woensdag 2 juni 2010

Chris Killip Ute Eskildsen Gerry Badger Jeffrey Ladd Yoko Sawada The Best photobooks in 25 years Photography

Title: The best photobooks in 25 years

An obscure masterpiece is chosen in our critic’s poll of the best photobooks of the past 25 years
Few readers will have heard of – let along seen – Masahisa Fukase’s 1986 book, Karasu (Ravens), first printed by Sokyu-sha, a Japanese publisher based in Tokyo. The original, and two further editions, are out of print, yet many regard it a modern masterpiece, and copies of the first edition change hands for more than £2000.

And now it has been named the best photobook of the past quarter century in BJP’s critic’s poll, run in conjunction with the And/Or Book Awards, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Photographed 10 years before it was published on a trip to his birthplace in northern Japan following a recent divorce, the book is a mournful reflection on Fukase’s past relationship, but has also been interpreted as a allegorical critique of modern industrialised society.

Largely shot through the windows of a train, focusing obsessively on the flocks of ravens he observed along the way, the images are described as “an aesthetic tour-de-force” in The Photobook: A History, Volume 1, edited by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger. “Even though Fukase made his pictures in bad light and bad weather, never bothering with technical niceties, the results are both luminous and beautiful,” say the authors. “He enlarges tiny portions of his negatives, pushing for the limits of legibility. One climatic image of silhouetted birds in formation, wings outstretched against a grainy sky, metamorphoses into a wire news service image of overheard warplanes, a significant, and traumatic image for postwar Japan.”

Adding to its cult status is the tragic fate of the photographer, who fell down a flight of stairs five years after the book was published and has remained in a coma ever since.

Karasu was republished by Bedford Arts in the US the same year, 1991, under the title of Solitude of Ravens, and more recently in 2008 by Rat Hole Gallery in Tokyo. Mark Hayworth Booth showed images from the series in the 1989 show he curated for Victoria & Albert Museum, Photography Now.

It was one of four books that received two nominations in our critic’s poll, for which we asked Chris Killip, Ute Eskildsen, Gerry Badger, Jeffrey Ladd and Yoko Sawada to select their top five choices (presented below). Nan Goldin’s Ballad of Sexual Dependency, also published in 1986, was a close runner and, as Killip points out, it was a remarkable year for photobooks, which included the publication of Martin Parr’s The Last Resort and Beyond Caring by Paul Graham. Fait: Koweit by Sophie Ristelhueber (recently named the winner of the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize) and Waffenruhe by Michael Schmidt were also nominated twice in the five lists, which provide an eclectic choice of reading, from Sawada’s all-Japanese selection to Eskildsen’s focus on more recent publications.

The winner of our critic’s poll was recognised at this year’s And/Or Book Award ceremony on 29 April, alongside the winner of the 2010 award, Edward Burtynsky. Sight & Sound magazine also conducted a critic’s poll, focusing on books on cinema. Its winner is A Biographical Dictionary of Film by David Thomson, most recently published by Random House.

Critic's Poll
We asked five experts to select their top five photobooks from the last quarter century (1986-2009) to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the And/Or Book Awards.

Chris Killip
Karasu (Ravens) by Masahisa Fukase
Published by Sokyu-sha, Japan, 1986

Ballad of Sexual Dependency by Nan Goldin
Published by Aperture, US, 1986

The Last Resort by Martin Parr
Published by Promenade Press, UK, 1986

Waffenruhe by Michael Schmidt
Published by Dirk Nishen, Germany, 1987

Fait: Koweit by Sophie Ristelhueber.
Published by Hazan, France, 1992

Ute Eskildsen
Temporary Discomfort by Jules Spinatsch
Published by Lars Müller, Switzerland, 2005

Charles Sheeler – Across Media by Charles Brock
National Gallery of Art, US, 2006

Manual by Wolfgang Tillmans.
Published by Walther König, Germany, 2007

Paul Graham by Paul Graham/Michael Mack.
Published by Steidl, Germany, 2009

Die Tode der Fotografie (The Deaths of Photography) by Katharina Sykora.
Published by Wilhelm Fink, Germany, 2009

Gerry Badger
Karasu (Ravens) by Masahisa Fukase
Published by Sokyu-sha, Japan, 1986

La Fille du Docteur (The Doctor’s Daughter) by Sophie Calle.
Published by Thea Westreich, US, 1991

Kaddish by Christian Boltanski
Published by Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris/Gina Kehayoff Verlag, 1998

Ballad of Sexual Dependency by Nan Goldin.
Published by Aperture, US, 1986

A Shimmer of Possibility by Paul Graham .
Published by Steidl/Mack, Germany, 2007

Jeffrey Ladd
The Pond by John Gossage
Published by Aperture, US, 1985

What We Bought: The New World by Robert Adams
Published by Yale University Art Gallery, US, 1995

Fait: Koweit by Sophie Ristelhueber.
Published by Hazan, France, 1992

Waffenruhe by Michael Schmidt.
Published by Dirk Nishen, Germany, 1987

In Flagrante by Chris Killip
Published by Secker and Warburg, UK, 1988

Yoko Sawada
Erotos by Nobuyoshi Araki
Published by Libroport, Japan, 1993

Living Room by Masato Seto
Published by Shincho-sha, Japan, 1996

Spider’s Strategy by Osamu Kanemura
Published by Osiris, Japan, 2001

18 by Otake ShinrBut a
Published by Aoyama Publishing, Japan, 2002

Gazetter by Taiji Matusue
Published by Daiwa Radiator Factory, Japan 2005

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