Photobooks of 2018: Miwa Susuda

Photobooks of 2018: Miwa Susuda

Zuisha by John Sypal
As an American born, Sypal has been exploring a mysterious maze in Tokyo for the last 14 years. Deliberately avoiding an analytical western approach, Sypal utilizes a less conceptual gaze in photography. The title of “Zuisha” is inspired by Donald Richie’s explanation of “Zuihitsu” a type of Japanese informal essay created through an approach where “the assumptions of the writer’s controlling mind that are not followed but, as the Japanese phrase it, the brush itself”. There are many photo books by westerners about Japan- the majority of them cynically observe Japan’s unique qualities as a main subject without expressing any deeper understanding of our culture. Those kinds of books are at best stereotypical and at worst, disrespectful. I admire Sypal’s work since I feel his sincere effort to correspond to Japan without easy judgement, demonstrating gratitude for every scene he come across. “Zuisha” achieves tranquility and peace for people who know.

43–35 10TH STREET by Daniel Shea
Creating a photo book on conceptual architecture is one of the hardest things among all subjects since it is likely to focus on the mechanical and systematic aspects of buildings themselves. Books like this can end up being fairly dry and less humanistic. Shea’s “43-35 10th Street” goes beyond our assumptions and stands as a unique and exciting collection of work. This book’s success comes from the understanding publisher/designer, Winfried Heininger has of Shea’s original concept, something into which he invested his creative insights to elevate it to an artful book. Such a thing is impossible without an artist’s trust in their publisher. This book is the result of a rare and beautiful collaboration.

Khichdi (Kitchari) by Nick Sethi
Being ingenuous and authentic is the hardest things to do in contemporary society. Indeed, our era is one where efficiency and popularity without any careful examination are most welcome and accepted. Avoiding an easy step that everybody follows, Sethi and designer Brian Paul Lamotte chose to go through financially, physically and mentally laborious paths to produced this book in India closely working with people who most understand their landscape, culture and society. The overlapping images shot on a variety of formats, from iPhones to film and digital cameras, will surely overwhelm you at first glance. The experience invades your expectations of how to appreciate photos in the traditional way. Sethi takes a step forward towards the next generation of photo books where anything and anyway is possible as long as you make sure that your intention and work stay real and true.

Looking Up Ben James, A Fable by John Gosssage
As a leading figure of the photobook world, Gossage has made another masterpiece. When Gossage kindly invited me to the opening reception of William Eggleston’s retrospective at Whitney Museum in Nov, 2008, he explained to me his admiration of Eugene Atget’s work. Just like Atget’s observation of Paris, Gossage’s keen eyes are deep in contemplation and remind us that taking a photo of reality is not only the most important and beautiful approach, but that it is also very hard to achieve success in.

Vape Shop Olympia by Peter De Potter
De Potter is a true artist who can express pure creation. Over the past 13 years I have taken care of over 18,000 titles at Dashwood but I rarely come across work that is as exciting as De Potter’s. De Potter’s “VAPE SHOP OLYMPIA” stands out since it is the result of his belief in what he experiences with his own eyes and body- something he is willing to take a risk in pursuit of a new expression. It is a courageous act as an artist and I celebrate his beautiful talents.

Voyagers by Melissa Catanese
Catanese is a marvelous editor who invests all her mind and soul into her book. You can’t help noticing how much she really cares about each image and it feels as real and lovely as Cantanse herself. As a publisher, I admire her respect for her work. Authenticity is alive in her book.

Map of Latin American Dream by Martin Weber
Argentinian-Chilean photographer Martín Weber’s investigation of Latin America is revolutionary. Full of respect and love for his subjects, it invites us to a new horizon of the metal landscapes of his subjects. Weber’s work can be compared with Irvin Penn’s “Worlds in a Small Room” because his models are staged- however it definitely conveys a warmer sympathy to each sitter and make us realize his people are just like ours. We are all equally holding on to our dreams and hopes.

Hot Mirror by Viviane Sassen
Without exception, a great photo book requires a successful collaboration between a photographer and designer. “Hot Mirror” is a wonderful example of this. Designer Irma Boom is a magician who can make anything possible while preserving the artist’s original intent in a project. This beautiful book must be reviewed by all people in the photo book world. I appreciate that their effort can elevate the future of photo books. We are fortunate to have such a charismatic figure as our ideal model.

Miwa Susuda is a publisher at Session Press, photobook consultant at Dashwood Books and writer/reporter for IMA magazine.

Images: top – Viviane Sassen – Hot Mirror, below John Gossage – Looking Up Ben James, A Fable