Photobooks of 2017: Rob Hornstra
This is a list for everyone who believes the world around us is more important than photography.
Laia Abril – On Abortion
I wonder when Laia Abril finally makes a book that does NOT fascinate me. In this book she documents the dangers and damage caused by women’s lack of legal, safe and free access to abortion. Once again a very appealing book thanks to the splendid cohesion between text, ephemera, photography and design.
Henk Wildschut – Ville de Calais
Henk Wildschut won the Arles Photo Book Award for Ville de Calais, about an informal refugee camp in the outskirts of Calais. It is one of the most powerful contemporary documents about the incapacity of the European Union to deal with the refugee crisis in Europe.
Mathieu Asselin – Monsanto®: A Photographic Investigation
What an extremely important document by Mathieu Asselin. Hard-hitting documentary of communities dramatically affected by the unscrupulous policies of Monsanto®. I hope it will encourage more storytellers to do projects around the unethical behavior of corporations.
Eline Benjaminsen – Where the money is made
Eline Benjaminsen reflects on how the financial market has abandoned all connection with the earth. The design of the 48-page publication refers to the Dutch financial newspaper’ Het Financieele Dagblad’ and tries to give insight into the invisibility and potential societal dangers of high frequency trading. It is bigger than you think and therefore you have to see her work.
Virginie Rebetez – Out of the Blue
Out of the Blue is a work with a tragic underlying narrative — the disappearance of the teenager. I stem a quotation from Colin Pantall, because it describes my feelings about the book: “It’s moving, a truly sad book that lays its tragedy down on the page, there for the reader to pick up. It’s a really good book I think. Really good.”
Nicolò Degiorgis – Prison Photographs
I have a weakness for artists who do projects in prisons with the aim of having detainees look differently at the world. And if a surprisingly interesting book emerges from this, it is absolutely admirable. Beautiful collaborative project leading to a fantastic book coordinated by Nicolò Degiorgis.
Donald Weber – War Sand
Donald Weber is a contemporary storyteller who balances on the line of fact and fiction, inspired by his grandfather who always told stories he didn’t know if they were true or not. War Sand is about D-Day on the beaches of Normandy. With this work, Donald Weber takes his seat at the table with authors describing the Second World War somewhere between Anthony Beevor and Quentin Tarantino.
Esther Hovers – False Positives
False Positives is about intelligent surveillance systems. An important project that creates awareness about the use of modern techniques that affect our privacy in public space. These are camera’s that are said to be able to detect deviant behavior within public space. Beautifully designed by Hans Gremmen.
Alexander Chekmenev – Passport
Alexander Chekmenev was one of the photographers commissioned early nineties to take passport photos in Luhansk of those who were elderly or ill. The people photographed were under the impression that only their faces would be used against a white background. More than twenty years later, this (articulated or unexpressed) promise was broken. Like everyone, I am fascinated by the poor interiors and people. At the same time, I feel like a voyeur, am I allowed to see this? Apparently… My most confounding photobook in 2017.
Chris Killip – In Flagrante II
When I graduated, my teacher Corinne Noordenbos gave me a Phaidon mini version of In Flagrante, a book I love so much that I don’t really have words for it. Long sold out and unaffordable. Now there is finally a beautiful reprint published by Steidl, making the work available again for a reasonable price. For a long time I hope. PS: I could have chosen another reprint here: Sleeping by the Mississippi by Alec Soth. Also for a long time out of print (but not as long as In Flagrante) and now available again thanks to Michael Mack.
Rob Hornstra, born in 1975 in the Netherlands, is a Dutch photographer of predominantly long-term documentary projects, both at home and around the world. He has published several books of solo work, produced documentary series for a variety of international magazines, and taken part in numerous solo and group exhibitions in the Netherlands and abroad. In 2009, Hornstra and writer/filmmaker Arnold van Bruggen started The Sochi Project, culminating in the retrospective book An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus and an exhibition that toured Europe, America, India and Canada. His new book and exhibition Man Next Door (2017) have recently been launched at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht. He is the founder and former artistic director of FOTODOK – Space for Documentary Photography. Four times per year he runs a popular live talkshow about photo books in his home town Utrecht. He is head of the photography department at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague.
Images: top – Laia Abril – On Abortion, below – Esther Hovers – False Positives, Nicolò Degiorgis – Prison Photographs