It is a great honour to once again be invited to contribute a list to Photobook Store's annual roundup. As has become my personal preference, the books are listed in the order in which I acquired them.
Stop Tanks with Books by Mark Neville, Nazraeli
Neville’s ongoing study of both the landscape and people of Ukraine has turned into an abject political rallying call for support with the onset of the 2022 Russian invasion of the country. I sometimes have issues with publications that appear to jump on subjects as raw as this one. However, the fact that Neville had moved to Ukraine some time before the war began and had been photographing both the country and it’s people for the best part of a decade, meant that in this instance I had no hesitation.
My Husband by Tokuko Ushioda, Torch Press
Ushioda is a wonderful archivist of emotional minutiae. Not hugely known outside of her native Japan, I first got to know about her through her book Bibliotheca, but this new set which captures fragments of family life is a reminder that small moments very often resonate and linger with as much impact as those more monumental ones.
Apeiron by Dimitra Dede, Origini Edizioni
Dede's gorgeous project, produced in conjunction with Italian imprint Origini Edizioni, reflects on Greek philosophy and in particular, Anaximander's Aperion, a concept in which the great mind contemplated the beginning of everything. Book, art object, sculpture? Aperion effortlessly occupies each category. Sublime.
Studio Photo Nationale by Samuel Fosso, Sébastien Girard/MEP
This archive was nearly lost forever when Fosso's studio in the Central African Republic was attacked and looted in 2014. Rescued by journalists Jerome Delay and Marcus Bleasdale, it remained sealed in steel trunks until 2021 when Sebastien Girard was able to gain access to it and produce this stunning tribute to the early work of one of Africa’s finest photographers.
Extraordinary Experiences by Morganna Magee, Tall Poppy
Ethereal, metaphysical and a breathtaking example of visual poetry. Inspired by the effects of the Covid lockdown, this is equal parts celebration, eulogy and philosophical longing. An absolutely stunning debut.
River’s Dream by Curran Hatleberg, TBW
This show stopping study of contemporary living in rural America runs the gamut from bucolic to surreal. Such was the buzz surrounding it, that the initial 1000 copy first edition was pretty much pre-sold. Thankfully a second print quickly followed and is (unsurprisingly) highly recommended.
Cue the Sun by Trent Parke, Stanley Barker
Taken in 2020 a week before lockdown was enforced and captured from the windows of speeding vehicles as Parke raced across India, Cue The Sun is a colour rich assault on the senses. The sequence is reproduced as a single sheet concertia, with one side featuring images shot during those frenetic days and the other through the nights. A fabulous production from Stanley Barker.
Being There by Jo Ratcliffe, Stevenson
South African photographer Ratcliffe has created a dialogue constructed from a simple premise using images captured whilst watching her television. As the artist explains, these are not screen grabs, but photographs taken by a camera set up in front of a screen. A reaction to the confinement and travel restrictions imposed by lockdown.
Empty Forest by Nanouk Prins, Self
I have no idea how I missed this upon release, but I am treating this as my "allowed" title not published in 2022. Empty Forest is the tragic tale of Emma Hauck, a young mother committed to a psychiatric hospital in 1909. After her death in the institution eleven years later, a series of letters were discovered, each one an impassioned plea to her husband for him to bring her home. Letters that were never sent. Prins' photography sensitively evokes moods that encompass the isolation and fear that Hauck will undoubtedly have endured. As I said in my review, "...a wonderful example of an original and heartbreakingly human story. A sublime but so very sad song,"
Aging by Hiromi Tsuchida, Fugensha
Thousands of tiny self portraits printed chronologically with their corresponding dates on the opposing pages. No more, no less. In Aging, Tsuchida contemplates the passing of time, using his own image as its marker. Sobering for some, undoubtedly bemusing to others. Personally speaking, a book I am sure to return to more frequently as the clock continues to tick.
Mother of Dogs by Matthew Genitempo, Trespasser
Genitempo's evening walks are full of beautiful moments and fragmented portraits. Another breathtaking release from the artist's own Trespasser imprint. The photography is as flawless as we have come to expect, but with regard to the book itself, the printing and hand finished details - it’s unbound pages are fastened with a simple brown kraft tape - are what elevate this gem to new levels of considered greatness and modest perfection.
Closed by Martin Amis, Photo Editions
Current, relevant and beautifully photographed. These desolate images of closed shops and restaurants maybe confined to one small area of southern England, but Amis’ book will undoubtedly strike a chord with communities in countries the world over. A beautifully considered book.
This year’s special mention is Tom Lecky. Last year I included Tom’s “The Archive of Bernard Taylor” on my main list. However, I just wanted to draw attention to his quiet more artisan titles which are published through his Understory imprint. Home, Agloe and this year’s recently released Concord are all exquisite takes on life’s small moments. Technically perfect images expertly edited and sequenced to produce gentle wordless sun drenched narratives.
Robin Titchener is a photobook collector. He also runs his own review site and has contributed to numerous international publications, online photography platforms and magazines.
Cue The Sun by Trent Parke, Stanley Barker
My Husband by Tokuko Ushioda, Torch Press