zondag 9 december 2018

Views & Reviews Berlin-Kreuzberg Stadtbilder Michael Schmidt Photography


Publica (1984)
Gravity’s Rainbow
Kolja Reichert remembers the late photographer Michael Schmidt and his pictures of a Berlin that most others overlooked

ohne Titel, aus der Serie Berlin Stadtbilder, 1976–77, Silbergelatinedruck; all images courtesy: © Stiftung für Fotografie und Medienkunst mit Archiv Michael Schmidt & Galerie Nordenhake Berlin / Stockholm

I’ve just taken Michael Schmidt’s book Berlin nach 1945 (Berlin After 1945, 2005) off the shelf. The book contains the photographs he took in 1980 in the neighbourhood between Mehringplatz and the Wall. Glancing up from its pages, I look out the window of my high-rise apartment onto the same neighbourhood, 34 years later. The photos in the book show the entrance to an underground garage; in the background, the vacant lot not yet occupied by Daniel Libeskind’s new Jewish Museum; the raised parking space across the road, empty except for a single car under a plastic cover; the facade of Anhalter Bahnhof, once Berlin’s largest railway terminus, a romantic ruin in a rubbish-strewn steppe; and only one picture of the Wall, taken through the doorway to a courtyard. Apart from this: vacant lots, firewalls, mud, puddles, a Citroen 2CV, an Opel Kadett. And no people. The poster on the wall to the right must originally have said ‘Auf geht’s’ (let’s go) until someone tore away the ‘Auf’, leaving a far less dynamic statement (akin to a questioning ‘hanging in there?’).

Berlin then was a city of bombsites and blockades, one of stumbling and stasis; the city that made Michael Schmidt’s oeuvre possible. For me, his friend, he was the great, awe-inspiring, incorruptible punk of German photography, who departed before his time on 24 May this year. On the way to the funeral, my neighbour, the photographer Tobias Zielony, boarded the train with a steaming cup from the much-praised new coffee bar at the southern end of Friedrichstrasse. Now it’s we, his young friends and colleagues, who live in the houses once used in Schmidt’s brutally austere photographs to expose the various gravities of German history.

ohne Titel, from the series EIN-HEIT, 1991–94, silver gelatin print

Somewhere in Schmidt’s archive there is a portrait of Gerhard Schröder, taken in Hanover in 1999 when Schröder was chancellor. I’ve never seen it, nor have many others, as Schmidt never published it. He once explained to me that another image – of an anonymous CEO on the back seat of a limousine from the EIN-HEIT series (UN-IT-Y, 1991–94), his pinched, staring face in half shadow – is a better image of power.

Schmidt could certainly have had it easier. Others became rich and famous by photographing things that everyone was already interested in, or by travelling the world to take the same picture over and over in different settings. Schmidt, though, broke the mould with each new series. In 1967, while Michael Ruetz was shooting iconic images of historic demonstrations and sit-ins, Schmidt was exploring Kreuzberg’s courtyards. And in 1989, when pictures of partying crowds on the Berlin Wall went around the world, he was taking photos of deserted squares in East German housing projects. These photographs were published in 2010 in the small book 89/90. Page 89: a photograph of a mountain of rubbish protruding above a fence. Page 90: the same picture again. And again on page 91. Fuck your magical reunification. Fuck your euphoria about the future.

Schmidt’s work is inscribed with an uncompromising resistance –precisely because it is entirely free of agitation, theatricality or drama. Because it plunges into formal conflicts where every statement is against resolution. Whereas photography is often still treated as a window onto the world, Schmidt showed that photographs can also be surfaces where the gaze rebounds off firewalls, vacant lots, window shutters. He showed that pictures can be repeated and ironized, like the lady with the triple chin in Schmidt’s chef d’oeuvre EIN -HEIT (published 1996) who reappears, mirrored, when one turns the page. Or that they can create irresolvable feedback loops of collective memory when they jump back and forth between overdetermination and a refusal to speak, again in EIN-HEIT: floral patterned wallpaper; plans for a concentration camp featuring a moiré effect; Adolf Eichmann in a hat; a tapestry with two medieval musicians; a murky grey picture of the sea. The void and its counterpart, the visual block, are the primary motifs in Schmidt’s photographs. His legacy lies in the suggestion of sequentiality that constantly sabotages itself and in representation that rebels against its own frame.

ohne Titel, from the series Berlin nach 45, 1980
silver gelatin print

In the series Waffenruhe (Ceasefire, 1985–87), dealing with the reality of the Berlin Wall, Schmidt developed an editing technique (the edit as excerpt and break) that relinquishes any claim to a sovereign overview, a technique he pursued further in EIN-HEIT, Frauen (Women, 1997–99, published 2000) and Lebensmittel (Food, 2006–10, published 2012). Published in 1987, Waffenruhe was the first time he fully exploited the potential of the book form, consistently taking an anti-narrative approach that deliberately shot itself in the foot. The volume has cinematic qualities, restricted view after restricted view: leftover tape between two tree trunks like the remains of a cordon or bandage; a bit of dirt on a pane of glass obscuring the view of a blurred street beyond; graffiti on a section of Wall that had been carelessly, indifferently painted over. The pictured subjects seem too big for the viewfinder. Too big, too close, impossible to get past. And when these enclosed scenes are suddenly interrupted by the appearance of a human figure – a young punk in a sad pose – his face is blurred, the focus lying instead on his clasped hands. In this way, he shifted the impact from individual pictures into the gaps between them, causing the images to constantly call each other into question. Waffenruhe represents an exemplary juxta­position of the objective image and the subjective view, performing their contradictions rather than trying to resolve them in a specific sense, as he had done a decade earlier.

For an attempt at resolution from a subjective viewpoint, we can look to Schmidt’s first book published in 1973, a survey of Berlin’s Kreuzberg district (Berlin Kreuzberg). It contains empathetic portraits of artists and immigrant children, romantic courtyard scenes and architectural studies that recall the US photographer Paul Strand, such as Hochbahn, im Hintergrund Postscheckamt Berlin-West (Elevated railroad, West Berlin Postal Check Office in the background). (Strand’s books were the first purchased by a 20-year-old Schmidt in 1965, early on in his personal discovery of photography.) Five years after the Berlin Kreuzberg series, reportage’s claim to depict people, things and living conditions as objectively as possible led Schmidt in the opposite direction, towards a more clinical approach: people at home and at work, carefully lit, follow a section showing deserted streets in his book on another Berlin district (Berlin-Wedding, 1978). This book was the only time Schmidt came close to the school of Bernd and Hilla Becher, before abandoning such strict for­malism the same year, exemplified by the photos in his book Berlin. Stadtlandschaft und Menschen (Berlin. Cityscape and People).

Schmidt was an autodidact and, from an early age, did things his own way. In 1965, he joined an amateur photographic society to hone his technical skills but left soon after. ‘When they photographed rain’, he later explained in an interview, ‘it looked like glass beads. When I photographed rain, it looked like rain.’ In photography courses at adult education colleges in Kreuzberg and Neukölln, Schmidt soon switched from studying to teaching. Because there were few opportunities to exhibit photography at the time, he took it upon himself to show his series Das Alter (Age) in Möckernbrücke underground station in 1974 and Die berufstätige Frau (Working Women) at Kreuzberg Town Hall a year later. The same year, he became one of the first German photographers to exhibit in a contemporary art gallery. After visiting a Brassaï show at Rudolf Springer on Berlin’s Fasanenstrasse, he called the gallery to introduce himself. Springer: ‘So what’s your approach to photography?’ Schmidt: ‘I take pictures in Berlin.’ Looking at these pictures at Schmidt’s studio the next day, Springer reportedly said: ‘They’re all boring. But there’s method to them. We’ll do an exhibition.’

In 1976, Schmidt founded the Workshop for Photography at Kreuzberg’s adult education college, making a contribution to postwar German photography that has yet to be fully evaluated. Alongside the photography classes run by the Bechers at the Dusseldorf Art Academy and by Otto Steinert at the Folkwangschule in Essen, Kreuzberg became the third centre of a nascent discourse on art photography. Schmidt’s course sought contact with developments in the UK and the US, inviting colleagues like John Gossage and William Eggleston to Berlin to lecture and teach. In 1978, Schmidt showed parts of the pioneering exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape that was originally shown in 1975 in Rochester, New York. Recalling his first visit to Berlin, Gossage wrote in 1987 that Schmidt and his students wanted to: ‘pick the Americans’ brains. […] The US seemed to be doing the most interesting work at the time and they wanted to know how it was done. Something that might have been true then but has certainly changed 180 degrees since.’1

ohne Titel, from the series EIN-HEIT, 1991–94, silver gelatin print

Gossage’s Anglo-Saxon charitableness seems right. While Gossage’s own pictures of the Wall may have been what presented it as a worthwhile motif, his stylized approach in the tradition of American landscape photography was eclipsed by the sobriety of Schmidt’s Waffenruhe. With this series, Schmidt found his singular idiom, overcoming the illusion of objectivity in favour of a radical subjectivity, without ever slipping into the personal or the anecdotal. A solo show curated by Peter Galassi at MoMA in New York in 1988 brought Schmidt international recognition. But even after this museum validation, the book remained the conceptual framework for Schmidt’s series. Exhibitions are variations on the original, but Schmidt approached them with the same ruthless precision. In a show at Munich’s Haus der Kunst in 2010, for example, the photographs from EIN-HEIT were regimentally hung in steel frames at the same height at regular intervals around the monumental hall.

In photographs by the Bechers and many of their students like Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer and Thomas Struth, the classificatory thinking of the Enlightenment still exerts an influence, albeit in broken form. Their images always also celebrate the apparatus of production. With their supposed neutrality, they stabilize a viewing space in which the roles of those who make pictures and what they depict are clearly defined. Schmidt’s photography collapses this space again and again. Each picture presents itself as part of a situated exchange between subjects, mediated via the camera. The result is an existential introspection with no trace of sentimentality – objectivity without neutrality.

In Berlin-Wedding, Schmidt was still attempting to reach context-specificity through distance to his subject matter. In Waffenruhe this was achieved differently: the photographic apparatus looks back at itself, and all elements of the ‘photographic encounter’,2 including the photographer – and ultimately also the viewer – were called to account. This was a context-specificity that did without a firm basis, a practice that constantly reflected on its own conditions and that culminated in the photographs of Schmidt’s own genitals included in his 2010 Haus der Kunst retrospective (Untitled, from the series SELBST, Self, 1985).

ohne Titel, from the series LEBENSMITTEL, 2006–10, included in
The Encyclopedic
Palace – Il Palazzo Enciclopedico
55th Venice Biennale, 2013

In his book Regieren im Bildraum (Ruling Pictorial Space, 2008) Tom Holert distinguishes between pictures that generate difference and those that generate identity, thus not actually being pictures in the strict sense – like passport and ID photographs.3 In EIN-HEIT Schmidt included his own portrait, that of his identity card, but by reframing it he reappropriated it from his official state registration. It is precisely through his use of pictures that refuse pictorial status – only gaining impact in combination through contrast, repetition, mirroring and empty pages – that Schmidt can be understood to reclaim pictoriality.

With its laconic severity and no-bullshit pragmatism, Schmidt’s photography resembles the Brutalist architecture on which it often focused – be it buildings by Werner Düttmann in Kreuzberg or the Ihme Zentrum in Hanover where he took his first pictures outside Berlin in 1997. This was also where he photographed the series Frauen, which was pasted up on billboards with no further explanation as part of the Berlin Biennale in 2010. Disconcerting in their austere objectivity the details of female bodies were not obscured by an erotic charge or false empathy. They were proof of Schmidt’s radical pragmatism and his struggle towards a new, common sense humanism – something which he spoke of on numerous occasions towards the end of his life.

In Schmidt’s reflexive approach, any system exists not least in order to challenge itself. It is only logical, then, after 40 years of maintaining an abstract distance to reality via black and white photography, that his series Lebensmittel, in a change prompted in part by his first use of a digital camera, should make limited use of colour: the pink of a slice of mortadella, the pale yellow of a frozen pizza. Interestingly his exploration of the food industry, for which he visited factories and plantations across Europe, brought him as close as he had been to the content-focus of reportage photography since Berlin-Wedding. But these photographed subjects are detached from their locations. Schmidt’s approach to the strictures of the food industry is less illustrative than structural, as when he juxtaposes the head and rear end of a cow in pictures that seem to mirror each other. In 2013, Lebensmittel was shown at the 55th Venice Biennale and Schmidt was posthumously awarded the Prix Pictet in London for the series a year later.

ohne Titel 
From the series NATUR
1989 / 2014, silver gelatin print

In the final months of his life Schmidt produced a new book with his assistant Laura Bielau. It is small, bound in bright green linen, and titled Natur (Nature, 2014). It shows a majestic gnarled tree in a clearing, the light falling through its crown; on the facing page, the same tree, the camera angle lowered slightly. A branch bathed in sunlight against a slightly blurred backdrop of conifers is pictured; on the next double spread, the same image again, enlarged, as if opening your eyes a little wider. This is not untouched nature, and anything but a romantic gaze, but the book does modify Schmidt’s image as a photographer of merely concrete landscapes. In these counter-images to the built urban environment there are echoes of EIN-HEIT, as well as of Waffenruhe and the early Kreuzberg pictures. The photographs in Natur were taken between 1987 and ’97. That they have been published now comes across as a belated letting go. Like the streets of Kreuzberg, these snippets of nature are almost deserted, except for a cow, a duck and a fieldfare. But one gap is especially marked here – that left by the passing of this dis­coverer of problems, teller of jokes, inquisitive friend and remarkable photographer.

Translated by Nicholas Grindell

KOLJA REICHERT
Kolja Reichert is a writer and critic. His reviews, essays and reportage have been published in newspapers such as Welt am Sonntag, Der Tagesspiegel, Die Zeit, and Weltkunst. He lives in Berlin.


Deutsch
1 John Gossage, Stadt des Schwarz / Eighteen
Photographs of Berlin by John Gossage (Loosestrife, Washington, D.C., 1987)
2 See Ariella Azoulay, The Civil Contract of Photography (Zone Books, New York, 2008)
3 ‘Picturelessness can thus mean, on the one hand, an absence of images in the pictorial space of the present due to censorship and repression, but also, on the other, the overwhelming presence of such pictures that consist exclusively in their function, such as that of identification.’ Tom Holert, Regieren im Bildraum (b_books, Berlin, 2008), p. 22
















donderdag 6 december 2018

Views & Reviews Vulnerable Man in the Last Days before He has To Go into the Cell Good Goddamn Bryan Schutmaat Photography


8TH FEBRUARY 2018
GOOD GODDAMN BY BRYAN SCHUTMAAT, REVIEWED BY ROBIN TITCHENER

In 2013 one of the most beautiful photo books that I have ever seen was released. The majestic Grays the Mountain Sends by Bryan Schutmaat. A study of blue collar working class communities in rural mid west America. It quietly announced itself as a classic, and proceeded to cast it’s spell over all those lucky enough to be able to acquire it. Everything about this book exuded quality. From the solid steel post binding, the choice of paper, and the inks chosen to highlight the star of the show, Bryan Schutmaat’s gloriously cinematic images. Even the title, taken from the poem Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg by Richard Hugo, enigmatic, wistful, melancholic, was a work of art.

Now, nearly five years later, quietly and without fanfare comes his second collection of original work. This time from Schutmaat’s own newly established publishing imprint Trespasser, and entitled simply, Good Goddamn.

Whether by chance or by design, once again Schutmaat has produced an elegiac study of jaded, fractured American masculinity. With Grays he focused on the hard working, world weary souls of the mining towns in the mid west of America. Towns and communities of yesteryear. Once booming and thriving on the success of the mining industry. Now shadows of their former selves, clinging to the present with an increasingly tenuous grip. Portraits and landscapes captured and committed to paper in delicate, subdued even faded, colour tones that perfectly complimented the mood of the piece.

Whilst Good Goddamn has a similar mood feel, thereafter the similarities start to soften.

The focus of Good Goddamn is a single figure. His name is Kris and he is in fact Schutmaat’s friend. We are told the pictures show his last days of freedom before being incarcerated. The nature of his crime not specified. The duration of his sentence unimportant. These are details that are irrelevant. The purpose of the book, it seems, is to heighten the realisation that the simple acts of choice that Kris – up until that point – would not have given a seconds thought to, are about to be denied him.

Unlike the muted colour pallet chosen for Grays, Good Goddamn is shot in black and white. The choice perfect for the reflective nature of the images. Pictures of the landscape, of home. of fun being had. Taking the truck out for one last blast around the fields. Hunting, drinking beer, sitting around a fire. Days with a friend, days full of simple nothingness… the happiest days. Then (for me at least) one image that reminds us why we have been invited here…..a hand pressed against a screen door, the face on the other side in silhouette. The outline of his cap….wisps of hair. A figure…anonymous…indistinguishable… unreachable.  A barrier…. him on one side us on the other, a hand reaching out, but no contact possible. This is where the fun stops.

The images implore us also to look at them with the same eyes, with his eyes, to realise that the simplest of pleasures are worth savouring. Take nothing for granted, anything done in the moment maybe done for the last time.

Then amongst the moments of reflection and farewell, a promise…a fire kept burning and the assurance of a waiting friend. In the book’s short coda written by Schutmaat, the cold beer and open door of a statement that would, no doubt be carried through the time spent away.

Good Goddamn is a consummate exercise in restraint. Printed on sumptuous superfine paper and bound in a plain black cover, secured by simple carton staples. The title loosely hand written across the front. it is as elegant and understated as Hepburn in shades. The content as perfect as a Carver short story, and as with Carver, there is no wastage here…no start and no end. Just a snapshot,…. a moment in the life of someone that is as ordinary and unexceptional as the rest of us. However as we all know, from a personal perspective even those unexceptional moments as viewed by those around, can be incidents of earth shattering importance to us.

To be both confident and talented enough to tell a story in twenty seven pictures are skills to be recognised and applauded. Each image to be studied and appreciated, each as important as the last. It goes without saying that this is the intention of every artist who presents their work for our consumption. However, many times the sheer volume of work contained between the covers of a book leaves heads spinning and turns an artist statement into an endurance test. How many times have I returned to a title to discover that I had missed a diamond of an image. Some may consider that a treat, but would a book make sense if we skipped the odd page or two…for whatever reason?  In some instances,maybe, but would the author be happy to know that those precious words that would have been agonised over and placed for a reason, were being treated with such casual abandon.

Good Goddamn is another perfect moment from Bryan Schutmaat. It is also likely to be as coveted as his first book…. and just like the cherished time depicted  between it’s covers, likely to disappear as fast.

Don’t let it get away.

Good Goddamn is published by Trespasser Publications.

Robin Titchener is a keen, bordering on fanatical photobook collector of thirty years.



Kwetsbare man in de laatste dagen voor hij de cel in moet
Galerie De Amerikaanse fotograaf Bryan Schutmaat fotografeerde zijn vriend Kris in zijn laatste vrije dagen voordat hij naar de gevangenis gaat.

Rianne van Dijck
5 december 2018

Foto uit de serie Good Goddamn van Bryan Schutmaat (2017)

Galerie
Bryan Schutmaat, Good Goddamn

T/m 5 januari 2019 in Galerie Wouter van Leeuwen Amsterdam. Inl: woutervanleeuwen.com

●●●●●

Een man in een stoere geruite bloes met een cowboyhoed. Een zwaar gehavende pick-uptruck die door de modder ploegt in een verlaten bos. Hoeveel visuele elementen heb je in een fotoserie nodig om een verhaal bij de kijker op gang te brengen? Voeg daar foto’s aan toe van gestroopt wild, een jachtgeweer met telescoop-vizier en heel veel lege blikjes bier – en het is nog duidelijker: deze foto’s zijn gemaakt in het Amerikaanse Westen, ver weg van stadse beschaving, daar waar het leven ruig en hard is. Het zijn de ingrediënten van het fantastische fotoboek Good Goddamn van de Texaanse fotograaf Bryan Schutmaat (1983), waarvan nu vijftien foto’s te zien zijn in galerie Wouter van Leeuwen in Amsterdam.

Good Goddamn is een klein maar indrukwekkend project over Schutmaats goede vriend Kris, die in februari 2017 de laatste dagen in vrijheid doorbrengt voordat hij naar de gevangenis gaat. Wat de reden voor die detentie is laat Schutmaat in het midden. Het feit dat Kris nog vrij kan rondlopen suggereert dat het niet om een ernstig delict gaat, de melancholische sfeer in de foto’s maakt echter duidelijk dat wat komen gaat niet licht opgenomen wordt.

Alhoewel we Kris nergens duidelijk in beeld zien – Schutmaat fotografeerde hem op zijn rug, van veraf terwijl hij aan het jagen is, liggend in het gras met zijn arm over zijn gezicht of heel¬¬ onscherp – wordt invoelbaar hoezeer de komende gevangenschap als een zwaard boven zijn hoofd hangt. In dit stoeremannenuniversum van roken, drinken en jagen neemt Schutmaat met zijn subtiele foto’s de kijker mee in de kwetsbaarheid van dit moment.


Foto’s uit de serie Good Goddamn van Bryan Schutmaat (2017).

Ondanks de melancholische toon eindigt het boek met een lichte noot. „Dit boek is voor hem, het vuur dat hij brandend houdt en de nieuwe wereld die hem wacht”, schrijft Schutmaat, hintend op de toekomstige vrijlating van Kris. En in de tweede editie van Good Goddamn, uitgebracht in 2018, is een brief toegevoegd die Kris vanuit de gevangenis schreef: „Ik maak me soms zoveel zorgen. Het is moeilijk hierbinnen. Maar soms, in de avonden, kan ik de herten zien, en de paarden die hierachter in het veld lopen. Dan voel ik me weer oké.”

Het boek Good Goddamn (27 foto’s in zwart-wit) is in 2017 uitgegeven door uitgeverij Trespasser; 1ste editie 88 euro, 2de editie (2018 - inclusief brief van Kris uit de gevangenis) 45 euro, te koop bij de galerie.



dinsdag 4 december 2018

PDN Notable PhotoBooks of 2018 Photography


PDN Notable PhotoBooks of 2018
december 3, 2018

Throughout this year, in reviews, features and interviews, we’ve highlighted a remarkable collection of new photo books. From reissues of classic titles newly relevant to our contemporary culture, to retrospectives by legendary photographers, to conceptual projects that make us reconsider the creative potential of the photo book, these are the titles that caught our eyes. To read more about these projects, use the links below.
Photograph by Richard Avedon/© The Richard Avedon Foundation
Nothing Personal
By Richard Avedon and James Baldwin
Essay by Hilton Als
Taschen
160 pages
$69.99
Self-portrait with James Baldwin, September 1964. Photograph by Richard Avedon/© The Richard Avedon Foundation
A rerelease of Nothing Personal, the collaborative book by Richard Avedon and James Baldwin first published in 1964. Combining Avedon’s images of civil rights activists and white supremacists, politicians, artists and patients at a Louisiana mental hospital, and a 20,000-word essay by Baldwin, the book ruminated on American identity. The new Taschen edition is a reprint of the original, slip-cased with a 72-page booklet that includes an essay by critic Hilton Als.
Photographs by Mark Klett, Byron Wolfe
Text by Rebecca Solnit
Radius Books
212 pages,
$65.00
The area of the Colorado River around Glen Canyon and Lake Powell is the subject of this book of photographs by Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe, with text by Rebecca Solnit. Drowned River: The Death and Rebirth of Glen Canyon on the Colorado takes Eliot Porter’s 1963 photo book about the area as a starting point, reproducing many of its pages. Porter’s book served as a guide for the trio’s research as they investigated what has happened to the river since it was dammed.
© Sally Mann /Courtesy of the New Orleans Museum of Art: Collection of H. Russell Albright, M.D.
Sally Mann’s “Deep South, Untitled (Stick), 1998,” from her book A Thousand Crossings. © Sally Mann /Courtesy of the New Orleans Museum of Art: Collection of H. Russell Albright, M.D.
Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings
Abrams
Essays by Hilton Als, Malcolm Daniel, Drew Gilpin Faust
230 photos, 320 pages
$55
This catalogue was produced to accompany the retrospective exhibition of Mann’s work organized by the National Gallery of Art and the Peabody Essex Museum. Essays by Hilton Als, Malcolm Daniel and Drew Gilpin Faust are illustrated with both Mann’s work and images by Emmet Gowin, Harry Callaghan, Timothy H. O’Sullivan and other photographers who photographed family, landscape and historic sites. The comparisons show how Mann photographed in a way that is uniquely her own.
Resurrection City, 1968
By Jill Freedman
Essays by John Edwin Mason, Aaron Bryant
Damiani
176 pages, 141 b&w images
$45
This new edition of Freedman’s 1971 book marked the 50th anniversary of the Poor People’s Campaign, which included a seven-week occupation of the Washington Mall in 1968. Before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had launched the Campaign to address American poverty.
The Hunt
By Álvaro Laiz
Dewi Lewis Publishing
108 pages
$50
Laiz tells the story of a poacher whose attempt to kill an Amur tiger disrupted the peaceful coexistence of people and animals in a remote region in Russia’s Far East, using his images, stories gathered from local hunters and a small number of archival photos.
Merrie Albion: Landscape Studies of a Small Island
Merrie Albion: Landscape Studies of a Small Island
By Simon Roberts
Dewi Lewis Publishing
152 pages, 66 photographs
$62
Roberts uses landscape photographs to consider the past decade of British political and cultural history. His tableaux of political campaigns, parades, protests, festivals, celebrations, public markets and the like are drawn from previous projects. His extended captions relate the images to both recent and historic events.
Transcendental Concord
By Lisa McCarty
Essays by Rebecca Norris Webb, Kirsten Rian
Radius Books
124 pages, 50 photographs
$55
McCarty explores the history of the Transcendentalists by making photographs of the places that were important to them in the 1830s and ’40s, using techniques inspired by their writing.
Sory Sanlé: Volta Photo
Text by Attawan Byrd, Florent Mazzoleni
120 pages, 100 photos
Steidl/Art Institute of Chicago
$45
This catalogue accompanies an exhibition of photos by Burkina Faso-born photographer Sanlé Sory, who shot album covers for Volta Jazz and other popular bands and made portraits for an array of customers. Many of his sitters wanted portraits that captured their hip style and he posed them with props such as a motorcycle, a telephone, a record player and painted backdrops that showed a beach, an airplane, classical pillars or a city street. Outside his studio, Sory photographed numerous concerts and house parties.
Pompeii Archive
Pompeii Archive
By William Wylie
Essay by Sarah Betzer, afterword by Jock Reynolds
Yale University Art Gallery
120 pages, 83 illustrations
$35
Wylie’s black-and-white photographs of Pompeii, the Roman city buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, show the marble columns and brick façades of partially destroyed buildings; the remnants of murals, sculptures and other artworks; the preserved bodies and bones of Pompeii’s residents; and artifacts unearthed as excavation and preservation of the site has continued.
Hiroshi Sugimoto: Portraits
Text by Maria Hambourg and Hiroshi Sugimoto
Damiani and MW Editions
120 pages, 70 photographs
$45
Sugimoto’s images, elegantly lit and shot against black backdrops, depict wax figures of famous people and historic figures—such as Napoleon, Henry VIII and Shakespeare—whom we know only from paintings or illustrations. Thebook plays with the real and the imagined, mixing Sugimoto’s portraits of living people among his images of wax tableaux.
Manifest
By Kristine Potter
Text by Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa
TBW Books
92 pages, 48 images
$45
Through large-format, black-and-white portraits of men who live and work close to the land in the West, and landscape images that depict rugged, inhospitable terrain, Potter’s book challenges the unique mythology created by westward expansion, and the idealized concept of American masculinity it begat.
El Libro Supremo de la Suerte
El Libro Supremo de la Suerte
By Rose Marie Cromwell
TIS Books / Light Work
188 pages, 89 images
$65
Cromwell’s mysterious, non-linear book of photographs of Cuba combines both staged and documentary images with photographs of small, photocopied booklets of La Charada, a Cuban-Chinese number system that Cubans use to play the lottery.
© David Levinthal/George Eastman Museum, gift of Donald Rosenfeld Jr.
“Iwo Jima, 2012,” from David Levinthal’s series “History.” © David Levinthal/George Eastman Museum, gift of Donald Rosenfeld Jr.
David Levinthal: War, Myth, Desire
Foreword by Bruce Barnes
Text by Lisa Hostetler, Joanna Marsh, Dave Hickey
George Eastman Museum
240 pages, 170 images
$49.95
The catalogue to the first retrospective exhibition of Levinthal’s work in more than 20 years includes all of Levinthal’s major series, and commercial and editorial works. “His art is particularly eloquent on the subject of the tales that we tell ourselves about who we are and how we fit into the world,” writes George Eastman Museum photography curator Lisa Hostetler, who curated Levinthal’s exhibition.
H+
By Matthieu Gafsou
Text by David le Breton
Kehrer Verlag
152 pages, 79 images
$50
Matthieu Gafsou uses the visual language of science and technology to explore Transhumanism, the belief that that human body needs to be enhanced, and perhaps even overcome. Gafsou’s book includes a combination of portraiture, still lifes and documentary photographs of Tranhumanist people, facilities, tools and technology.
PINE
By Eirik Johnson
Minor Matters
80 pages, 40 images
12-inch vinyl record
$50
PINE investigates messages carved into the bark of trees. Through large-format photographs made at night with long exposures and light-painting techniques, Johnson’s photographs explore the urge to create a lasting record of love, inspiration or simply one’s place in the world. Includes a vinyl record of music inspired by the photographs.
The Beat Scene
Photographs by Burt Glinn
Texts by Sarah Stacke and Michael Shulman
Essay by Jack Kerouac
Reel Art Press
160 pages, 150 images
$39.95
A book of Magnum photographer Burt Glinn’s images of Beatnik culture, made in the years 1957-60. Glinn, who passed away in 2008, documented the Beat milieu in New York and San Francisco on assignments for Esquire and Holiday magazines.
And Time Unfolds
By Vanessa Winship
Essay by David Chandler
Mack Books
256 pages
$45
A book published to accompany a retrospective of Winship’s work at the Barbican in London, And Time Unfolds includes images from throughout her career images. It includes the documentary-style images she shot in the Balkans on 35mm in the early 1990s, and then her shift to medium-format, which coincided with her move to more contemplative landscapes and portraits.
To Survive on This Shore
Photographs and text by Jess T. Dugan
Text by Karen Irvine, Vanessa Fabbre
Kehrer Verlag
164 pages
$55
The result of a five-year project by Jess T. Dugan and social worker Vanessa Fabbre, To Survive on This Shore documents the underrepresented community of aging transgender and gender nonconforming people through portraits and stories.
Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness
Visual activist Zanele Muholi, acclaimed for their portraits of the South African LGBTQ community and their work to combat homophobic violence in South Africa, has now turned to self-portraits. Part visual autobiography and part political manifesto, the book features 100 self-portraits Muholi made using props close at hand—yarn, plastic, tape and safety pins, to name just a few items—to represent moments of personal history and process feelings about their encounters with racism.
Mind The Gap
By Joshua Lutz
Schilt Publishing
160 pages
$50
Lutz uses photography and text to create a story about anxiety and mental health in contemporary American society.
© Alex Prager
“Eve, 2008” from Alex Prager’s Silver Lake Drive. © Alex Prager
Silver Lake Drive
By Alex Prager
Introduction by Michael Govan, interview by Nathalie Herschdorfer
Chronicle Books
224 Pages
$60
It’s hard to believe it’s been just over a decade since Alex Prager’s cinematic images of young women in retro costumes first gained attention. Her first retrospective book gathers all of her work to date.
Flowers for Lisa
By Abelardo Morell
Essay by Lawrence Weschler
Abrams
144 pages, 100 images
$60
Morell turns a common, fleeting romantic gesture—giving flowers to a loved
one—into something lasting and permanent: a series of 76 hypnotic photographs, made using a variety of techniques, that commemorate his love for his wife.
Fish Town: Down the Road to Louisiana’s Vanishing Fishing Communities
By J.T. Blatty
Essay by Craig E. Colten
GFT Publishing
200 pages, 137 images
$39.95
Blatty’s book about life in southeastern Louisiana’s fishing communities is a compelling and unpretentious document of a region and its people, surviving in the face of economic decline and rising, warming seas.
The American Fraternity: An Illustrated Ritual Manual
By Andrew Moisey
Essays by Cynthia Robinson, Nicholas L. Syrett
Daylight Books
144 pages, 96 images
$45
Moisey’s book combines his insider images of an unnamed college fraternity with texts drawn from a 1950s fraternity ritual manual, which includes the organization’s history and official rules, and scripts for meetings and initiations, highlighting its high-minded ideals. At the heart of the book is the dissonance between the fraternity’s ideals and its reality.
Mistral: The Legendary Wind of Provence
By Rachel Cobb
Introduction by Bill Buford
Damiani
192 pages, 90 photos
$50
A collection of colorful, evocative images documenting the effects of the northerly wind that, the author writes, “funnels down the Rhone Valley between the Alps and the Massif Central, gaining speed as it reaches the Mediterranean.”
Daylight Ghosts: History, Myth, Memory
By David Lurie
Text by James Sey
Hatje Cantz
72 pages, 29 photographs
$60
South African photographer David Lurie uses landscape photography to evoke the complicated history of South Africa’s Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located about 30 miles northwest of Johannesburg, the Cradle is a paleontological site, where some of the earliest hominid fossils—dating back 3 million years—have been discovered.
War is Only Half the Story: Ten Years of the Aftermath Project
Edited by Sara Terry
Dewi Lewis Publishing
268 pages, 121 images
$45

Stories supported by the post-conflict storytelling grant program founded in 2008 by Sara Terry, this book features the work of more than 50 photographers from 15 countries, including Nina Berman, Andrea Bruce, Jim Goldberg, Stanley Greene, Jessica Hines and Danny Wilcox Frazier.
I Am Inuit
By Brian Adams
Text by Julie Decker
Bentelli
208 pages, 150 images
$50
Inuit photographer Brian Adams visited 16 Inuit villages and four Alaskan cities to gather portraits and stories that shares what it’s like to me an Alaskan Inuit. Adams’s environmental portraits were shot of 6×6 color film.
Where I Find Myself: A Lifetime Retrospective
By Joel Meyerowitz
Text by Colin Westerbeck
Laurence King Publishing
220 pages, 400 images
$65
The first major, single-book retrospective of Meyerowitz’s work, the book spans the artist’s entire career to date.
One, Two, Three, More
By Helen Levitt
Text by Geoff Dyer and Helen Levitt
powerHouse Books
204 pages
$40
Helen Levitt, who died in 2009, was a photographer with an eye for life’s wonders and disillusionments, which she captured with spirit and humor in her photographs of everyday life on city streets. This new collection gathers her earlier work, including many previously unpublished images.
Over My Eyes
Over My Eyes
Images by Ali Arkady, Aram Karim, Bnar Sardar, Seivan M. Salim, Hawre Khalid, Rawsht Twana, Twana Abdullah, Sebastian Meyer, Dario Bosio
Text by Fred Ritchin, Stefano Carini, Dario Bosio
DARST
164 pages
$65
Through the eyes of a young generation of Iraqi photographers, Over My Eyes presents moments of daily life in Iraq, a country trapped by conflict. The book and traveling exhibition aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of a region facing a major humanitarian catastrophe by offering atypical images of Iraq.
The Last Tattooed Women of Kalinga
By Jake Verzosa
Text by François Cheval, Natividad Sugguiyao
Steidl
96 pages, 44 images
$45
Winner of the Steidl Book Award Asia 2017, Verzosa’s book of black-and-white portraits celebrates a dying tradition of tattooing in villages throughout the Cordillera mountains in the northern Philippines.
We are Indestructible
By Mads Nissen
GOST Books
192 pages, 162 images
$60
Danish photographer Mads Nissen has documented the civil war in Colombia since 2010. This book is the culmination of Nissen’s work, providing a portrait of a war-torn country navigating the complexities of newfound peace.
Priya Ramrakha
Edited by Erin Haney, Shravan Vidyarthi
Texts by Sana Aiyar, Erin Haney, John Edwin Mason, Morley Safer, Paul Theroux, Drew Thompson, Shravan Vidyarthi
Kehrer Verlag
$45
After Kenyan photojournalist Priya Ramrakha was killed on assignment in Biafra, Nigeria, in 1968, his photographic legacy and archive vanished. Four decades later, Erin Haney and Shravan Vidyarthi found his prints and negatives in Nairobi. This is the first book to present photographs from Ramrakha’s recovered archive.
Yo Soy Fidel
By Michael Christopher Brown
Text by Martin Parr, John Lee Anderson
Damiani
160 pages, 110 images
$50
In late 2016, Michael Christopher Brown photographed the funeral cortège transporting Fidel Castro’s ashes from Havana to his birthplace, Santiago. From a truck traveling with the military convoy, Brown photographed hundreds of thousands of Cubans waiting alongside the highway for Castro’s remains to pass.
Mediations
By Susan Meiselas
Foreword by Carles Guerra, Marta Gili. Text by Ariella Azoulay, Eduardo Cadava, Carles Guerra, Marianne Hirsch, Kristen Lubben, Isin Onol, Pia Viewing
Damiani/Jeu de Paume/Fundació Tàpies
184 pages, 100 images
$35
Published to accompany Meiselas’s exhibition at Jeu de Paume, Mediations brings together a selection of series from the 1970s to the present, calling attention to Meiselas’s photographic approach and her lifelong commitment to engage in a “cycle of return” with her subjects, going back to the communities she has photographed and sharing the work with them.

BOOKS WE MISSED

Try as we might, we couldn’t write about every great book this year. Here’s a few we missed.

by Dawoud Bey
Essays by Sarah Lewis, Deborah Willis, David Travis, Hilton Als, Dawoud Bey, Jacqueline Terrassa, Rebecca Walker, Maurice Berger, Leigh Raiford
400 pages
$65
This retrospective includes critical essays that put each of Bey’s long-term projects into context, showing how they represent his interests in community, identity, history and creating reciprocity between photographer and subject. It traces his move from 35mm street photography to more formal portraits shot on medium format cameras and how his collaborations with his subjects deepened. Taken together, the essays show how Bey has sought not only represent communities but to use photography to foster community.
On Abortion: And the Repercussions of Lack of Access
By Laia Abril
Dewi Lewis Publishing
196 pages, 114 images
$50
The first book in Abril’s long-term project “A History of Misogyny,” On Abortion is an accomplished work of research that combines portraiture and still life photographs with historical images and texts. The book discusses methods women have used in illegal abortions and tells the stories of several women, some of whom have survived abortions and others who have not. This deeply affecting work demonstrates how access to abortion has affected women’s lives both historically and in contemporary society.
Jasper
By Matthew Genitempo
Twin Palms
96 pages, 51 images
$85
Genitempo’s series made in Jasper, Arkansas, a small town in the Ozark mountains, where he followed a few singular men who have chosen to lead sequestered lives there.
Littoral Drift + Ecotone
By Meghan Riepenhoff
Texts by Charlotte Cotton, Joshua Chuang
Radius/Yossi Milo
224 pages, 100 images
$65
In Riepenhoff’s two series of camera-less cyanotypes, waves, surface water, wind, sediment and other elements leave physical inscriptions through direct contact with photographic materials. The book features two volumes bound together.