Goodbye and Hello…

Posted by on Dec 31, 2013 in Tony White | No Comments

On Saturday I was in NYC for the day. And as part of my travels among the west village, east village, soho, and lower east side, I visited familiar spots, places and spaces, and discovered new ones as well.  If you have been reading my postings thus far you’d probably guess that I stopped in at Printed Matter or at a shop such as Karma.  However, I instead spent quality time in McNally Jackson Books and at Dashwoodd Books, checking out photo book titles and selections — thinking about these past three months as well.

I was very pleasantly surprised by the selection of titles in the photobook/artbook area at McNally Jackson Books, specifically a display on the back two sides of a column on shelves and tables (entering the store from Spring Street, just past the counter on your right as you enter).  Several books caught by eye, and with permission from a store employee I took a few snapshots to jog my memory for this last write up. What impressed me the most was that all of the books, zines, independently published books, zines, etc., existed or coexisted in the same space as the other art books without special attention being drawn to them by format.  This was refreshing.  I spent about 30 minutes browsing this area and the adjacent shelving area that included books on graphic design and hoping to find titles related to design authorship, but I was not successful.


The first book that I pulled off the shelf was a copy of Bruno Munari’s “Seeking Comfort in an Uncomfortable Chair” with text in Italian and English.  The photos in the book come from a project that Munari published in issue 202 of Domus magazine in 1944.  Oddly I could not find this book in the online inventory for the McNally bookstore website (today, Dec. 31st), but I did find it listed at Idea Books. See the webpage below for further information on this title.


I also discovered a book by Paul Chan’s imprint, Badlands, Think Like Clouds by Hans Ulrich Obrist. Badlands makes a commitment to publish and sell books in print and in an ebook format.


Adjacent to this book on the table was a copy of “Another Companion to the Books from the Simpsons in Alphabetical Order,” published by Rollo Press in October 2013.  This book follows the publication of a similar book published in 2012: “A Pocket Companion to the Books from the Simpsons in Alphabetical Order.

Another Companion

Pocket Companion

I also ended up selecting (pulling off the shelf, browsing through) two publications from Swill Children and Eric-Mack.  One is by David Potes and Tad Sae: [the title is redacted with a black marker, evidenced on the publication and on the website].  Here is a description from the website: ” A 36 exposure roll of film—taken in Tad Sae, Laos—is presented, unedited, in its entirety as a four color Risograph printed publication.  The typical CMYK four color printing process was substituted with alternate colors to achieve an effect that is at times surreal and haunting, while maintaining a sense of the mood of Potes’ original images.”

David_Potes-Tad_Sae-01 David_Potes-Tad_Sae-03

The second book by this publisher is also untitled, by Erik Mack. Here is copy from the website “Eric Mack’s first publication is a 32 page exploration of the relationship textural objects have to the flattened page. The book is itself a piece through its process, the utilization of the Risograph’s onboard scanner prevents the possibility of further digital reproduction.  Additional textures were overprinted in different colors in order to create images that are simultaneously evocative and impossible. Made in an edition of 40, 20 of the copies have been modified by Mack with fabric dye and various re-sequencing and tearing. These processes directly reference Mack’s studio practice.”  The copies at McNally are not fabric dyed as far as I could tell.  However, they did come with a decorated paper bag.  This is a five color Risograph printed publication in a vertical 17 x 11″ format.

Eric_Mack-01 Eric_Mack-03

I also discovered a two additional publications but did not have time to photograph them, as I only discovered them on the way out of the store.  Of note were two spiral bound “books” with photo copied pages, inserts, and the like.  These reminded me of the photocopy books that were made and distributed in the 1980s by subscription.  I could not tell if these were a reprise or made in hommage, or if they were facsimiles.  They were numbered and signed for an edition.  I look forward to evaluating the reviewing these publications soon.

From McNally, I walked over to Dashwood Books up on Bond Street.  When I can I try to visit Dashwood to browse their new and used photobooks from around the world.  Though they concentrate on titles from the US, W. Europe and Japan.  I also like to browse through the two long wooden boxes at the counter that include the self published or independently published photo books, photo zines, and the like.  I found several titles of interest, but forgot to write them down. (sorry!)



On this New Year’s eve I am wrapping up this final posting as the CCNY guest blogger for these past three months.  It has been a real pleasure to have this opportunity to share with you my interests related to photo books, artists’ books, artists’ publications, photo zines, independent publishing, design authorship, etc.  I would like to thank the staff, director, and board of the Camera Club of New York for inviting me to be the guest blogger for the CCNY photo blog.  This is my first ever blogging experience and I am grateful to have had it here.

If you have questions about what I have written about please don’t hesitate to contact me there. I live in Baltimore and work at the Maryland Institute College of Art as Director of the Decker Library. Happy New Year! Cheers, Tony.


Posted by on Dec 31, 2013 in Tony White | No Comments

Here are a few selected sites where you can purchase photo books, artists’ books, independently published books, author designed books, and the like.

Please make a note in the comment section if there are places that I left off that you use, or have used to purchase independently published works of interest. In preparing this list I discovered that Zybooks in the UK is out of business, as is Bongout in Berlin.  Further evidence that making money in the book trade is tough, and that new shops come and go.  If you are a collector of precious printed matter buy when and where you can, for inspiration, research, greed or altruism.

As you browse these book sellers (some focus on distribution or publishing, as well) take note of the variety of publication formats and types, content too.  Are they similar?  What are they called or labeled as?  You may notice that the naming conventions are not fixed.  What one artist/designer/publisher calls a zine, is a self published photo book to someone else, or an artists’ book to another, or a designer authored publication.  There is a fluidity in publishing terminology used by authors and sellers that is fast and loose, moving freely beyond the 20th century naming convention of “artists’ books”.


Here is a listing of shops I am familiar with, and I encourage you to visit each:

Printed Matter

Art Metropole


Ooga Booga

Boekie Woekie

Vamp & Tramp

Pogo Books

Self Publish Be Happy

Dashwood Books


Family Los Angeles




Book storming

One Star Press

Artists Books

J & L Books

Florence Loewy

Antenne Books

Public Library


Umool Umool

Frenetic Happiness

Rollo Press

Spector Books

Split Fountain

Kingsboro Press


— Enjoy!

Eye Candy: Show and Tell (with brief notes)

Posted by on Dec 26, 2013 in Tony White | No Comments

Why show and tell?  These are a sampling of titles that are relevant and timely for current photo-book, artist book, and designer authored books.  Over the past two weeks I have begun rereading classic (?) texts related to artist books and photo-books, among others.  I wonder (to myself) how many people involved with the Camera Club of New York, and beyond, have read or remember reading “Photography Between the Covers” by Thomas Dugan?  The first edition was printed in 1979 with the second in 1983.  The publishing date is significant considering the self-conscious and intentional production of photo-books as or related to an art practice.  In 1965 Ed Ruscha was interviewed about his little photo-books referring to them as readymades that utilized amateur photography and a flatness in printing enabled by commercial offset printing.  Just 7-8 years prior to this interview Robert Frank published The Americans.  Frank was a photographer who published a photo-book, Ruscha an artist/illustrator who published an artist book.  Following the artist book paradigm, Diane Vanderlip curated an exhibition of “artists books” in 1973 in an attempt to define and describe what artists were doing with publishing.  By 1975 artists’ books were being published with this new definition in mind.  At this time the field of artists’ books also bifurcated, one direction continued with publications usually in editions and irregardless of printing method (offset, letterpress, photocopy, stencils, rubber stamps, etc.), the other direction explored the altered book or sculptural book object as an artists’ book type.  Dugan’s book is timely in that it includes interviews from among emerging, mid career, and established photographer’s actively using the book format to publish their work, create artist book or photo-books.  The book itself is dedicated to Syl Labrot (check out his book Pleasure Beach, which may still be for sale at the Visual Studies Workshop press).  Photographers included in Dugan’s book: Syl Labrot, Nathan Lyons, Ralph Gibson, Larry Clark, Keith Smith, Joan Lyons, Eikoh Hosoe, Bea Nettles, Duane Michals, George Tice, Robert Adams, Scott Hyde, A.D. Coleman, David Godine, and Sid Rapoport.

So why show and tell?  I included the following examples to pique your interest in artist books and your continued interest in photo-books.  It is my hope that I have introduced you to new topics or areas of inspiration as the guest blogger for the past three months.  I am grateful to the CCNY director and board for taking a chance and inviting a non-photographer to share a different perspective.  “Boundless” has been a favorite of mine since I was first introduced to it in 1995 while as an MFA student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  I worked in the Joan Flasch Artist’s Books Collection for two years in the mid-1990s and handled all the books in the collection.  Boundless is a conceptual one-liner that I refer to in teaching and for conceptual inspiration (and frustration).  Is this a multiple, an editioned object? Is it just an editioned artist book?  Or perhaps a book object?  It could be any or all three.  Honestly, I have not idea if it is a photo-book as well!


Boundless by David Stairs.

1990, c. 1983.


Boundless, recto.


Boundless, verso.

The continuous spiral binding makes the book impossible to open!


As with Boundless, I was introduced to Clinkscale at the Art Institute of Chicago’s artists’ books collection. The simplicity of the books, tongue and cheek presentation of an accordion (Clinkscale is a UK brand of accordion) on the covers, with the interior content displayed on an accordion fold, allows the reader a little smile of understanding; you are in on the joke.  But this smile transforms into puzzlement and wonder as you view the pages of the book – all of leaves of grass in a patch or field on a sunny day.  About ten years ago I corresponded with Helen Douglas who said that the content, for her, was more closely related to a moment of meditation or introspection, that it was meant to be pleasing and calming, and playful overall.

Clinkscale by Telfer Stokes and Helen Douglas.

Weproductions, 1977?


Clinkscale, cover.


Clinkscale, interior detail.

“This series of paperbacks published between 1972-1978 constitute early and original works in the development of the genre Artists’ Books / Book Art. Locating the book as structured place with the use of photography, the artists investigate imagery in relation to the page and the book format to develop new ways of reading. Primarily visual with embodied texts the books construct time-based and specialised narratives within the sequencing of pages.” — Weproductions website.


Kessels books reminds me of a mix among the artists’ books by John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Alex Sweetman, and the artists’ books by Philip Zimmermann.  This particular book of highly magnified black and white images of people dancing, includes numbers on each page.  As with many artists’ books there is no text describing the content, nor other descriptive matter.  Still the book is engaging and mystifying.  From my perspective it represents a “type” of current publications with similar printing and binding techniques, and content that has a potential of being profound, but is only interesting for one or two readings.

Dancing with Numbers by Erik Kessels.

Self published, 2012.


Dancing with Numbers, cover.


Dancing with Numbers, interior detail.


Banner’s books is sobering.  Using clippings from newspapers reinforces the elements of reporting ‘news’ to a general public audience.  There is a 2004 edition in addition to this printing in 2006.  Check out Bury’s essay for more details.

All the World’s Fighter Planes by Fiona Banner.

The Vanity Press, 2006.


All the World’s Fighter Planes, cover.


All the World’s Fighter Planes, interior detail.

**And essay by Stephen Bury.


Fire Guys makes me smile everytime I read/view it.  At first the content seems jarring or startling.  Also the fire fighter centerfold is perfect conceptually and culturally – initially unexpected and then reassuring in that the authors are clearly having a good time with this publication.

Fire Guys by Idan Hayosh and Corina Künzli.

Baden, Switzerland: Kodoji Press, c2011.


Fire Guys, cover.


Fire Guys, interior detail.

Synopsis: In this book of photographs, we see portraits of firefighters in unlikely repose; relaxed and smiling, they gather with one another in front of houses fully ablaze. The juxtaposition is jarring, irreverent, but ultimately hilarious – for we quickly realize that the images are taken at sites of training and practice. — from Printed Matter web page.


What else can I say about Headrawings?  I think I selected this at random: it has photographs, is cheaply made, and the content is strait forward and unapologetic. The use of ‘press type’ labels is nice in that it references books and art works from a time when this labeling technology was readily available: the 1980s.

Headrawings by David Stairs.

English Language Press, 2010.


Headrawings, cover.


Headrawings, interior detail.


This book by Zimmermann is very popular.  Zimmerman successfully integrates form and content in this tour de force of an artist book, photo-book.  His use of Heidi Kyle’s book structure is well conceived.  And tough it is delicate it is not precious.  See the author summary below…

Nature Abhors by Philip Zimmermann.

Spaceheater Editions, 2003.

Nature Abhors cover

Nature Abhors, cover.

Nature Abhors detail

Nature Abhors, interior detail.
Author summary: “My book entitled Nature Abhors is about loss, the inevitable by-product and, (perhaps pessimistically) the final result of love. In the past four years I have had a great deal of loss in my life. This book is a rumination on what loss has meant for me personally and also what I have found has been a more universal feeling of loss since 9.11. It is determinedly not about that disaster but more about the zeitgeist since that world-changing event.” — Bookseller’s Website.  The structure of the book is based on a model developed by Claire Van Vliet from a form originally created by Hedi Kyle. To be read through on one side, then on the reverse.  Accordion-folded, each sheet affixed to the next with paper tabs illustrated with reproductions of x-rayed segments of spinal vertebrae on one side and drawn illustrations of spinal vertebrae on the other side. Housed in illustrated slipcase numbered by the artist. The whole is housed in a grey corrugated cardboard box with illustrations from the book collaged on the top and side; also numbered by the artist. Produced at the Border Art Residence, in beautiful La Union, New Mexico. – from back cover.



Death of an Infant by Lydia Howard Sigourney.

Lock and Key press, n.d.


Death of an Infant, cover.


Death of an Infant, interior detail.



Ruth on the Phone by Nigel Shafran.

Roma Publications, 2012.


Ruth on the Phone, cover.


Ruth on the Phone, interior detail.

“A series of chronologically ordered photographs taken between 1995 and 26th January 2004, the book takes the form of a novel without words. The sequence shows Ruth, first at the end of the telephone receiver, later on a cordless phone, the one constant as time and place change around her.” –



Space + Time by Ken Leslie

Nexus Press, 2002.


Space + Time, cover.


Space + Time, detail.

Space + Time is Ken Leslie’s project where he marked off 52 equally spaced points from one place in his garden, then sitting in the same spot, shot a photo once a week facing each successive point & created a circular foldbook. The book is housed in a slipcase featuring a photo of the photos joined together.” JCBA, Jaffe Center for Book Arts blog.



Spaces by Telfer Stokes and Helen Douglas.

Weproductions, 1974.


Spaces, cover.


Spaces, interior detail.

“This series of paperbacks published between 1972-1978 constitute early and original works in the development of the genre Artists’ Books / Book Art. Locating the book as structured place with the use of photography, the artists investigate imagery in relation to the page and the book format to develop new ways of reading. Primarily visual with embodied texts the books construct time-based and specialised narratives within the sequencing of pages.” — Weproductions website.



Steve + Sky by Felix van Groeningen.

Imschoot Uitgevers, 2004.


Steve + Sky, cover.


Steve + Sky, interior detail.

“Glossy pages of photographs by Fred Debrock based on a film by Felix van Groeningen. The images depict sordid tales of love, obession, loss and sex. Set in streets, bars and shabby apartments the photographs play with the line between truth and fiction.” — Art Metropole website.



Wrongly Bodied: Documenting Transition from Female to Male by Clarissa T. Sligh.

Philadelphia, PA Leeway Foundation, c2009.


Wrongly Bodied, cover.


Wrongly Bodied, detail.

Wrongly bodied came out of photographing Jacob McBee in transition from female to male and William Craft’s book, Running a thousand miles for freedom, first published in London in 1860 by William Tweedie, twelve years after Ellen and William Craft’s escape from Georgia.”–P. 8.

Summary: Wrongly Bodied Two (2004) weaves together the stories of two people. One chronicles Jake’s modern day evolution from female to male. His experience is juxtaposed with that of Ellen Craft, a 19th century black woman who escapes slavery by passing as a white man. While photographing Jake’s transition, Sligh became conscious of society’s psychological response to the transgressive act of changing one’s identity and recalling Ellen Craft’s journey to freedom, Sligh confronts her own fears of crossing the taboo boundaries of gender, race and class.

Contents: Introduction — Jake in transition from female to male : Ellen and William Craft’s escape from slavery — Jake’s transition time line — Jake’s support group – March 28, 1999 — Essays — Jake in transition from Female to Male series or, through the mirror and what Clarissa found there by Carla Williams — Women in transition (from female to male) (Translated from Italian) by Silvia Roncucci — Afterword — How I met Jake by Clarissa Sligh — Bibliography — Exhibitions.

All photographs of these “Eye Candy” books were photographed by Art Soontornsaratool for the book arts catalog at Decker Library, Maryland Institute College of Art, as reference images only.

Photo Books: Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin

Posted by on Dec 19, 2013 in Tony White | No Comments

This week I was referred to two books by the duo Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin.

On Monday one of the staff here in Decker Library suggested that we try to purchase a copy of “War Primer 2″ by Broomberg & Chanarin. I will admit that I had not previously heard about either artist but was immediately intrigued. This URL was forwarded for my review:
I encourage you to check it out and listen to the 2 minute audio description of the book project by the artists. Especially interesting is their critique of AP copyright policies — one that any author who has sought permissions to publish images in articles or books, will be quite familiar with.

War Primer 2” was published in an edition of 100 and is currently out of print.


However, there is a FREE ebook version available:


Then on Wednesday while at lunch with the Curator and Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Baltimore Museum of Art, they shared with me that they had recently acquired a copy of “Holy Bible” by Broomberg & Chanarin. This book is available for purchase from MACK Books (

Oliver Chanarin & Adam Broomberg
Holy Bible



Below is the copy pulled from the MACK website:

“Right from the start, almost every appearance he made was catastrophic… Catastrophe is his means of operation, and his central instrument of governance.”
Adi Ophir

Violence, calamity and the absurdity of war are recorded extensively within The Archive of Modern Conflict, the largest photographic collection of its kind in the world. For their most recent work, Holy Bible, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin mined this archive with philosopher Adi Ophir’s central tenet in mind: that God reveals himself predominantly through catastrophe and that power structures within the Bible correlate with those within modern systems of governance.

The format of Broomberg and Chanarin’s illustrated Holy Bible mimics both the precise structure and the physical form of the King James Version. By allowing elements of the original text to guide their image selection, the artists explore themes of authorship, and the unspoken criteria used to determine acceptable evidence of conflict.

Inspired in part by the annotations and images Bertolt Brecht added to his own personal bible, Broomberg and Chanarin’s publication questions the clichés at play within the visual representation of conflict.


MAPP Editions


If you are interested in viewing other ebooks checkout MAPP editions:

The tide is turning for the online or digital ebooks in art and design.  With a continued reliance on print books for high quality color images for study, research, and teaching, digital books have a long way to go.  Yet, new publishers are developing new content to meet the greater use and desire for content delivery to mobile devices.

Baltimore Publications & Multiples Fair 2014: Save the Date

Posted by on Dec 11, 2013 in Tony White | No Comments

Please mark your calendars and plan to visit Baltimore for the coming Publications & Multiples fair, March 7-9, 2014.  There will be a vendor fair (they are still taking applications), and programming including talks, and possibly workshops, etc.  More information will be posted in early 2014.

Baltimore Publications & Multiples Fair

Baltimore Publications & Multiples Fair

This is a dynamic event that has doubled in size each year, and this year will be the best fair yet.  For now here is a link to the Tumblr page:  Check the page or contact Open Space Baltimore if you have questions.

I Wanna Be a Cowboy

Posted by on Dec 3, 2013 in Tony White | No Comments


“Montarias Altamente Perigosas / Highly Dangerous Rides” by Something Always press.  Introducao / Introduction by Tiao Carreiro e Paradinho. Imagens / Pictures by Guilherme Gehreke Maiera’s Archives. Arte / Art by Gabriel Finotti.  Co-published by Melo-melo press. Edition number 58 of 100.

Dual language Portuguese and English.  The English will be provided for this entry.

This book includes 131 low-res black images on the neutral background of the paper stock.  The resolution quality is that of a low grade riso graph.  The images vary from full two-page spreads, to an image on each page, to two-up, three-up, four-up, and up to eight-up per page.  The content is all similar: a man “riding” a statue of an animal, a fish, a stuffed animal, a sculpture of an animal, etc. , etc.  The locations are from Wall Street, to Chinatown, to a rodeo fair ground, to road side attractions.  The book ends with the epigraph: “If you ain’t cowboy, you ain’t shit.”

This publication is fun, entertaining, banal, and engaging.  Compared to the publications in the previous posting, this books gets picked up and reread over and over by people who stop by.  If you can find a copy, check it out.

Cowboy, detail

“Wistful Cowboy Life”

From my cowboy life only memories I have saved

The cowboys shouting and the horn calling the herd

The warm afternoons in August sweat covering my face

From a place to another on the long road

Only God giving his grace.


In Mato Grosso state I was still a babe but I had courage

I face Pantanal, living the ingernal, lacing savage

Allong with my fellows cruel pantaneiros we took from there

In a dangerous path, meeting the death everywhere.


Step-by-step the herd a wild jaguar sometimes followed

Wishing to killer her hunger and the smell of the human the beast dreaded

The sound of the wily horn lazy walk from the tired crew

It was brutal, but I miss what we went through.


By leaving the road it felt to my heart a strong poison

My soft hammock where I use to nod until the quiet

Express cowboys left the pioneer boys with the life upside down

No more horns, elegant transports.

Do you read me, too.

Posted by on Nov 30, 2013 in Tony White | No Comments

img039 img040

img041 img042

img037 img038

img055 img056

Do you read me?

Posted by on Nov 30, 2013 in Tony White | No Comments


img023 img024

img027 img028

img045 img046

img025 img026


Holiday Reading: Look, Browse, Read, Think…Rest

Posted by on Nov 22, 2013 in Tony White | No Comments

For leisurely holiday reading next week I would suggest picking up a copy of Sigrid Calon’s new book “Within the Grid and Beyond the Pattern: 120 Compositions in Form & Colour,” stencil printed on RISO. While not a photobook, the process used to make and print this books is a “photo” copy technology. The copy in hand is edition number 189 of 420. On the dust jacket turn-in around the back board the author includes the following description:
“This work arose out of my fascination for a grid. An embroidery grid, to be precise, with a minimal basic grating of 3 x 3 dots. With these dots, 8 different (embroidery) stitches can be made: one horizontal, one vertical, one 45 degrees to the right, one 45 degrees to the left, one 26.5 degrees to the right, one 26.5 degrees to the left, one 63.5 degrees to the right, and one 63.5 degrees to the left.” Following a discussion about lines as they are translated by a computer, there is a discussion of the unique qualities of the Risograph copier (the effect of screen printing with the ease of photocopying). She continues, “I have chosen to work with 8 colours: fluorescent pink, blue, orange, brown, yellow, green, black and red. … The colour combinations have been teh starting point for the book. 8 colours generate 28 two-colour combinations and 56 three-clolur combinations. Four-colour combinations make 72 options appear. Out of these I have made a selection of 28 so as to have a good basic combination of 4 compositions per A3. Each colour combination in this book appears only once.” There is a brief note about gradations and layers.

Sigrid Calon

Sigrid Calon, page detail

Sigrid’s book is a great introduction to color and color processes is a perfect segue to my second title for holiday reading or browsing: “Color: American Photography Transformed,” by John Rohrbach with an essay by Sylvie Penichon. Published by the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and the University of Texas, Austin, and The William & Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture of the Western Hemisphere.

American Color

The table of contents include: Forward by Andrew J. Walker, Introduction, One: inventing color photography, Two: defining color (1936-1970), Three: Using color (1970-1990), Four: interrogating color (1990-2010), from potatoes to pixels: a short technical history of color photography, list of plates, bibliography, acknowledgments, Index. Color reproductions throughout are all very high quality, and the book itself is over sized, allowing for enjoyment of large images. An excellent book.

For those of you who are less interested in an artist book, or in a large coffee table book, you might aim for something a little more cerebral: “Minor Photography: Connecting Deleuze and Guattari to Photography Theory,” edited by Mieke Bleyen, published by Leuven University Press, 2012. The book is broken up into three parts.


Part 1: Towards a Theory of the Minor
“From Stuttering and Stammering to the Diagram: Towards a Minor Art Practice?”
Simon O’Sullivan
“Tichy as a Maverick: Singular figure of a Minor Photraphy?”
Gilles Rouffineau
“Always in the Middle: the Photographic work of Marcel Marien. A Minor Approach”
Mieke Bleyen

Part 2: Major Artists – Minor Practice?
“Fear of Reflections: the photoworks of Paul McCarthy”
Neil Matheson
“Considering the Minor in the Literary and Photographic works of Rodney Graham and Tacita Dean”
Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes
“Entertaining Conceptual Art: Dan Graham on Dean Martin”
Eric C.H. de Bruyn

Part 3: Surrealism in Variation
“Towards a Minor Surrealism: Paul Nouge and the Subversion of Images”
Frederic Thomas
“Conceptual Art and Surrealism: an Exceptional, Belgian Liaison”
Liesbeth Decan
“Systematic confusion and the total discredit of the world of reality: Surrealism and photography in Japan in the 1930s”
Jelena Stojkovic

Cheers! And have a great holiday week!

photobook, photo books, artists’ books, artists’ publishing, self publishing, independent publishing

Posted by on Nov 19, 2013 in Tony White | No Comments

So what’s in a name? Or more to the point, what’s in a descriptive phrase? How do we as curator’s, makers, and librarians parse the difference between new publications and publication types that build on the history of 20th century artists’ books and zines?

I have been puzzling over this for the past 15 years, more so in the past five. Ever since attending the second annual self published photobook and zine fair at CCNY, where I first saw artists blending genres, mixing up zines/artists books/photo books/magazines. Often each genre type was referred to or used by different artists though the format remained the same. Interesting and vexing. For the curator this was an interesting change or nuance within the publishing arena. As a library cataloger, of which I am not but work closely with, this was vexing to say the least. Drawing upon historic knowledge a self published or independently published work by an artist might be referred to as an artist book (by the artist/author). A publication of the same size, format, binding, and similar photographic content, by a photographer, might be called a photo book or photo zine. Or vice versa, or neither, or one or the other.

“Proving Ground” by Jason John Wurm, 2013, includes the following colophon note “All photographs were taken on and around the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.” And the copy in hand is number 7 of 20. A limited edition – borrowing the conventions from find printing, or printmaking. The format is that of an 8.5 x 11″, staple (2) bound pamphlet. Red card stock cover and white pages, each with a snapshot photograph, color laser printed recto and verso. Each page has a different image with large white borders. The images are unremarkable: interior and exterior images of domestic spaces, portraits, and snaps of people. I bought it for two reasons: one, it is from Maryland and my library is in Baltimore, so there is regional significance, and two, the publication is genre ambiguous. It could be a zine, it could be a photobook or photo zine, or it could be an example of artists’ publishing. Better yet, it could simply be self published or independently published.

Proving Ground

Proving Ground, detail

A similar work is by the New York artist Lindsey Castillo that is untitled, using color laser printed images and text, also taking advantage of 8.5×11″ sheets folded and stapled to make a pamphlet. She includes images of woman throughout in a washed out light gray and white, with two snaps of a young woman in work wear as a center fold, if that. The text is from the author’s resume and various rejection letters, with elements blackened out much like the CIA does with top secret documents. I selected this book, as with the previous title, because it falls into several genres. But also because it is representative of other works by artist’s documenting their experience in the workplace, or applying for jobs, rejection letters is also another theme in similar works from previous decades. This book, this artist, comments on their experience in this economy and job market; representing the current environment.


Lindsey Castillo, detail

A third such publication is “We Are All” by Cheryl Dunn. This little (insert genre term from above) publication is again a staple bound pamphlet book using color laser printer or similar technology to fix the images to the paper pages. All the images, again, rely on snapshots, most in color, some in black and white. For this book the images are of people, seemingly concert goers at a very large outdoor concert. Sex, drugs and rock and roll, might be another over used theme-description. Why did I  purchase this publication? Again, it is representative of a contemporary genre type recalling an amateur Nan Goldin, if you will, but without the , or what Roland Barthes refers to as the punctum, in his book Camera Lucida. Little photo books/zines like this are so common that many people pass them over, but they clearly are a sub genre unto themselves.

We Are All

We Are All, detail

To make this point, check out “11:15 / 21:09″ by Again, the format of a staple bound pamphlet binding on white 8.5×11” sheets folded in half. Color and black and white images in the shape of snap shots with generous white borders. The images are more aligned to those of “Proving Ground” but of an urban landscape in another country. Again, unremarkable overall. Yet, still compelling within its own sub genre.


11:15, detail

Stay tuned to this blog.  I will post further examples of similar works, but ones that differ in intent/content.