Photobooks of 2016: Miwa Susuda

Photobooks of 2016: Miwa Susuda


Tenko by Hanayo and Hajime Sawatari
A rare collaboration between Hanayo and Hajime Sawatari, which began with Hanayo taking pictures of her daughter, Tenko as she grew up. At age 15, Tenko met Sawatari, and she has been one of his most important subjects for the past 5 years. As her mother, Hanayo’s gentle eyes fuse into her signature muted color palette and her work appears to be sentimental and nostalgic. In contrast, Sawatari treats Tenko as a real woman and captures her femininity and sensuality with a great respect. As if they are extending Sawatari’s legacy of “Shojo Arisu, (Alice)” (kawade shobo, 1973), the multi layers of gazes and intimacy by Hanayo and Sawatari bring up its own uniqueness and preciousness.


The City Beautiful by Martien Mulder
I truly admire Mulder as an industrious, passionate and inventive photographer, since she is extremely active in the commercial field but she pursues her personal projects persistently and tenaciously. For “The City Beautiful”, Mulder decided to study buildings designed by Le Corbusier in the city of Chandigarh in India, and she completed the challenging project after 4 years of work. Her fascination with the abstract and simple forms makes the cold concrete walls feel heartwarming, organic and lively. Her pictures can be compared with an early modernist painting by Arthur Dove or textile design by Sonia Delaunay. Equally important to point out is that Mulder’s sophisticated and rich photographic mind is successfully delivered only through Hans Seeger’s strong design vision.


While Leaves Are Falling by Takahiro Kaneyama
Even though we live in the world of global economy and media culture, each one of us strongly keeps our own traditions and upbringings. Family, language and religion still remain solid by passing down from an old generation to a new generation. The plurality and differences are a pure fact in the world, and we shouldn’t of course eliminate or ignore the different others. However, it seems that people tend to judge the others from their own standard, possibly for protecting their own comfort zones or not thinking about it attentively. Kaneyama’s family portraits evolve his mother’s mental illness happened over 15 years ago, and it is a very tough subject for many people to appreciate. Kaneyama’s book, however, tells that we don’t always need to be strong, energetic or happy, and that’s not a mark of failure or loss since negativity in life can keep you feeling warm and close to the somebody important in a genuine way, and being positive is not only way of being.


VOID by Yoshi Kametani and Naohiko Utagawa
VOID is an important concept in the eastern world and it is frequently referred to in many of the great Japanese literatures and art criticisms throughout history, including “Hōjōki” in 1212 by Kamono Chomei, “The Book of Tea” in 1906 by Tenshin Okakura and “In Praise of Shadows” in 1933 by Junichi Tanizaki. So I expected that this book would also show very serious and profound statements updated by two young artists, Kametani and Utagawa. It is, however, delightfully opposite from what I had anticipated. Their core idea is looseness and playfulness by avoiding a linear approach to the single-minded idea for what art should be. When I conducted an artist talk for “New Material” exhibition at Casemore Kirkeby Gallery last May, Utagawa explained he once wanted to become a lawyer and used to seek for absolute rightness, but he found there is really none, so he decided that he would rather regain the feelings of enjoyment and playfulness through his art practice. It seems to me that VOID is Kametani and Utagawa’s propaganda against today’s photo-art practice as approved by establishments like the art museums and educational institutions. I find their VOID refreshing and charming.


Gerard Petrus Fieret by Gerard Petrus Fieret
Enjoyment of the photobook means the whole experience with our senses, from time you first hold the books in your hands, taking the book from the slipcase and flipping through each page. The choice of papers, printing, editing and format of the book must all come together to realize the book as a beautiful art object, which “Gerard Petrus Fieret” has done brilliantly. That’s no wonder since it is co-published by Diane Dufour of Le BAL and Xavier Barral; as great partners, their book “Images of Conviction: The Construction of Visual Evidence” was selected the Best Photography Catalogue of the Year at Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation in 2015. I have been working at Dashwood for over 10 years, and it is a great pleasure to introduce such a beautiful book to our clients at the store.


Rome – Malibu by Ari Marcopoulos
With noticeable yet unsentimental intimacy, no one portrays contemporary city landscape more decisively than Ari Marcopoulos. His “Roma – Malibu” marks his agitation against the remains of the old Roman empire and stiff history which European nations have clung to for ages. Without any forced feeling or obvious aggression, it suggests his protest against things or people that remain senseless and visionless, as well as his resistance against empty establishment or a known creed prevalent in society. A beautiful book design by Roma Publications perfectly presents Marcopoulos’ introspective vision.


Love & Hate & Other Mysteries by Thierry Struvay
This found image book starts from a marvelous introduction by Glenn O’Brien and I feel in love with this book especially because of his words. He states that “these pictures, did we take them to remember or did we take them to forget? Do you recall or did you ever know? Who are these people? And why? Why my cave? Is this a memorial or a mnemonic? Eternity or oblivion, what’s the difference? There’s a thin line between love and hate.” We are such complex creatures that it is ridiculous to nail down our psychology into one or another category. I adore this small book since it feels almost like a love letter or poetry I wrote in my teens, innocently silly, serious and lovely.


The Epic Love Story of a Warrior by Peter Puklus
When I first opened this book, I was stunned by its Europeaness, something that we Japanese would never be able to express. I clearly see the whole history of European art from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day represented in Puklus’ work, including Hans-Peter Feldmann’s found photos, Frantisek Drtikol’s composition and light/shadow, Viviane Sassen’s fascination with abstract forms, and Shirana Shahbazi’s color palette. Puklus is a Hungarian artist working in Brooklyn and Budapest, and finishing a DLA degree (Doctor of Libreral Arts) in photography at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, Budapest (MOME). I truly believe that he will further develop and explore the art of photography in Europe as a biggest vehicle and more people will notice his practice very soon.


Surveillance Index Edition One by Mark Ghuneim (editor)
It evolves the 100 photo books relating to surveillance photography that Mark Ghuneim, a collector and curator, has archived for more than 10 years. His design team, Studio Lin, decided to graphically index his collection by year, title, photographer, descriptions, size and codes. Surveillance is such an important topic in photography and art right now and Ghuneim also worked as a co-curator with Charlotte Cotton of an on-going exhibition, “Public, Private, Secret” at ICP in NYC. This functions not only a very important reference for students in design and art history but also feels very precious as an art object since the design of the book creatively incorporates Ghuneim’s original idea.


Conor Donlon by Wolfgang Tillmans
This title must be regarded as one of Tillmans’s most personal works and I really like it very much. Unlike his conceptual work in “Abstract Pictures” or “Concorde”, this documentary work shows his delicate, sincere and pure attentions to people around him. I can tell that Tillmans really enjoyed editing these images of his friend, Conor, for this book project. I think that this book should be one of the best friendship books that I shall highly recommend to my clients at Dashwood this holiday season.


Miwa Susuda is Photobook Consultant at Dashwood Books, New York. She is Director of Session Press, introducing new work by contemporary Japanese and Chinese artists and lectured “Japanese Photography Book” at Visual Studies Workshop in 2016.  As a contributing writer to Fraction Magazine Japan and diaSTANDARD, she interviewed Alec Soth, Mitch Epstein, Jim Goldberg, Jason Nocito, Michael Schmelling, Nick Waplington and Andreas Laszlo Konrath.  Her writing includes “Photography and Language” for 10 x 10 American Photobook catalogue, “On Daido” for the exhibition catalogue for the 6th International Fotobookfestival in Kassel, Germany and “Ryan McGinley” and “Photojournalism and Photobook” in IMA Magazine, among many others. She is also a New York reporter for IMA Magazine and JP_EN 02 Special Judge for Einstein Studio in Tokyo.


Images – top: Whiles Leaves Are Falling by Takahiro Kaneyama, below: Surveillance Index Edition One by Mark Ghuneim (editor)


Surveillance Index