Filtering by Tag: Books

Mark Cohen's 'Dark Knees' Best Photobook of 2013 by Lensculture

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This photobook, Dark Knees, and the accompanying exhibition in Paris at Le Bal, opened my eyes to one of my new favorite photographers, Mark Cohen — a new discovery for me of a man who has been making photographs since the 1960s!

I love the obsessive, cinematic nature of these tightly cropped images that seem too close for comfort, but endlessly fascinating all the same. These are compulsive images, rather than compassionate. But they have the intensity of actually seeing through someone else’s eyes — you see what he notices, you notice what he repeatedly sees — and there is consistency of vision and subject matter decade after decade after decade. There is a celebration of abstract shape and form here, as well as the love of luck and chance. There’s also a strong sense of voyeurism, perhaps a little too strong, but that is a significant factor in the success of these images, too, I think.

The book is beautifully edited by Diane Dufour of Le Bal, and the pairings of images seem perfect and add to the appreciation of the work. The simple titles are printed by hand, making it feel like a very personal photo album of stunningly unique images.

Here is the excellent introduction that accompanied the exhibition:

Mark Cohen was born in 1943 in Wilkes-Barre, a small Pennsylvania mining town. A figure of the street photography genre which dominated American photography in the early 1970s, he is also the inventor of a distinctive photographic language, marked by a fleeting arrangement of lines and, at the same time, an instinctive grasp of the organic, sculptural quality of forms. Two photographs hang opposite each other in his studio: one from Henri Cartier-Bresson's surrealist period and another by Aaron Siskind. The elegant geometry of one and the dry plenitude of the other transpire in the work of Mark Cohen, which John Szarkowski showed at the MoMA as of 1973.

Over the past 40 years Mark Cohen has walked the length and breadth of the streets in and around his hometown, seizing - or rather extracting - fragments of gestures, postures and bodies. In his photos we see headless torsos, smiling children, willing subjects yet still frighteningly vulnerable, thinly sketched limbs and coats worn like protective cloaks. Thus Mark Cohen slices and sculpts the very thick of the world to impose, in successive touches, a Kafkaesque vision, ruthless and poetic, of an environment that encompasses him. A vision from within.

This remarkable body of work - Cohen rarely uses the viewfinder, holding the camera at arm's length - is rooted in impulsions that last just fractions of a second. A disconcerting strangeness emanates from his subjects, some caught in the dazzle of the flash. Bodies seem uncomfortable, threatened, lost, grinning too wildly or reduced to their erotic dimension. Ordinary objects appear isolated, mysterious, sinister. The decline of this small mining town is right there, in its yards, at its bus stops, on its porches, but Mark Cohen's intentions are anything but documentary. Repetitive to the verge of obsession, he has no idea what brought him there or what he hopes to find. Rather he is driven by the beauty of a chance encounter, by the torments or delights he detects in another's substance.

There is, in the brutality of his gaze, a rawness and a nervous energy, an ambivalence and a grace through which the making of a photo becomes the expression of a revelation.

If you treat yourself to just one photobook this season, this is my personal recommendation.

— Jim Casper

To view Casper's other selections please click here.

Announcing William Eggleston's New Steidl Title 'At Zenith'

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At Zenith. Photographs by William Eggleston. Steidl, 2014. 88 pp., 40 color illustrations, 13½x10¼".

Publisher's Description In April 1979, a book of fifteen colour photographs by William Eggleston was published in a limited edition of twenty. The photographs were taken from the second chapter of an unpublished larger work entitled Wedgewood Blue. Amidst his publications Chromes (2011), Los Alamos Revisited (2012), and the upcoming Democratic Forest (2014) and Election Eve (2016), all documenting his lifetime work, At Zenith constitutes a calm and experimental intermezzo from Eggleston's familiar loudness and intensity of colours. The photographer pointed his camera at the sky to focus on the clouds rolling by.

The book is scheduled for release on March 2014. It can be pre-ordered here.

Rinko Kawauchi 'Ametsuchi' on ASX

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Review: Rinko Kawauchi Ametsuchi (2013)

By Sören Schuhmacher for ASX, September 2013

Rinko Kawauchi’s new book Ametsuchi (Heaven and Earth) published by Aperture, reads like a Haruki Murakami novel. Kawauchi merges reality with the spiritual world and reveals an invisible but tangent point of connection between apparently unrelated events. Even the concept of Ametsuchioriginates from a dream, Rinko Kawauchi had years ago.

“I was drinking my coffee on a Sunday morning, idly watching TV with my head still half-asleep, I was surprised to suddenly see the image from that dream reappear. It was a scene of many people and horses together in a green meadow before a large mountain – a place called Aso.”

Rinko Kawauchi entered a new territory with Ametsuchi. This time she worked with a 4×5 large format camera instead her Rolleiflex, which led her to break out from the self-imposed pattern of the square format. Also the typical soft tones in her images disappear. They became darker and reveal an almost mystical atmosphere.

Aso, where most of the photographs were taken, is a region famous for it’s 1,300-year-old farming ritual, in which fields are burned on an annual basis in advance of planting new crops. The agricultural burning and the cyclical nature of life, functions as the central theme in the book.

Kawauchi is known for her exceptional editing of her books and the manner to tell a story on a page by juxtaposition of two images. Although her previous books were always pursuing a certain concept, they could be considered more like a collection of short stories than a novel without an ongoing storyline. Ametsuchi on the other side, is sequenced with single images on a double page, which invites the viewer to follow the story through the entire book, from beginning to end.

The book starts with a smoke darkened sky, caused by the flames of the agriculture burning, that turn the dry fields into an apocalyptic landscape. In the further course, burning fields, green meadows and in snow covered landscapes alternate to illustrate a recurring cycle and and the elapse of time.

At about the middle of the book, images of a theatrical Shinto dance ceremony, the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, and the starry sky in a planetarium were interspersed. Different from the agricultural burnings, the images of the Wailing Wall and the Shinto dance ceremony are blurred and overexposed. The sudden appearing and disappearing of these interspersed images, are like zapping through TV channels, where different events, at different locations, take place at the same time.

At first glance this events seem unrelated, but under a closer look, they all representing a certain resistance in a time that rapidly changes. Rituals – Spiritual remains of the beginning of mankind, formed a circle by passing on from generation to generation. Ametsuchi is a veneration of the invisible world that has continued since the distant past. Rinko Kawauchi uses these rituals as a juncture between past and present, spiritual world and reality, heaven and earth.

The award-winning Dutch designer, Hans Gremmen, translated the concept of Ametsuchi into the book design, and managed even to enlarge Kawauchi’s work by pushing the photobook to the next level. Questioning the medium of the book, and how people tend to use them, Ametsuchi is bound in a variation of a Japanese binding. The upper sides of the pages are closed and the bottoms open, which generates a space between the actual pages that can only be seen by lifting the pages bottom corners up. In this almost hidden space, the images are the inverted color version from the outer surface, visualizing a parallel world, where darkness turns into light, fire into water and vice versa. As a nice extra the dust jacket of the book is also a double-sided poster with a inverted image of the cover on the back. Nothing was left to chance and is perfectly integrated into the main concept, from the beginning to the end.

This leads to the last image in the book, which shows the actual scene of people and horses together in a green meadow before a large mountain. The scene, Rinko Kawauchi dreamt about and which later reappeared on television – a recurring cycle.

“On the ground of one of the stars among the immense universe, I think of the beginning, The Earth is a mirror to project heaven. Photography captures the mirror. It connects the Earth and heaven. When the darkness reaches at the bottom, the light will arrive.”

- Rinko Kawauchi

ASX CHANNEL: RINKO KAWAUCHI

(All rights reserved. Text @ Sören Schuhmacher and ASX, Images @ Rinko Kawauchi)

Martin Parr's 'The Non-Conformists' set for October release

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"The Non-Conformists features Martin Parr’s first major body of work from the mid-1970s, published here for the first time in book form. A wonderful and charming surprise for Parr enthusiasts and fans of traditional reportage, this body of black-and-white imagery predates the cutting color work that earned him his fame in the 1980s. In 1975, fresh out of art school, Martin Parr found poor footing in the London photography scene, so he moved to the picturesque Yorkshire Pennine mill town of Hebden Bridge. Over a period of five years, he documented the town in photographs, showing in particular the aspects of traditional life that were beginning to decline. Susie Parr, whom he had met in Manchester, joined him in documenting a year in the life of a small Methodist chapel, together with its farming community.

In words and pictures, the Parrs vividly and affectionately document cobbled streets, flat-capped mill workers, hardy gamekeepers, henpecked husbands, and jovial shop owners. The best Parr photographs are interleaved with Susie Parr’s detailed background descriptions of the society they observed."

Click here to read more about the book and to pre-order your copy of The Non-Conformists.