Photobooks of 2022: Terri Weifenbach

Judith Joy Ross

There are so many books it is quite a humbling experience to attempt to single them out. There is no way, given the volume of books to see them all. There are also books I saw a glimpse of, or sat down with for a moment but could not find available copies to spend time with. That said, the choices below are not secondary, there just would have been more on the list. I’ve chosen based on personal criteria: images first. Always. And I’ve also given myself some free rein here to choose catalogs, because, for me, it’s about the photographs and they need to be seen.

Correspondence by Hajime Kimura, The(m) Editions / IBASHO

An understated grey board belies the complexity inside. The images are exquisite, like charcoal drawings, the delicate ‘hand written’ text of archeological information and accompanying outlines seem fragile. All images are either found objects or the scene where the objects were found in the Torres Vedras area of  Portugal. One must open a folded page to see the images. It is an action of discovery like a dig with the same caution of delicacy and reveal. The book is whole. There is no flipping through. You must be committed as it requires time to reveal the hidden interior. And there is a reward, the images are treasures.

yYY by Yelena Yemchuk, Départ Pour L’Image

I’m truly happy to see this publisher again, introducing a photographer I did not know.  The sequencing is complex, with unique and powerful drawings and photographs that could feel unrelated, but they are sequenced with a sharp emotional understanding and openness eliciting a cacophonous, unsettled experience. It holds, starting at chapter three and moving though to chapter one for the end of the book. I personally don’t like photobooks with tricks, that err to novelty design. In yYY however all this is utilised with purpose and looking through it feels whole… a trick is only a trick if it does not smoothly flow within the circumstance of the object. There is a lot to this book physically and emotionally. It plays on a knife edge of falling apart, but never does, a lot like life.

M/E. On this sphere Endlessly Interlinking by Rinko Kawauchi, Asahi Shimbun

This is an exhibition catalog for a retrospective of Rinko Kawauchi’s past decade of work.  Each body of work is separated by page size or paper type or image size and there is also an inclusion of video works, represented with carefully chosen stills from each video. As a result M/E loses the dividing lines described by the covers of Rinko’s books; The sum is a view of continuity of work that has remained true. Her work is quiet, it is not calm. Joy and grieving are inextricable partners. The different bodies of work have different emphasises and reasons for being, but all together they are a decisive body of lifework. It is a painters sensibility to have a continuous line of inquiry. Rinko’s insistent work shows this is a photographers sensibility too.

Boundary Hunt by Toshio Shibata, Poursuite

I’ve followed Shibata since 1999 after his book Landscape was published by Nazraeli Press. I was first compelled by his photographs of concrete structures because, like a Rodin sculpture, they are pressured by unseen, interior forces.  Shibata’s highly organised large format vision has been broken down in Boundary Hunt with the use of Polaroid type 55 film. His usual honour of the subject almost eclipsed by his tonal deference to the abstract. Here he is engaged with the surface of the photograph, even the edges of the film, rather than the subject. He is even playful.

Judith Joy Ross, Aperture

I am exalted to see Judith Joy Ross photographs moving around the world. This is a lifetime of image making. I’m choosing Judith’s catalog for her images. It is deep set within me that as many people as possible should experience her work and this catalog includes a satisfying number of her images. It will slow you down, you meet the portraits individually. It is an intimate experience and maybe, given the magnitude of vulnerability present, an impossible task to see in one sitting. But not all the portraits show the vulnerable. These are not one note. There is no mistaking her understanding of the human face and all it contains. She does not impose, she lets these faces, images, be as they are.

Ikonar by Josef Koudelka, Photo Elysée/Spector Books

A nuanced and informative look into Koudelka’s life, practice and process. I chose this catalog (again a catalog!) because it shows so many aspects; what utter commitment looks like; making photographs as a life, how Koudelka made his decisions. Ikonar is a breakdown of Josef’s systems of working. If I was still teaching photography I’d make this a required book because it shows how important big and small decisions are and how life events can be interwoven into the fabric of making work and vice versa. 

(Full transparency: my partner wrote one of the texts. I can’t tell you if this has changed my view as I have no way of subtracting the fact. What I do know is I would have this book as a required text……)

Bookmaking is central to Terri Weifenbach’s artistic practice. Since her first book, In Your Dreams, was published in 1997 she has authored twenty more titles including the most recent, Cloud Physics. In Your Dreams was included in The Photobook: A History Volume II by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger. She has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Europe and Japan and published widely in periodicals such as Audubon, Union Magazine and IMA Magazine. Terri’s first solo museum show took place in 2017 at Izu Photo Museum in Clematis no Oka, Japan. Born in NYC, raised in Washington, DC and educated at the University of Maryland, Terri Weifenbach spent a dozen years from her twenties living in New Mexico and California. She now resides in Paris, France. She is a Guggenheim Fellow having received the distinction in 2015.

Judith Joy Ross, Aperture
Ikonar by Josef Koudelka, Photo Elysée/Spector Books

Ikonar by Josef Koudelka