A pillar knocked into the ground next to a stream in a flat, open landscape, trees and houses visible in the distance, beneath a vast sky. That is the backdrop to all of Stephen Gill´s photographs in this book. We see the same landscape in spring and summer, in autumn and winter, we see it in sunshine and rain, in snow and wind. Yet there is not the slightest monotony about these pictures, for in almost every one there is a bird, and each of these birds opens up a unique moment in time. We see something that has never happened before and will never happen again. That it takes place in the midst of a landscape characterised by repetition, in which time is cyclical, sets up a keen existential dynamic: on the one hand, everything has happened before, there’s nothing new under the sun; on the other, every moment is unique and carries the hallmark of the miracle: what happens happens only once and never again.
But this wasn’t what I thought about the first time I looked at these photographs. In fact, I barely thought at all, for I was shaken, as a person so often is when confronted with an extraordinary work of art. I’d never seen birds in this way before, as if on their own terms, as independent creatures with independent lives. Ancient, forever improvising, endlessly embroiled with the forces of nature, and yet indulging too. And so infinitely alien to us.
- Karl Ove Knausgård
The Pillar / Winner of the 2019 Les Rencontres de la Photographie author book award.
‘Sleep Creek’ is a landscape filled with trauma and beauty. It’s a place where animals are only seen when they’re being hunted and humans balance between an unapologetic existence and an abyss of secrecy. These images manipulate a landscape that is simultaneously autobiographical, documentary, and fictional: a weaving of myth and symbol in order to be confronted with the experiential. Following the rituals of those within it, ‘Sleep Creek’ is an obsession between the subject and the photographer — a compulsion to reveal its shrouded Nature.”
Dylan and Paul have been working together since 2011 but they only started making ‘Sleep Creek’ in 2016, when they lived together in a cold house on Peaks Island, a small island only accessible by boat off of the coast of Maine. They gave themselves the boundary of the island as a perimeter to make photographs. It began as a traditional interest in place—a documentary of a piece of land and stories of its inhabitants, but as the work began to expand they let their thoughts cross-pollinate with those outside the island, namely their families and the lands that we were raised on.
“There’s something deeply personal about many of these images, but we hope that there is something more universal in the intensity of the characters and their interactions with the land.”
— Paul Guilmoth & Dylan Hausthor
‘Sleep Creek’ is entirely shot in New England, for the reason that this was the only region that the artists knew. Even though the place holds a strong regional identity, Paul and Dylan didn’t want the work to represent or speak to a regional identity but to use the region as a backdrop for more unhindered ideas of story, myth, and character.
That said, they do believe there is something specifically inspiring about the simultaneous history and youth of this part of America. In their own words: “Colonialism is apparent everywhere, every square foot of woods has been tainted by something human, and every pond is always covered with algae. There is anonymity in all of their characters, akin to the faceless identity of small-town New England”.
Even though ‘Sleep Creek’ blurs the borders of reality and fiction, the intention of the artists was never to confuse, but rather to build a place from the ground up, leaving little remnants of the place they initially set out to document. Their impulse to contort “place” had to do with the inevitable ways the exterior world affects one’s interior landscape and experience of it. There are no beginnings, middles, or ends in their experiences of the world, nor a hard line between the experienced and the directed.
After the loss of her mother the artist experiences the interruption of her own timeline on one end while having to fulfill her own role as a mother to the other end. In that end, motherhood in Dede’s universe is not connected only to warmth or joy but to cold, ice surfaces that need to stand the pressure of an overheated world.
‘Mayflies’ dramatises the creative process of mourning. Through multiple chirographic mutations of the imagery, the experience of loss in intertwined layers is represented throughout the work. Faces and bodies lingering in the shadows between conscious and subconscious in an attempt to let themselves be inert as Marcel Proust advices:
“When you are used to this horrible thing that they will forever be cast into the past, then you will gently feel her revive, returning to take her place, her entire place, beside you. At the present time, this is not yet possible. Let yourself be inert, wait till the incomprehensible power... that has broken you restores you a little, I say a little, for henceforth you will always keep something broken about you. Tell yourself this, too, for it is a kind of pleasure to know that you will never love less, that you will never be consoled, that you will constantly remember more and more.”
The photographs in Primal Mountain – a signature work of artist Yuji Hamada – appear at first glance to depict mountain sceneries. But looking closer, one realizes these are not a mountain in the literal sense; they are mountains composed of artificial materials near and dear to us. Hamada often handles the themes of “truth and falsehood,” together with “the seen and the unseen” in his works. One day, as he was coupling these motifs with experiences of the Great East Japan Earthquake disaster in 2011, Hamada received a postcard from a friend – a photograph of a mountain. Hamada found himself amazed by the beauty and the sense of falsehood present in the photo: and began to doubt that the mountains depicted there were even truly mountains at all – thus catalyzing his shooting process for Primal Mountain. What do mountains have that cause us, as human beings, to recognize them as such? The landscapes fabricated in his photographs convince our brains that the sights are those as found in nature – providing a pleasant, intriguing experience for the reader.
Primal Mountain makes use of double-leaved binding: the reverse side of each page depicts an enlarged shot of the picture on the front, allowing readers a view of the back-image by peeking through the side. The binding recreates mountains and valleys, with its construction simulating this motif of “the seen and the unseen” – as the reader flips through the pages, they gently sway in the realm between reality and fantasy. It causes one to question: what does it mean to see? Following the photographs is a text contributed by author Seigow Matsuoka, whose own work influenced Hamada's thought process on the subject matter.
‘This World and Others Like It’ investigates the role of the 21st century explorer by combining computer modeling with analogue photographic processes. Drawing upon the language of 19th Century survey images, Nikonowicz questions their relationship with current methods of record making. Thousands of explorable realities exist through rover and probe based imagery, virtual role-playing, and video game software. Within the contemporary wilderness, robots have replaced photographers as mediators producing images completely dislocated from human experience. This suggests that now the sublime landscape is only accessible through the boundaries of technology.
Recipient of the jurors’ special mention at the 2019 Paris Photo Aperture Foundation Photobook Award.
In Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road, his second book with The Ice Plant, Brooklyn-based photographer Tim Carpenter (born 1968) revisits the Central Illinois topography of his first monograph, Local Objects, with a sequence of 56 black-and-white medium-format photographs, all made on a single winter morning. In Local Objects he meandered this semi-rural Midwestern landscape through changing seasons in an abstract sequence, but here Carpenter follows a straightforward path, literally taking the viewer on a two-hour walk from point A to point B. Nothing much happens along this brief narrative arc—there are fallow fields, standing water, dormant trees, the occasional tire track on worn pavement—yet Carpenter explores the stillness of this outdoor space with a palpable, almost erotic anticipation, revealing intimate subtleties as the journey unfolds. Made with an intensity of attention and a lightness of touch, the photographs in Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road are less about the confines of this specific time and place than about a poetic strategy for narrowing the distance between human desire and the factual content of the everyday world. Recommended.
Conference of the Birds’ shows an outtake from an analysis of the correlation between time and place and of the historical Iranian landscape. How do places appear and disappear? How do we attach meaning to a certain site and in what way photography can deal with deconstructed icons in comparison to the (a-)historical palm tree sticking out its tongue?
A small desert village has been photographed obsessively and captured from every angle possible. Elements are positioned in the frame so that they are repeated in the next.
The photographs move in closely to the landscape of a palm tree village. The village is small and serene. Palm trees appear all over the place, they are burned, bend, dry and dead. They resemble pillars and artefacts that are left behind on various historical sites and they can be associated with land art installations.
“Ok, so The River’s Suck is this sort of Lynchian ‘Landscape Noir,’ where casual observations and broken thoughts, gathered during a walk along a local river fining down after an end-of-winter flood, have been re-imagined into a kind of ambiguous environmental parable. Some kind of cryptic allegory on the invisible liquid of life, oxygen, and it’s presence and flow through everything: water, air, land, bodies. A lead metaphorical role is played by the ubiquitous discarded plastic bottle; an organic looking item of litter that looks like a stranded fished that has drowned in air, its impermeable skin preventing any natural recycling and return to the landscape it had been floating through. It’s seeing the global or universal in the local and mundane. Images of the type of things that often subcontiously catch the eye are made obvious, made to detour the intellect and simply speak directly; thought triggers like lines of lyrics making a song.” - Mark Mattock
The River’s Suck is Mattock’s fourth self published work in his unique post pastoral visual language.
Created in the space of her personal garden in Washington DC, Terri Weifenbach’s photographs reveal the secret world of nature populated by birds that nest in urban gardens. Oscillating between fantasy and reality, her images seem to be taken on the sly when birds race at top speed, dance, or settle, freeze, and gather in parliaments. The seasons follow in succession, the colours of the garden vary. Saturated light and colour, plays on blurred and crystal-clear details, and freeze frames depict a “supra-reality”. Terri Weifenbach immerses us in the infinitely small, transporting us into a particularly lively and marvelous world.
This publication is part of the Des oiseaux (On birds) collection celebrating, through the vision of different artists, their immense presence in a world where they are now vulnerable. Accompanying these photographs, the ornithologist Guilhem Lesaffre writes a special essay. For this title, he sheds light on the adaptation of birds in urban environments.
Hexamiles (Mont-Voisin) has been published on the occasion of Batia Suter's exhibition at the Mauvoisin Dam in Switzerland (built 2,000 meters above sea level, it is the highest dam in Europe). For this artist book, Suter focused on her ever-expanding archive of scanned landscape images, which had already started to play an important role in Parallel Encyclopedia #2 (Roma 284, 2016). Many of those images depict wastelands, alternating between romantic and menacing views which simultaneously create sensations of majesty and disorientation. By layering them over each other, a variety of disparate geological and biological environments merge into composite landscapes we might only recognise from dreams and fairy tales. In the books sequence, a kind of adventurous journey takes shape, pitched between an odyssey, a safari and paradise. The books title is derived from the term Hexameter,a poetic form of writing used in Homer's Odyssey. Mont-Voisin, which also serves as the title for the exhibition, is inspired by different spellings used by 18th and 19th century travellers to describe Mauvoisin.
In Alan Huck’s image-text book, I walk toward the sun which is always going down, an unnamed narrator wanders a city in the American Southwest, where their observations and encounters become catalysts for rumination on a wide range of subjects. Shifting between photographs of the city’s peripheries and an interior monologue written in first-person, fragmentary prose, this hybrid essay draws on the ambulatory works of writers such as W.G. Sebald and Annie Dillard, both of whom are incorporated into the network of literary and cultural references interwoven throughout the book’s text. Part metafiction about the working process of a photographer and part cross-disciplinary exploration of one’s relationship to a particular place, the author utilizes the essential indeterminacy of both photography and written language to craft an exercise in attention that moves seamlessly between the two mediums.
Ricardo Cases’ third photobook deals with an unusual subject: a unique form of pigeon racing practised in the Spanish regions of Valencia and Murcia. Known as colombiculture, it is a sport with rules and referees. It consists of releasing one female pigeon and dozens of males. Painted in combinations of primary colours, reminiscent of flags or football kits, these pigeons chase the female to get her attention. None ever manage to get too intimate, and consequently the winner is the one that spends the most time close to her. The winner is not necessarily the most athletic, the toughest or the purest in breed but the most courteous, the one that shows most constancy and has the strongest reproductive instinct. This is the one that is seen by aficionados of the sport as the true embodiment of ‘macho’. The pigeon handler invests time, money and hope in his young pigeons. He raises them, gives them names, trains them and has faith in them. When competition day arrives he is full of childlike illusion and uncertainty. The price for young pigeons can reach thousands of euros and betting involves large amounts of money. The male pigeon becomes almost a projection of the pigeon-keeper himself, who embodies its sporting, economic and sexual success or failure in the community. Raising a male champion can bring both prestige and profit. Far from the harsh reality of his daily life, the colombaire has a second life where all is possible – he can reach the top. He just needs a champion pigeon.
In Paloma al Aire, Ricardo Cases explores the sport as a symbolic act, a projection and a way of relating to the world. It is an ethnographic documentation as groups of men run through the countryside behind their male pigeons, observing their mating performances, discussing the rules and the decisions. It could almost be a study of the rituals of a remote tribe or of a group of children who, in the process of discovering the world, invent a new game.
From 1970 Luigi Ghirri roamed around the houses, streets, squares and suburbs in his adoptive town of Modena and built a body of early work which contains within it signposts to many of the directions his practice would subsequently take. Most of the time he worked in Modena, only occasionally travelling further afield to the beaches of Rimini on the Adriatic or the Swiss Lakes. He began to map out projects and themes – some specifically grouped around a subject, others gathered around a more poetic organising principle. One of the latter was Colazione sull’Erba (Breakfast on the Grass) in which he bought together photographs made between 1972 and 1974 on the outskirts of Modena which he states he “visited in an ironic and anxious manner”. His focus was the juncture of nature and artifice in the man-made environment; the symmetries of cypress trees, well-kept lawns, the personalising touch of plants in pots, palm trees and cacti with their promise of somewhere else.
Modeled on Kodachrome, Ghirri’s seminal paean to photography which he self-published in 1978, this volume is the first book in a planned series which will take Ghirri’s original categories for his own work as the basis for a collection elaborating the great photographer’s oeuvre.
Includes original texts by Massimo Mussini and Roberto Salbitani with a contemporary essay by Francesco Zanot All texts in English, Italian, French and German.
In this dark and beautiful book, Takashi Homma traces the blood trails of deers killed in Shiretoko National Park on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. Like ritualistic stains or calligraphic compositions, the photographs, which Homma made in the winters of 2009 to 2018, are at once abstract and symbolic. Considered by some to be sacred, deers in Japan have controversially faced culls due to growing populations, which upset agricultural communities struggling to protect their crops. To aid their mission in reducing numbers, the government encourages local hunters to take matters into their own hands. Homma photographs the effects – the red vestiges of wild life in the snow.
The book is an album that shows two different ways to interpret the photographic media. One as dramatic and Romantic (Valentino Barachini), the other as the search of beauty and graphic virtuosity (Cristiano Guerri). These two visions dialogue without words, then transforming each photo into a poster: the photobook, indeed, is specially not bound.
Half traveler and half migratory photographer, as he likes to introduce himself, Bernard Plossu strides along the world since many years. He captures through his lens furtive moments, where birds are flying in huge swarms or caught alone, standing proudly in the middle of a puddle, or gliding high up in the sky, among the peaks. The photographer looks at birds with tenderness and curiosity, a gaze which underlines fantasy and a “surrealistic” approach, as explains the critic Francesco Zanot about his images.
The flight fascinates the photographer, obsessed with the euphoric speed of swallows as well as the hypnotic inertness of large raptors drifting through the wind at high altitude. Plossu’s photographs allow us to see fragments of the world, a world in which birds have reinvested our environment.
The essay by ornithologist Guilhem Lesaffre underlines a fundamental aspect of bird life: migration as brought by Plossu’s photographs to light.
Over the course of multiple summers, Raymond Meeks has ventured the few miles from his rural home in the Catskill Mountain region of New York, to a single-lane bridge spanning the tributaries of Bowery and Catskill Creeks. Beneath the bridge, a waterfall drops sixty-feet over moss-covered limestone toward a forbidding pond. The local youth have come here from time immemorial, congregating near outcroppings and around a concrete altar – a remnant of an earlier stone bridge. Most allow themselves a brief running start before launching their pale bodies into the void, where tentative suggestions of flight mark the response to gravity. Taken collectively, their gestures allude to ritual, a prayerful response to the exigencies of budding sexuality and a future rife with uncertainty. Halfstory Halflife is a distillation of the photographs made in the shadows of these falls, marked each summer by the emergence of young adults perched at a precipice both in space and in their lives.
In March 2014, my family and I moved from east London to rural south Sweden where my partner Lena is from. I understood that these new surroundings would inform my work in very different ways and that nature would play a key role. I was looking forward to making work that did not feel restricted and suffocated by modern photographic technology nor would make an inaccurate projected impression of the natural landscape we had become part of.
On my many walks, I soon came to realise that this new, apparently bleak, flat and open landscape was in fact teeming with intense life. Small clues appeared during daylight hours that helped me understand the extent of activity during the night. Clusters of feathers, animal footprints of all sizes showing regular overlapping routes, gnawed branches, eggshells, ant hills, nibbled mushrooms and busy snails and slugs working through the feast provided from the previous night
I started to imagine the creatures in absolute darkness on the forest floor driven by instincts and their will to survive. I imagined them encountering each other. I thought of their eyes – near redundant in the thick of the night – and their sense of smell and hearing finely tuned and heightened.
Envisaging where this activity might unfold, coupled with a hopeful foresight, I placed cameras equipped with motion sensors, to trees, mostly at a low level, so that any movement triggered the camera shutter and an infra-red flash (which was outside the animals’ visual spectrum).
The first results filled me with fascination and joy as they presented what felt like stepping off into another parallel and unearthly world. The silent photographs also seemed to invent sounds. This frame of mind and way of working took me back to my first ever photo project at the age of 13, sitting in the bathroom window of my parents’ house in Bristol with a 10-metre cable release, attached to the camera, attempting to photograph garden birds.
As time went on I started to think, if I were a deer where would I drink from, or if an owl where would I prefer to perch, and positioned cameras in such places. I was already composing the rectangular view in my mind’s eye – even though the nocturnal animals were absent – imagining they were there. Nature itself helped to decide the palette and the feel of the images as plant pigments were incorporated from the surrounding areas to make the final master prints.
I had grappled for many years with this idea of stepping back as the author of images to give space for chance and to encourage the subject to step forward. I had attempted this in various ways; for example, in 2005, by burying colour prints close to where they were made, as a collaboration, to entice the place itself to leave its physical mark on the images once they had been unearthed. Or, between 2009 - 2013, in the series Talking to Ants, I placed objects such as plant life, insects, seeds and dust from the place I was photographing inside the film chamber to create in-camera photograms creating a confusion of scale. Or, in 2012, in Best Before End, as a photographic response to the rise of high-energy drinks, I used the drinks themselves to part-process the film as they ate into the emulsion. These approaches added an element of uncertainty, without knowing exactly where the images would land, and relied on a point where intentions met chance with the hope that the subject itself could play a part, lead the way or become embedded in the finished images.
This time, though, it felt as if I was stepping out altogether, so that the subjects would orchestrate and perform and take on the role of author while at that moment I was likely to be sleeping. This was nature’s time to speak and let itself be felt and known.
And Time Foldsaccompanies a retrospective exhibition of the British photographer Vanessa Winship at the Barbican Art Gallery, London. At once intimate and epic, Winship’s black-and-white photographs explore notions of borders, land, memory, desire and history. This volume comprises photographs from seven series, including projects made during a decade living in the region of the Balkans, Turkey and the Caucasus; as well as work made in Georgia, America and the U.K. Winship has long been concerned with the elusive nature of transience in our landscape and society, and her oeuvre moves sure-footedly between genres – reportage, documentary, portraiture and landscape. Alongside her luminous photographs, And Time Folds brings together personal archival material that reveals Winship's thought process, working methods, and the importance of the written word, as well as an extensive essay by the renowned photography historian David Chandler, proffering a multi-faceted view of her work and artistic trajectory.
“Spending long periods of time in solitude in remote landscapes, Awoiska van der Molen slowly uncovers the identity of the place, allowing it to impress upon her its specific emotional and physical qualities. Using her personal experience within the landscape for her creative process, she instinctively searches for a state of being in which the boundary between herself and her surroundings blur”. — Anna Dannemann, The Photographers’ Gallery | Deutsche Borse Photography Foundation Prize 2017. ‘Blanco’ is Awoiska’s second publication, following the much celebrated Sequester.
In the first instance, ‘Body of Work’ is about the orchestrated process of horse breeding. But, as I wriggled through the months of scrutiny, amidst the rawness of procreation, I became aware of a common anomaly in the mares being served. I came to recognise, in one mare after another, an anthropomorphic capacity to reflect. Through mournful eyes, they would make known an understanding of their peculiar predicament.
Includes 48 black and white and full color plates printed with UV inks on uncoated paper. Leporello binding with multiple panel widths and stiff front and back covers. Spine closure printed on synthetic paper with an essay by Mark Alice Durant.
With the spine detached from the front cover, the book becomes an installation piece approximately 34 feet in length.
"No longer serviced by the ferries, the comings and goings of people will cease. But even as the islands are forgotten, the evocations of those who were once there will surely endure. At the seaside ablaze with flowers in bloom, children play in circles and lovers hold hands, whispering to one another. The sailor of a sunken ship despairs, while a wounded soldier wanders the beach crying out his mother’s name, uniform flapping in the breeze. I too will continue to tell these stories. Cocking an ear to the breath of history, I will continue to spin forth these images. " from Yasuhiro Ogawa's introduction.
"Los Angeles is a centrifugal city, fundamentally American in its tendency toward the periphery. Isolated Houses focuses on the urban sprawl's outer frontier. Here, 150 miles outside the city, the built environment comprises a handful of rudimentary structures, isolated cubes at the edge of the infinite plane of the desert. The dwellings that dot the landscape seem temporary and toylike, but are the center of these photographs, the reason for their being."
Stephen Gill's photographs are devoid of sentiment or affectation – rather than showing the pigeon in our world, they take us into theirs. The lens noses in under bridges, squeezes through cracks and scopes out crannies. These are images that bestow on the despised flying rats that oft-trumpeted but seldom realised attribution: their dignity. Here are pigeons making their lives in a natural landscape, for whatever else humans may be, we are animals too, and as such our buildings are analogous to the earthworks of termites, and our bridges to the dams of beavers.
It's this inversion of the anthropocentric view that makes Gill's images so compelling. That, and another revelation – for fluffed-up and blinking in the dust and the grime and the rust and rime, we see those mythical beings: the young pigeons. I suspect it's because we've entered this otherworldly realm that we find these juveniles to be arousing not of pity, but a grudging respect. Far from being scroungers or undeserving poor, these doughty birds survive and even thrive despite barbs and more barbs of outrageous human fortune. They are, like the urban foxes, the economic migrants of the animal world – forced into the cities to scratch a living as best they may – and before we condemn them, we would do well to ask ourselves this question: would we do as well were the tables to be turned?
- Will Self
Clothbound hardback with silkscreen printed cover.
The Widest Prairies’ features a new series by Charlotte Dumas on the wild horses of Nevada, showing a cinematographic portrayal of these undomesticated animals as they roam the fringes of the foothills into the residential areas of the desert population where peoples and animals paths cross.
This proximity has created new interactions between man and animal and has changed perceptions of the wild horses. They’ve become a strong topic of discussion as their situation becomes more dire due to draught and the economical climate yet seem to prevail in the ever changing landscape.
Following up his richly emotive debut collection, Ray Meeks expands the range of his vision with equally stunning technique, suggesting visual rhymes between the sentient and the inanimate, between stratigraphic lines and telephone wires, between a bulldozer's tread marks and a boy's ribcage. Whereas his earlier book, The Sound of Summer Running, invited us inward, into the expressive interiors of family and place, a Clearing presents us with a world that averts its face, a world we haven't yet learned to read, where meaning still seems to be gathering itself, where verticality is a sign of defiance. Figures in the landscape appear so isolated, they take on mythic force. The sky is resistant as eyes turned back in a head. Meeks's camera records the naked geological and human assertion of presence against the flattening insistence of time, erosion, and poverty. In a Clearing, the world speaks itself in a language of origins: stone and child and woman and man cry out from elemental silence, Look, I am here.
"17 Days," openly suggests synchronicity: Events, large, small and everything in between, happen globally and simultaneously. The book does just that by documenting, in words and pictures, the hatching of four robins and their magical insouciance during 17 days in the middle of a year on the photographer's front porch.
Hackney Wick sits in east London between the Grand Union Canal, the River Lea and the Eastway A106. Stephen Gill first came across the area at the end of 2002 when he was photographing the back of advertising billboards. His first visit was on a Sunday, to the vast market that used to take place in the old greyhound/speedway stadium. At first glance, apart from few pot plants, most of the items on sale looked like scrap, exhausted white goods, mountains of washing machines and fridges, copper wire and other metals stripped from derelict buildings, piles of old VHS videos. Stephen bought a plastic camera for 50p. It had a plastic lens and no focus or exposure controls, and he started making pictures with it at once. Over the next two years he visited Hackney Wick again and again. The market closed in July 2003, and the remains of the old stadium were demolished weeks later as part of the preparations for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Pristine sealed copy.
A selection of photobooks by American photographers, alongside a number of titles focusing on the United States. Image: Mark Steinmetz - South East