Books


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Michelle Dunn Marsh has been in the world of book publishing for 20 years. She and her partners have recently launched a new company, Minor Matters, that is printing under a non-traditional model, sort of print-on-demand. Books are $50 and they only go into print once a minimum of 500 buyers have committed. 

Why 500 people?
"We are interested in cultural resonance and in community. It is our belief that if we cannot generate a minimum audience of 500 people willing to commit $50 for the project to exist as a book, then the work may find its public life in other forms. A minimum of 500 orders at $50 is a break-even financial proposition."

In a recent interview Marsh said "Aperture is the right fit for some, Taschen or Chronicle are the right fits for others. I'm not looking to do books that are going to sell 10,000 copies, frankly. We've developed a more boutique model. It's not about taking away from what those institutions are doing, it's about adding to it."

The first 500 people who purchase are even listed within the book and each title will be given six months to reach the target 500+.

Fancy a Larry Fink book? Go put down your dosh now! 

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© Isatou

'See What I See,' part of The Gambia Media and Design Project, is "a collection of personal photographic insights into African life through the eyes of 18 Gambian students. The photographs are a result of several photography workshops that took place in The Gambia, organised and taught by Jessica Bishopp. After the workshops all the students were given an open brief and a disposable camera to use over four days and 'See What I See' is the result!"

The photographs were exhibited in London in September 2013, the exhibition was funded by O2 Telefonica and the London College of Communication. The photographs are also published in a photobook, 'See What I See' is £20 with proceeds to Gambian charities.


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© Ismaila

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© Lamin

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'Respecting My Elders - Age and the Creative Spirit' is Ellen Wallenstein's self-published book  (print ($25) and digital ($5) of wonderful portraits of 30 people over 80 years old who have affected the American culture. I took the easy route and asked for the women. 

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Photographer Editta Sherman (1912 - 2013) at 97 © Ellen Wallenstein
"I tried to improve my work each day, read books and photography magazines to become more proficient in my work. I have always been curious and interested in what's going on in the world. I enjoy conversing with other people who are creative also." (written to Wallenstein)

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Journalist Ruth Gruber (b. 1911) at 99 
Motivation: "The search for truth." Philosophy: "Never Retire!" Advice: "Let no obstacles stop you." (to Wallenstein)

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Author Bel Kaufman (b. 1911) at 100
"Words of wisdom? Words of common sense: Provided you are healthy (a huge proviso) you can have a long and interesting old age. The problems and insecurities of youth are in the past, children are grown and on their own, this is the time to do not what you always had to do but what you want to do. You can be creative, productive, helpful, even inspiring or simply content to be privileged to live in a world which is changing every day." (to Wallenstein)

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Actor and activist Judith Malina (b. 1926) at 84
"Tremble: your whole life is a rehearsal for the moment you are in now." (Quote)

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Author Francine duPlessix Gray (b. 1930) at 80
"We write out of revenge against reality, to dream and enter the lives of others." (Quote)

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Photographer Rosalind Solomon (b. 1930) at 80
"Artists must be in touch with life, create frame-works and find the freedom to express themselves within their personal structures. As long as I have eyes, ears, hands, feet and sanity, I will improvise and keep moving. I advise young artists to do the same. This is a matter of essence, not age." (to Wallenstein)

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Painter Lois Dodd (b. 1927) at 83
"Be stubborn and follow your own voice." (to Wallenstein)

 
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Photographer Rebecca Lepkoff (b. 1916) at 92
"Avoid trends. Think for yourself. Think of a project that you w ould like to concentrate on, and spend time developing it. Time passes. Will it be of interest 49 years from now?" (to Wallenstein)

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Designer Jeanyee Wong at 90
"If you love what you do, you get better at it.... The more you learn the more interesting life is." (to Wallenstein)

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Designer Eva Ziesel at 102
The pleasure of making things useful or beautiful involves your feelings as well as your thinking. When your original sketch evolves into a tangible, three-dimensional object, your heart is anxiously following the process of your work. And the love involved in making it is conveyed for those whom you made it." (Quote)

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Painter Sylvia Sleigh at 94
"What do you think about rivalry between women? It's divide and rule anyway. I mean if you set women against each other, then you're going to be able to dominate them much more than if they're together. You see our strength now is to love one another and appreciate one another and defend one another." (to Wallenstein)

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Pigeon Fright, Italy, 1956

'Europe in the Fifties. Through a Soldier's Lens' is a book of photographs by Bill Perlmutter, a soldier with the US army who traveled through Europe beginning in 1954. The photographs were presented for the first time earlier this year by the German house of seltmann+söhne who are thrilled to announce that the book just won silver in the prestigious Deutscher Fotobuchpreis. You can buy a copy of 'Europe in the Fifties' directly from them, for 40 Euros. Nice Christmas present if anyone's thinking of getting me something. 

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G.I. baby, Germany, 1955

"It all started in December 1954, when the then 27-year old soldier boarded a troop carrier to Germany, to start his new assignment as a photographer for the U.S. Army magazine. The first images from Perlmutter's Rolleiflex originated during the rough Transatlantic passage. Even though he had never left his home country and was a bit apprehensive about his future, Perlmutter was "looking forward to photographing Europe and visiting all those wonderful places that I had read about and seen in the movies." 

Almost 60 years after the images were conceived, they clearly document the photographer's sense of the special moment. Every single image becomes a lively piece in the puzzle of remembrance, reporting accurately on the historical period, but also capturing very personal encounters. His insightful work has a long lasting effect, way and allows those pictures to come alive. Again and again. Even after all those many years."

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Street Musicians, Paris, 1955

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Woman Reading in the Park, Paris, 1956

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Open Wide, Germany, 1955

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A Kiss on the Hand, Paris, 1956

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Man With Dark Glasses, Italy, 1956

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Bill Perlmutter was born in New York on September 5, 1932. He began his career with a Bachelor of Arts in Motion Picture Techniques from the City College Film Institute in New York. In 1954 after graduating from the United States Army Photography School, he spend two years in Europe as a staff photographer for the U.S. Army newspapers based in West Germany. Since then he traveled extensively all around the world as a free-lance photographer. From 1978-1997 he worked as the Vice President of Rainbow Chromes, a company specializing in photographic and digital retouching.

Many thanks to seltmann+söhne for providing such great images for press. Glück!
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Aglu make pocket photobooks - collectable little marvels, costing £5. One of their current releases, 'Ghost Ships,' features images made in artist Simon Jones' old house and "takes us on a voyage of discovery through frayed carpets and other domestic hazards." 

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Jones makes "photographic artworks about memory, which usually involves the creation of small dioramas captured on location with a single exposure." 

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Along side the books, Aglu offer small-run limited edition prints. They publish six books per year and are interested in submissions.





Klaus Pichler's photographs from 'Skeletons in the Closet,' his project made in the Museum of Natural History, Vienna, from 2008 - 2011, are entertaining and at times baffling. He got the idea to gain access to the storage areas after he caught a glimpse into the museum's basement one night where he saw "an office with a desk, a computer, shelves and a stuffed antelope."  

Klaus has now self-published a limited edition book of the work. Every page is a winner and I love its format: small, square, utilitarian grey cardboard cover, but with a round window and a bear peeping through. Just €35! 

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All images © Klaus Pichler

Be sure to check out Klaus' other work, not least of all 'One Third,' about food waste, and 'Dust,' which turns collections of fluff into beautiful still life photos.

Also check out Klaus' early aCurator feature, 'Middle Class Utopia.'

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Bengie inside the candy store © Bruce Davidson, courtesy Seven Stories Press

"Bobby's Book," (Seven Stories Press, 2012) is about the life of Bob Powers (aka Bengie), a skinny, asthmatic kid born into a large Irish family in Brooklyn in the early 1940s. Bob tells his graphic tales of growing up dirt poor to alcoholic parents; about the Catholic school that overlooked him; becoming a drug addict; marriages, kids; making millions from meth, hitting the bottom and climbing up clean to become a drugs counselor. 

Bruce Davidson met Bob and his gang in 1959 and began photographing them where they hung out making major trouble in South Brooklyn. Forty years after Davidson finished that project, he received a phone call from Powers, and ultimately, over the next ten years, Powers told his story to Bruce's wife, the adorable and brilliant Emily Haas Davidson. 

This book is an easy and extremely engaging read (I knocked it off in a couple of hours) even if the subject matter is sometimes tough going. Bob's redemption in his own eyes, and of those family members willing to forgive him, however, is entirely uplifting and in a perfect ending, his ability to help others escape their own entrapment is truly heartening.


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Bengie combing his hair outside the candy store

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Under the boardwalk at Bay Twenty-two. Left to right: Norman, Junior, Willie, Henry

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On the beach at Coney Island

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Bengie in "the hole" at Eighteenth Street and Eighth Avenue

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Bengie's mother, Mary "May," across from the Holy Name church on Prospect Avenue

All images © Bruce Davidson, courtesy of Seven Stories Press.

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Xhosa huntsman with lynx # I, South Africa © David Chancellor/INSTITUTE

Elyse Weingarten reviews the extremely impressive book Hunters, a photographic essay by David Chancellor (text by Bill Kouwenhoven. Published by the good people at Schilt, March 2013)

"If I am rabid, I am equal to what is outside." Paula Fox, Desperate Characters.



Photographer David Chancellor's book, Hunters, explores the psychology of the hunter, documenting the safaris that comprise the big game trophy industry in southern Africa. The book is divided into two parts, the first containing over a hundred full-page photographs set deep in the African wildlife; among them, portraits of hunters and huntresses posing with their prey, in the instant after the kill. It is this exigent moment - and the hope for what it could reveal - that propelled Chancellor to join hunting safaris with seasoned, lifelong hunters throughout his adopted country of South Africa, and Namibia and Zimbabwe. Each kill is a "trophy," and the rarer the species, the better. 

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Bow hunters in blind, Eastern Cape, South Africa

The question this book begs is "why?" Why have these hunters come all the way from their home countries to hunt animals they know to be dangerous and endangered, and come back again and again? It seems that the rush of the kill is what is being sold. The ultimate freedom is to kill, and with a hunting license, death becomes the ultimate commodity. The absence of blood on the photographed hunters, except for the occasional shirt or the ceremoniously blood-smeared face, is conspicuous. In this very lucrative business, death is sanitized.  

The second part of the book contains the breathtaking photo narrative, "Elephant Story," taken near a national park in Zimbabwe. Here, the thrill of big game hunting is replaced by the consumption of game meat by a local population. The twelve photographs of this series sequentially show villagers descend upon a dead elephant and skin it, collecting the flesh for meat until all that is left are skeletal remains and bloody chunks of unusable innards. In contrast to the hunters who visit and use the gaming industry as a spiritual or aesthetic gain, those who crowd around the elephant's body are just another part of the sustainability of the natural environment. They do not shy from the blood of the animal. Here, in this landscape, death is not tidy. -  Elyse Weingarten

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Huntress, skinners and a nyala, Eastern Cape, South Africa

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Hunter and wife, game farm, Eastern Cape, South Africa

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Huntress with impala, Eastern Cape, South Africa

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Novice hunter with cell phone and blesbok, Eastern Cape, South Africa

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Novice hunter with recovered bullet, Bray, Northern Cape, South Africa

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Huntress with buck, South Africa. Winner of the Taylor Wessing portrait prize 2010, National Portrait Gallery, London

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Fallen giraffe, Somerset East, Eastern Cape, South Africa

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Elephant detail # II, Zimbabwe

All images © David Chancellor/INSTITUTE

David Chancellor, born in London, England, works and lives in South Africa. Many thanks go to David, to his agency INSTITUTE and to Schilt Publishing.

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It would be hard to be anything but moved by Joshua Lutz' latest project, "Hesitating Beauty," in which Lutz tries to convey the far-reaching impact that his mother's extreme mental illness had during and after her lifetime. 

"Blending family archives, interviews, and letters with his own photographic images, Lutz spins a seamless and strangely factual (yet unflinchingly fabricated) experience of a life and family consumed by mental illness. Rather than showing us what it looks like, "Hesitating Beauty" plays with our conceptions of reality to show us what it feels like to grapple with a family member's retreat from lucidity." ClampArt

I encourage you to listen to Joshua's moving interview with American Public Radio. Excellent reviews in American Suburb X and Mother Jones

'Hesitating Beauty' will be on exhibition at ClampArt from April 11th to May 16th, 2013. The book from Schilt Publishing is out now.


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This is the first book review from guest contributor Elyse Weingarten, a freelance writer living in New York. 

From Schilt Publishing, photographer Louisa Marie Summer's book, 'Jennifer's Family,' is an intimate offering, capturing the experiences of twenty-six year old Jennifer, a second-generation Puerto Rican, her partner, Tompy, and their four children, at their home in South Providence, an urban area rife with poverty, crime, and high levels of unemployment. 


Summer spent over a year with the family, and the results are confounding; in photographs of highly concentrated colors, it is not so much the stark details of the family's life that come into view, but the domestic heroism of Jennifer and Tompy, with their hands-on parenting and ability to survive economically, while often supporting other family members and friends. 

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With a few exceptions, the photographs in 'Jennifer's Family' were taken in the family's apartment, and at times, there seems to be little variation in theme. In photo after photo, children run through the apartment's cluttered rooms. This is one of the ways in which the book triumphs: life in the domestic realm is repetitious, and its recurrence only adds to the book's rightful claustrophobia. We can see how hard Jennifer and Tompy fight to give their children childhoods, and see how much they hope that if they fight hard enough, they can leverage their children into the next generation's middle class. 

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With 64 images and text by Mairead Bryne, this book is good for multiple viewings. 

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(I met Louisa Marie at an ASMP portfolio review two years ago, and I am thrilled to see this book as a result of a project that she had completed with such spirit. - Ed.)

All images © Louisa Marie Summer. Review by Elyse Weingarten.

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