Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Yet another year-end book list

As many have noted, 2011 was a banner year for photo books. It seems there were more published last year than ever, and also more year-end lists than I can recall before, many of which have been compiled by Marc Feustel here.

Although Feustel's summary is a good general monitor of popularity, countless deserving books still flew under the radar. Here are 8 of my favorites from 2011 that I felt deserved more recognition.

Calf / Dick McRill

A meditation on minimalism, loss, and the fleeting tangibility of natural objects, McRill's Calf conveys more in its four simple pages than many books do in ten. With no explanatory text the viewer is invited to wonder about these four simple photos until the cows come home. The images are wonderful but the real reason this book will be remembered is for the elegant calf-skin cover with tipped in C-Print. Truly one of a kind.

Red Barn / Jane Cooper

Cooper approaches the seemingly tired barn genre with the fresh young verve of an oil company harvesting seemingly depleted tar sands, with equally fascinating results. Red Barns never offers solutions, only questions and riddles. A truly compelling and at times sardonic look into this exclusive world, not to mention a poignant meditation on images and memory, and what it means to rely on the latter more than the former in cases when the former is lacking in the latter but not poignancy nor, tragically, oil.

Book 127 and Book 128 / Elliott Erwitt

Ever since Erwitt went to sequential titling for his later monographs, the sheer glut of his books on the market has been easier to track. These two titles are no exception. Their remarkably clear and concise labeling makes them exceptionally easy to track amid the sheer glut of his books on the market. For just $45 apiece these books can be bought and made sequentially yours.

Lost Keys / Bert May

An outstanding contribution to the growing genre of real-world investigation photobooks. Based on a real life situation in which he actually lost his keys one morning, May meticulously recreates the scene and documents his house in mock photojournalistic fashion as he attempts to find his keys. Anyone who's misplaced their keys before will be under Mays command as they relive the events of that morning through his stunning photos. Lost Keys deconstructs a morning's search and in the process creates a beautiful and necromantic puzzle about loss, desire, hopelessness and the quest for penetration.

Eping by the Mississ / Harvey Kenmore

A clever re-interpretation of one of the most beloved photobooks of the past decade, Kenmore square-format cropping of Soth's images manages to be didactic without being pedantic, donnish yet not doctrinaire, faithful to the original yet also free swinging when it needs to be. The individual photographs, shown in Soth's original sequence, are hard and spare and engage their rectangular antecedents in a conversation which is anything but sleepy. If there is any justice, this book should make Kenmore a household name.

Lune de Miel / Jacob and Visarro

Published in a small run of 20 books, each of which was presold to important photo tastemakers like myself, chances are you'll never see this book. But everyone agrees it's good. The first picture is some kind of dog near a red wall, then the next one looks like Instanbul at night or something. I don't know. Anyway I can't describe every photo without removing the shrinkwrap all the way but just take everyone's word for it. Lune de Miel is one for the ages.

Konikukuwa / Yashiro Tatayo

Working closely with master papermakers to produce this exquisite object, Tatayo's Konikukuwa truly exemplifies photography's current bookmaking renaissance and carries the spirit safely forward into the millenium. Each page is stitched from handmade ricepaper and knit to the binding with (humanely harvested) sharkskin lacing. A silk slipcase adds the needed texture of softness to counter the bold, brash ricepaper, and the inclusion of eight actual photographs across the center spread can only be considered a bonus. Combined with marbled endpapers and Maiti-Kukunuji binding, this book fits comfortably equally in the dojo or the home bookcase.

The Wandering Eye / Iris Stein

2011 saw the further encroachment and domination of Google Street View, with photographers manipulating the tool in many ways to create various interesting projects. In The Wandering Eye Stein smartly turns the Street View gaze on itself, using it to document addresses where recent Street View projects have been researched. Rickard's LA apartment is documented, as well as those of Wolf, Rafman, Henner, and 32 others, showcasing an exotic subculture which is rarely disclosed to outsiders.


Anonymous said...

Awesome list, Blake. I'm enviously eyeing your copy of Lune de Miel. But Eping by the Missis is a classic born and bred. I already have Lost Keys. Difficult, but worth the effort with a masterful introductory text on the connections between photography, dreamlife and the syntactic coding of key blades.

Gabriel Benaim said...

Brilliant, but you shld sell them as a set with the shrink wrapper!

mark page said...

Nice nice but I'm liking my 'CANDLESTICK POINT' I know it's a re release but I ain't proud.

Phill said...

A rare collection indeed.

Eikm Sretep said...

Done! Got 'em all on Amozan. Can't wait to smell the shrink wrap. This is the best list ever.

Larissa Leclair said...

Just bought the last available copies of some of those titles. Phew. Can I come by and use your deluxe shrink-wrapper machine.

jacques philippe said...

That was funny and smart. For some reason I find the concept behind "Lost Keys" compelling. Not that I lost my keys often (though my wife look after hers every morning) but hmmmm... there is probably something like a "Freudian slip" - or more accurately a possible parapraxis - behind the fact that so many people lose their keys.

mark page said...

Ha yer got me! I thought they were maybe new titles from ABC artist book co-op. I do like the sound of CALF though.

Alec said...

Lost Keys is genius:

David said...

I can't find the "Lost Keys" book anywhere...anyone knows where can I buy it? Thanks

Blake Andrews said...

David, did you check under the sofa? You might find it there. If not, try retracing your steps from the last place you saw the book.