Photobooks of 2019: Gabriela Cendoya

Photobooks of 2019: Gabriela Cendoya

Like every year I think it’s so hard for me to do a list. Choosing one leads me to another, and leaving another one behind is a small torture. This list is too long I am sure, sorry for that, but I can’t succeed in making it shorter. It is also a good exercise, among the many books, to see the ones that really count at the end of the year in a very different way, so…

The Gray Line by Laura Rodari
First book by Italian photographer Laura Rodari, and a beautiful come back from Akina books. For me The gray line is a visual poem on melancholy, on the thin line between darkness and light there is in all of us, in nature or in aging. It is an experimental poem on life sadness and tenderness. There is hope in melancholy, as much as there is light next to darkness, and it is beautiful.

So It Goes by Miho Kajioka
The new book by Miho Kajioka is another beautiful one. More abstract than So, where did the peacocks go? it is a journey through the idea of time, memory and location, using fragments of life and repetition. A very delicate book.

A las 8 en el Bar Eugeni by Salvi Danés
Salvi Danés is back with a masterpiece in a very short run of 100 copies. In a very cinematic way, photographies from the now closed prison La Modelo of Barcelona and its surroundings show a dull, brown, claustrophobic and out of time Spain. Already a classic book, I hope it will be reedited in a larger edition.

The Pillar by Stephen Gill
Another astounding book by Stephen Gill, beautifully produced. Gill is a modest master on experimental photography as well as a poet, observing and revealing the wild so close to our life.

Regarding you and me. Six attempts to get closer to my father by Marijn J. Kuiper.
Without any doubts a beautiful discovery for me. This book is simple yet rich and meaningful, emotional with restraint, it deals with connection with identity, with drama such as death, the loss of a father and being a transgender with so little pathos but yet so effective and true. Six chapters that made me cry every time I read them: VI. Becoming older than you ever were…

Borders of Nothingness by Margaret Lansink
Margaret, who is recipient of the Hariban Award this year, prize has another great book just released, The kindness of one, but this one is very special, dealing with loss and the difficult relationship and understanding between close persons, like her daughter. Pictures of the body and the landscape mend in a very delicate way with the beautiful japanese paper. The book is a little gem.

Orion by Christopher de Béthune
I almost forgot his book by Belgian photographer Christopher de Béthune, published earlier this year. Yet it is a very dear one, beautifully published by Origini Edizioni. Dark, dreamy, painful and poetic, it is a strong and sensitive book.

Maria by Lesia Maruschak
The Canadian artist, with Ukrainian origins, builds a multiple work on the 1932 Ukrainian Holodomor- genocide. Maria- the book- tells the story through the eyes and voice of Maria, a young survivor. Maria is also the memory of the people, ghosts in Lesia’s photographs. Her photography is a voice from a forgotten landscape, from a nearly extinguished generation. A very impressive and beautiful book.

Entrance to Our Valley by Jenia Fridlyand
An extraordinary book and delicate and beautiful object. Jenia portrays a land, a home, a family, in an elegiac way. It is not new or revolutionary photography but it is wonderful, sensitive and true. This book really moves me. Already sold out I am afraid, look for it if you can.

Family by Masahisa Fukase
For me this is an extraordinary reprint, as I didn’t have the original one. Family is such an amazing piece of work, made during almost a lifetime. It is a family, highly personal work as well as a photographic tour de force. It is about time, about love and hate and death and about memory and what photography can do about it. It is hopeless and sublime.

Hereafter by Federico Clavarino
A great and important book by one of my favorite photographers. Federico Clavarino deals with family archive and History, a difficult but exciting matter when your family has had an important role in Colonialism and the British Empire. Looking back on his own family story makes it emotional and sincere still being highly honest. A rich, complex and demanding book I keep on reading.

Beyond time by Julie van der Vaart
Julie van der Vart made this book with Void during a « Battlezine »workshop at the Tipi bookshop in Brussels. This work goes back two years ago, but the result is a completely different book. In a great dimension and beautiful paper, the book deals with the body and the non linear passing of time, in an experimental treatment of the pictures that reminds me of Daisuke Yokota’s work. Yet it is a very personal and intimate book, and a beautiful object.

The list is getting long, but I cannot forget these books:

Voyage en Pays Clermontois by Israel Ariño
Israel has published a very sensitive, subtle and absolutely gorgeous book on a landscape « without qualities ». The everyday surroundings of an agricultural and rather poor land are magnified by the camera and the exquisite colors. Ediciones Anómalas are masters in the details when making a book.

Back-ground by Daichi Koda
I discovered the work of Daichi Koda through the eyes of Robin Titchener, and have been in love with his books since. Back-ground is not as much a book as an ensemble of loose pages in a beautiful hand made paper. Daichi takes pictures of trees and plants his mother loved, in an attempt to portrait her as she is no longer in this world. It is touching and tender and beautiful.

Old Tjikko by Nicolai Howalt
The Danish photographer Nicolai Howalt has exposed a single image of what is considered the oldest tree in the world with 97 different samples of analog photographic papers. The result is a treasure of a book, both in design, concept and content, tracing the passing of time.

Snowflakes Dog Man by Hajime Kimura
If you weren’t lucky enough to have the first original self edition, this one is an absolute must. And even if you had it, like myself, you would still want to have one of the beautiful prints made by Hajime. Hurry for it!

And I am too sentimental to not mention Robert Frank’s last book published by Steidl. Good days quiet. « time and tide waits for no man »

Gabriela Cendoya  is a Spanish photobook collector, living in the Basque Country.

Images: top – Voyage en Pays Clermontois by Israel Ariño
, below – The Gray Line by Laura Rodari

Laura Rodari