Photobooks of 2019: Sarah Allen

Maisie Cousins

Photobooks of 2019: Sarah Allen

The Pillar by Stephen Gill
Seasons come and go but the constant in this book is the cast of winged characters that perch on Gill’s purposefully placed pillar. A follow on from Night Procession, this photobook again looks at the animal life in Gill’s adopted home of Sweden. Who would have thought such a simple concept would have such diverse and surprising results.

‘Rubbish, Dipping Sauce, Grass, Peonie, Bum’ by Maisie Cousins
Food, sauce, flowers and flesh come together in super saturated, full bleed and close-up images. Beautiful, disgusting, lush and grotesque – you can almost smell and taste last night’s leftovers as they rub up against orchids and ants.

Americans Parade by George Georgiou
Engrossing images which turn the camera away from the action of the parade and towards the waiting crowds. Taken in 2016 in the run up to the presidential election, the images are shot across America in several different states. The binding of this book allows the spreads to open beautifully, the effect is well worth the time and effort that no doubt went into perfecting it.

Stories by Santu Mofokeng
This collection is the result of a collaboration between the photographer, editor and curator Joshua Chuang and Gerhard Steidl. Mofokeng’s work is here grouped into 18 concise ‘stories’ – for example ‘billboards’, ‘trauma’ and ‘Pedi dancers’. The collection contains many images not yet seen. A timely review of over thirty years of work by this important photographer.

I give you my life by Chloé Jafé
For this body of work Jafé spent several years imbedded in the life of the Yakuza, an international crime syndicate originating from Japan. Jafé’s focuses her lens on the wives of the mafia members – those “who know everything and say nothing.” A fascinating, tender and intimate story beautifully realised in this artist book.

Shirley Baker
Many will know Baker for her black and white street photography in Salford, Manchester and Blackpool. Fewer will know her work from South of France, Italy and Japan. It’s fantastic to see the breadth of Baker’s work brought together. This important book shines a spotlight on one of Britain’s – until recent times – unsung photographers.

Sarah Allen is Assistant Curator, International Art at Tate Modern where she works on exhibitions, displays and acquisitions. She is co-curating the upcoming Zanele Muholi exhibition. She has also recently curated Nan Goldin (2019) and David Goldblatt (2019). She has a specialist focus on photobooks and is curator of the Martin Parr Photobook Collection at Tate. 

Images: top – ‘Rubbish, Dipping Sauce, Grass, Peonie, Bum’ by Maisie Cousins, below Stories by Santu Mofokeng