Photobooks of 2018: Brad Feuerhelm
I am excited to be part of the Photobookstore photobook list again for 2018. I did not make it to all of the fairs this year, but nonetheless, I am sending a huge thank you to all of those who sent us review material – IT IS APPRECIATED!
I think it has been a pretty successful year for publishing, though as ever there are more and more bits of utter non-compelling rubbish being made and I urge you to stop with half-measures and potty books. Please make your project count. All arrogance and gravitas aside, the following titles are not in hierarchical order after the first point and that is only for Viory so that she can meta-list onward.
1. This is a tie for me, no matter how I spin it. Carmen Winant’s “My Birth!” for Self Publish Be Happy and Raymond Meeks “Halfstory Halflife” (Chose Commune). Carmen’s book was incredibly necessary and immediate. The female form, pregnancy and archive, all principal topics for widening our spectrum of art and most importantly the work speaks massively about inclusion and the need to disengage body shaming from childbirth. For my own personal reflection Meeks’ book blew me away. The sensitivity and the return, amongst a few of his contemporaries such as Tim Carpenter and Ron Jude, to the path of “photographic seeing “ that we have set aside over the last 20 years for Google projects and other variable forms of unnecessary phenomena that already looks dated as fuck is refreshing and honest.
2. Michael Schmidt “Waffenruhe”. Koenig. There are a few books that need reprinting from the last 40 years or so, but Waffenruhe was probably the most necessary by German standards. The other is surely “Ahnung” by Volker Heinz (Come on, someone make it happen). Schmidt’s is one of the lasting legacies that nobody completely understands, but we can agree for the most part that Waffenruhe was probably his most important work at the end of his humanist period, where it twilighted with his abject cold phase. Brave enough to include subjects, but taking his barren cityscapes to the next level, Schmidt remains one of the most intriguing artists of the last forty years.
3. Gerry Johannson “American Winter”. MACK. If nothing else, this book is incredible for the sheer audacity of nailing every photograph in a large book of small images taken IN WINTER. It is another Johansson book on America that finds itself in the peculiar position of photographing a “nothingness” that speaks volumes about the current state of the empirical decline of the west, even if unintended.
4. Christopher Anderson “Approximate Joy”. If I only had two words to describe Anderson’s lush tome on Stanley/Barker it would be Beautiful Compression. Anderson creates a futuristic skin which functions with an oblique familiarity that creates doubt and possibility in each frame. We are left with questions about what is real, what is simulation and what is technologically fed to us as humankind. Or, it’s a pretty book about a Chinese city that did not exist 30 years ago, whichever, the book “slays” in metalhead terminology.
5. Ursula Schulz-Dornburg. “The Land In-Between”. MACK. Conceptual without being overly and dramatically German. Schulz-Dornburg’s work functions more as an anthropological model that that of typological one. It would be very easy to misread her terrain as being Becher-esque, but I challenge you that this notion is not only lazy, but in principal defies the magic, bravery and positive historical affirmations that her work presents. I cannot think of a project more important to the inheritance of the imagery from the Middle East in photographic terms, than what this catalogue presents to us.
6. Marie Quéau. “Handbook”. September Books. I do not usually pick up on small press books, but every once in awhile one crosses my path that I cannot ignore. Marie’s book is strange look into her fantasy-based world of images. If you follow her Instagram feed, you begin to see how the process is formed. It’s surreal without owing too much to a long-dead movement and plays with the way in which we view distribution of pictorial information, AI, technology and the growing concern for the synthesis between person and machine in an age where all is flux. Reminiscent of Asger Carlsen, but much more inventive in scope, the book is worth the investigation.
7. Berangere Fromont “Except the Clouds”. VOID. I’ve just finished my review for this and I will re-iterate that Fromont’s book is a necessary look at the crossroads that are starting to develop within the category of the much-vaunted (by me anyways) hubris of “Aesthetic Journalism”. I struggle with the idea of conceptual documentary and aesthetic journalism fiercely, but somehow after spending time with Fromont’s work, I found within a model that appeals to me. It speaks around a topic with sincerity, namely rioting in Athens under austerity and does so without gravitating too far from the topic, but without trying so desperately hard to rely on the narrative crutch or the technological one. Brief, smart and engaging.
8. Olivier Pin-Fat. MEAT. VOID. I wasn’t going to include this on any lists because I have a text in it and it is somewhat unfair because I am truly biased-truly biased in the sense that the physical object and Olivier’s difficult and brooding images are intense to say the least. It tackles issues that I have with other artists confrontationally and without any sort of grief or remorse and opens up larger discussions about how we “collect” images in front of us and the ones that we have shelved in the back of our mind. What a cover!!!!
9. Senta Simond. Rayon Vert. Kominek Books. The return of the body is coming! I have been at this long enough to know that since the 90’s, the use of the body in the context of art has been shuffled under the carpet a bit. Its nice to see a return and what is further refreshing is to see gesture and intimacy being afforded. This has much to do with female and other non-white male photographers being given more opportunity (still work to do, I realize) and more outlets to speak on their own positions, which builds an illuminating discourse while doing so. Senta had a big year and I think it is just the beginning.
10. I hate number 10. This is where I have to try and blindfold myself and pick only one of the 10 books that I want to include still. So instead, I’m going to cheat and since it’s the Internet, that should be ok. Here are the things that I am going to give a sincere nod to quickly…Ruth Van Beek “How to arrange the flowers” Paul Kooiker “Eggs and Rarities”, Sybren Vanoverberghe “2099”, Bruno V. Roels “The Pyramids and the Palm Tree Test”, Piergiorgio Castti and Emanuele Bruti “Index G”, Matthew Genitempo “Jasper” and Tim Carpenter and Nathan Pearce “Still Feel Gone”. Nicolas Polli “Ferox, The Forgotten Archives”. “In Quatra Persona” Errichiello & Menichetti. Also gravely important are Taco Hidde Bakker’s “The Photograph that Took the Place of a Mountain” and finally “Why Exhibit? Positions on Exhibiting Photographies” Edited by Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger and Iris Sikking. I have also not seen a number of books this year including the Kensuke Koike books, which I assume are immensely pleasurable.
Brad Feuerhelm is the Managing Editor of American Suburb X.
Images: top – Raymond Meeks – Halfstory Halflife, below – Carmen Winant – My Birth