Photobooks of 2021: Myrto Steirou

 Richard Rothman

Around this time every year, as best books of the year lists begin to appear on my feed, I’m not just overwhelmed at the amount of books that are out there; but also with the sheer amount I didn’t even know existed. Living in Athens, a city which didn’t have an art-bookshop until recently, sometimes leaves me feeling culturally thirsty. Browsing and buying books online is one thing but visiting fairs is really the main time for me to look at new books and understand how they are in real life compared to the virtual world.

As a publisher it is almost impossible to look at books without asking questions such as “Is this something I would publish?” or “Would I approach this book differently?”. There are many projects I see printed that I would really love to have published and there are also books that I respect for how well they came together, without loving the work.

But it is not very often that I come across a book and think “This is perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing”. In these rare moments my selfish part (that of the publisher) becomes very jealous that I didn't have the chance to publish it, whilst a more elevated part (maybe the one that feels passionately about photography) simply admires the efforts of the artist and the publisher who have worked together to create something so harmonious.

Below are listed the books which inspired such feelings for me this year, whilst also acknowledging, of course, that there are others that I simply haven’t had the chance to discover yet.

Mère by Julie Scheurweghs, Kult

Simple and elegant, this book just feels so nice to hold in your hands and the close up portraits of Julie repeating throughout, indefinitely in between pain and pleasure make it almost impossible to put down. There is no surprise element in his book but the repetition is almost mesmerizing, as you have to know how this ends. For me the choice of the last image is also really exceptional.

Unprofessional by Matilde Søes Rasmussen, Disko Bay

Disturbing, honest, grotesque and raw, both the images and texts in this book describe her struggles in the modelling industry so vividly that it feels like you can touch every surface and smell each smell portrayed in it. Very cruel but poetic in a way that I really appreciate.

I can’t stand to see you cry by Rahim Fortune, Loose Joints

This is a book that I believe will appear in a lot of lists, and with good reason. A very moving project with gorgeous photos and the Loose Joints touch are a killer combination

At Night Gardens Grow by Paul Guilmoth, Stanley Barker

For obvious reasons this is a book we would really like to have published. The work of Paul is so strong that I am pretty sure I would include any of his work in every list. A different approach to his universe than the one we had with Sleep Creek but one which I really admire.

Replica by Rita Lino, Art Paper Editions

An example of a great use of text together with images. I love the openness of the work and book in general. A great detail is the use of different paper stocks, very subtle but which really makes a difference to the book.

The Hero Mother by Peter Puklus, Witty

The idea of the project alone is very interesting but I mostly love the playfulness with which the book was done

Leaving and Waving by Deanna Dikeman, Chose Commune

The name of this project and the artist was written in our "Projects we love list”. Before bringing it to discussion with my partner, Chose Commune did this great book! Damn.

Encampment, Wyoming, Selections from the Lora Webb Nichols Archive, 1899-1948, FW: Books

Will we ever get bored of archival photos? When I see books like this I believe we will not.

Town of C by Richard Rothman, Stanley Barker

My classical side really liked this book. Weird interiors, people and landscapes create a portrait of a town that I would feel scared to visit.

And some bonus books: Transcendence by Mikko Kerttula, This Land by Martin Amis, The Stick by Justine Kurland, Bruce Kurland with poems by Lisa Jarnot,  And In Its Place, Another by Kovi Konowiecki.

Greek-born, based in Athens, Myrto Steirou (1989) graduated in International Relations and holds an MSc in Middle East Politics from School of Oriental and African Studies. From 2013–2016, to continue her research on Turkish Politics using photography, she attended a series of photography courses and seminars in Athens and Paris. She has worked on her personal photography projects and as a freelance photographer in different fields such as theater, news, and fashion. In 2016, she co-founded Void where she acts as an editor and project manager. In 2019 she also co-founded Carnivora, an imprint that specializes in Hispanic noir literature.

Town of C by Richard Rothman, Stanley Barker
I can’t stand to see you cry by Rahim Fortune, Loose Joints

I can’t stand to see you cry by Rahim Fortune, Loose Joints