Quite a robust year for books and though I did not see everything, I am quite happy with what I managed to catch. For the record, I am also citing monographs here. I am leaving out Chris Killip’s exception book edited by Ken Grant and Tracy Marshall-Grant as I think concentrating on books with a specific theme or drive is relevant here. Though I continue to dive heavily into historical books, I am happy to see the continued excellence in new publications. These are some things I liked. They should be seen as such, not as a definitive list. It is also not concise. There are going to be many other books mentioned on the expanded Nearest Truth List.
Death is not Here by Wouter Van de Voorde, Void
I am extremely biased on this. Wouter is a friend and I have had the pleasure of working with him. This book is on point. It shows the caliber of his practice aided by João Linneu’s exceptional design. The book explores fossils, family, and the hinterland of Canberra’s frontier by the Belgian artist. I had been waiting for this for some time. It did not disappoint
Some Say Ice by Alessandra Sanguinetti, Mack
An experience with a photobook called Wisconsin Death Trip by Michael Lesy on her mother’s bookshelf led the artist to re-examine the town of Black River Falls, Wisconsin and produce a book full of wonder filtered through a New Gothic tendency. A bastard child of Alec Soth’s Songbook and perhaps Tereza Zelenkova’s more recent work, the book ticks all the right boxes for the recovering Wisconsin photogoth.
Battered by Harri Pälviranta, Kult Books
An essential Finnish book of typological violence. The book reminds me of Jouko Lehtola a little bit in the way in which the portraits are produced. Though a sociological construct undergirds the positioning of the work, I think one can take it for what it is without the pretext that diminishes the spectacle of the photographs themselves.
Flint is Family in Three Acts by LaToya Ruby Frazier, Steidl
I find it odd that this book did not get more play throughout the year. Frazier’s work on Flint, Michigan is one of the more impressive and important tomes to come out this year. Socially concerned and intimate, the work and the book are an incredibly important reminder of the tragedy of Flint, but more importantly, the resilience of its people.
Pittsburgh Grease Plant, 1944/1946 by Gordon Parks, Steidl
This is one of my favorite titles by Parks. The abstraction of some of the images is oddly ahead of its time. Seeing the work prints in the book is incredibly important as is the focus on labor. Some of the images remind me of Owen Simmons 1903 Book of Bread, a photobook classic. Another important book in the never-ending back catalog of Parks’ genius.
H.R. Giger by Camille Vivier, Scheidegger Und Spiess Verlag
Vivier is one of my favorite discoveries over the past few years. Her work is a combination of fantasy, horror, and hot fashion images all chopped and cut and spit out with Motorhead speed and a penchant for smoke and mirrors. Giger was an early point of interest for me and seeing Vivier gain access to his home/studio/museum to photograph the dead artists effects and artwork as it lies in state is a dream project. I feel lucky to have this in my collection and to watch Vivier grow.
Mother of Dogs by Matthew Genitempo, Trespasser
I have been waiting for this title since I first saw it taking shape in 2020. Some of the work can be found in the Bleak House box set of zines that I put together with the publisher during the pandemic but seeing it as a single standalone volume has been a real pleasure. Executed with precision, MOD is a real gift to the photobook medium. Parts Gossage and Adams, Genitempo picks up with a new and elevated style since publishing Jasper a few years back. I hope you got one.
The Blindest Man by Emily Graham, Void
Excellent Void title and again showcases the publisher’s ability to find work that passes the bigger publishing houses by and develops it into something monolithic, cryptic, and sincere. The design is on fire with this title. The “braille” printing of some of the pages adds to the complexities of the story and Graham’s photographs surrender little but are cloaked in beauty. This is the type of book for book nerds who want to take time to holistically examine what a book could be.
A Pound of Pictures by Alec Soth, Mack
I see this as one of Soth’s finest titles. It is certainly my pick of his titles over the past decade or so and I will say that I think it rivals some of his best books. Clear-headed and melancholic, the book is a confirmation of Alec’s vision, but also proves that the artist’s catalog has psychologically loaded elements to it that have been under-pronounced until now. Simple and refined, the book is superb.
Macht Liebe by Anne Morgenstern, Hartmann
A strange ethereal world where the gloaming of the setting sun meets an interior world of toe-sucking and testosterone-driven tableaux. Bodies cavort, skin stretches, morphs, and evolves under Morgenstern’s watchful eye. Like a mad Nan Goldin faded and spying our irrational world through the veil of her previous addictions, Macht Liebe conditions the viewer to expect the unexpected. Nothing is fixed, everything is negotiable.
If I Call The Stones Blue It is Because Blue is the Precise Word by Joselito Verschaeve, Void
Another Belgian title that I have been waiting for that did not disappoint. Beautifully constructed images. Formal. Restless. I will say that I find the title erring towards the pretentious, but some people dig that. A really great work nonetheless from a young Belgian artist with plenty of promise.
Verdigris by Harold Strak, Van Zoetendaal
Unbelievably great use of printing in this book by Strak which works on the notion of fragments, detritus, and the overlooked to create a strange catalog of objects from our world placed against the backdrop of Amsterdam. If you have seen the XXX Stuff book from the publisher, this is an interesting conceptual follow up to that magical tome.
Road to Nowhere by Robin Graubard, Loose Joints
Robin Graubard was an unknown entity to me until seeing this book. The focus is on young people for the most part in Eastern Europe and the Balkans during the 90s. Graubard, an American living in Prague travelled the Post-Soviet Block and bore witness to several difficult topics such as the Siege of Sarajevo. Touching and muscular, the book does not drop care or concern for the bravado of war photography yet cements its place in that very territory.
Signs by the Roadside by Miro Kuzmanovic, self-published
An incredible investigation of the Bosnian war from the perspective of a Bosnian Serb who grew up between Austria and Bana Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina. More of an observation about, trauma, memory, and collective memorial, the book is the culmination of nearly 7 years of intense investigation and dummy making. Reminiscent of Gilles Peress, but from the point of post-event. No more a complicated topic exists than the Balkan wars of the 90s. Expertly handled work. Listed as 2021, released in 2022.
Satyricon & Munch by Morten Anderson, Munchmuseet
I am relatively new to Anderson’s work but had the pleasure to speak with him this summer and began picking up his book which I cherish. This new book combines my love of black metal with my love of photography. I can go either way with Munch if I am honest, but I love this documentation of the band Satyricon at work for their curatorial project that Morten was commissioned to make at the Munch Museet in Oslo. That cover!!!
Keepers of the Ocean by Inuuteq Storch, Disko Bay
Disko Bay continues to be one of the younger generation of publishers that I continue to gravitate towards. Mostly focused on Danish artists, the publisher has made it a priority to find young voices from the scene. Inuuteq hails from Greenland and the book is a beautiful look at his family, home, and friends. All color and strong flash, the images are very intimate and offers a new voice from a land covered in 85% ice.
Lux in Tenebris by Vincent Jendly, Images Vevey
Incredible printing and narrative. Jendly’s story about confronting his fear of drowning while aboard cargo container ships crossing wide swathes of open water is truly innovative and complex. I was lucky enough to see the exhibition a few years ago and was incredibly surprised at how well the book kept the tomb-like atmosphere of the exhibition…alive.
August by Collier Schorr, Mack
Continuing a slew of important books from the artist, MACK publishes the next and possibly final book in Collier’s imagined interpretation of post-war German identity mixed with her penchant for fashion and desire. This is a perfect companion to her book Neighbors. I find Schorr’s work intriguing, experimental, and brilliant. It feels like a reward to have this final title in the series
Frankfurt Copies by Daniel Poller, Spector Books
A complex look at the fragments of history with a schematic practice that looks at color, the culture of copies, war, and the building of something old anew. Poller’s book has brilliant conceptual underpinnings and is not to erudite to flex in places that it makes sense without losing the reader to oblique art for art’s sake references.
The Vulgarity of Being Three-Dimensional by Tine Bek, Disko Bay
Another great book from Disko Bay. Tine’s work might be considered something of a photographic baroque. Trying to avoid being to overly hasty in that assessment, the book concentrates on largely sculptural form and still life in color, but with a slight twist that many of the subjects are made of black material. There is something subtly unnerving about the images, but perhaps I just want to see it that way.
Self Portrait by Patrick Tsai, Dooks
One of the most more humorous books in the history of the photobook medium, Tsai’s portrait of himself at the cross-section of photography, film, and youtube makes his images come to life. I am reminded of Duane Michaels and Martin Parr at their most comedic. You get the sense of Tsai’s personality, but also his thoughts about Wes Anderson and how to handle dropping a deuce when trying to flee an apartment without raising the alarm to people you are best trying to avoid.
Baldwin Lee, Hunters Point Press
This book evaporated quicker than Liz Truss’s career. A beautiful study of the American South with a focus on African American communities from New Yorker Lee. I recently recorded with him, and the beauty of this book is in Lee’s intentions in making the work and his ending of it.
Small Myths by Mikiko Hara, Chose Commune
A beautiful re-examination of some of the artist’s work from the 90s with interviews speaking about the context of the work illuminating their ephemeral and fleeting nature. Highly developed style and a strong ability to look askance to find beauty, it was a joy to receive this book and let my eyes wander.
300m by Ben Brody, Mass Books
Ben Brody’s beautifully designed and produced book about Afghanistan and the Fall of Kabul through a panoramic format captures the atmosphere of the moment. You are forced to read the book as one long, nearly cinematic gesture. It is super strong and carries on Brody’s continued examination of America’s involvement the exporting war.
Marion by Christopher Anderson, Stanley Barker
Worth it for the nipple shot alone. The ultimate or penultimate book in Anderson’s family work. It has been a pleasure to see these books come out. Family photography at its finest.
Brad Feuerhelm. Nearest Truth Workshops and Podcast. American Suburb X director.
Death is not Here by Wouter Van de Voorde, Void
Small Myths by Mikiko Hara, Chose Commune