Bromide 

A discovery for me, thanks to a good friend. Once in a corner is an incredible mix of artificially aged paper, photographs and drawing and painting, a sensitive collage about the passing of time and the memories that are left. The tactile object is gorgeous, the images are a blurred mirror of the mess of our time. Edition of 25 handmade books beautifully presented in a cardboard box. 

Parenthesis by Antonio Jiménez Saiz, self published 

Antonio is a Spanish author living in Brussels. 2021 seems like a long and dramatic parenthesis, and maybe the feeling is here to stay. The crack is everywhere around us, let us hope we find strength in ourselves to get over it. I feel strongly connected with Antonio’s melancholic yet poetic vision of the world. 

Agata by Bieke Depoorter, Self published

A book about identity and representation, Agata is dense, rich and complex, both a dialogue and a struggle for power and control about authorship.With a very clever design, with hidden pages and multiple narratives, the two voices of Agata and Bieke raise questions and manage to create an unsettling and extraordinary work. 

Somersault by Raymond Meeks, Mack

Another gem by Meeks, beautifully rendered by Mack. This work from 2011, previously self published in a small handmade edition, is about time and home. Time is passing and turning into memories, and home is being left by his daughter Abbey. So there is the loss, and the pain that goes with it, yet the light is beautiful and soft in the landscape, in the portraits and the everyday places were the author lives. Somersault is about accepting the longing and the frailty in our lives and the places we inhabit without loosing our love. 

The Kent Variant by David O’Mara, self published 

Unique, handmade book, made during the pandemia by David specially for the collection, with papers he found on the street and his own silver gelatine prints, one of the most precious book I have. 

Whatever you say, say nothing by Gilles Peress, Steidl 

40 years after the Irish events, Steidl publishes the extraordinary work by Gilles Peress, an historical document for today and the future. A must. 

Five Dollars for 3 minutes by Cammie Toloui, Void 

Cammie was a student in photography in San Francisco in the early 90’s and she worked at the Lusty Lady strip show to pay her rent. She managed to turn the camera to face men’s sexual fantasies. Male’s egos have seldom being portrayed the way she does it in this book. In a time when male gaze is still very much the norm despite the changes due to all feminist movements, her book is fresh and powerful. 

Leaving and Waving by Deanna Dikeman, Chose Commune 

A touching book, yet so simple. Life is made of little things, everyday moments, until the loved ones are not here anymore with you to be in the picture. 

Plaketak by Aitziber Orkolaga, self-published 

Aitziber is a young photographer from Donostia, in the Basque Country. Plaketak is her first book, a mourning from her father’s passing. A moving and beautiful leporello, with a handmade cover, each book is unique. 

Memoria Natura Morte by Valentino Barachini, Origini edizioni 

In 20 copies only, Valentino’s fabulous declination on life and death inspired by the work of Aby Warburg. Absolutely exquisite. 


Gabriela Cendoya, spanish photo book collector. Her books are deposited in the library of Museo San Telmo in San Sebastian/Donostia, where the whole collection of nearly 3000 books can be consulted for free. She runs a blog at 

Leaving and Waving by Deanna Dikeman, Chose Commune 
The Stick by Justine Kurland, TIS Books 
Somersault by Raymond Meeks, Mack

Justine Kurland

Somersault by Raymond Meeks, Mack