Terra Galleria Photography

Photobooks 2018: Favorites

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I’ve maintained the photobook meta-list for six years (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) and it’s been gratifying that some in the photography community found it useful. This month, Alec Soth asked me where the 2018 meta-list was. I happily referred him to the list maintained by Viory Schellekens. Last year, I noticed that she had been compiling a 2017 meta-list that was better in any way than mine: more meticulous, informative, and complete. Among other improvements, Viory identifies individuals and lists being counted for each book. Since the result of this effort is meant to be objective, I have decided not to compile the meta-list going forward. And since this effort consumes so much time, I am grateful that Viory has taken it over. My engagement with the meta-list is not entirely finished, though, as this year instead of aggregating lists I author my first favorites list consisting of ten books published in 2018, and two reprints.

Barbara Bosworth: THE HEAVENS, Radius Books. Photographs of the moon, sun, and stars are not only remarkable for the way they were made, with a 8×10 camera – the last photographic instrument I’d think of today for this endeavor in spite of my fondness for large format photography, but even more so for the sense of wonder and mystery enabled by this difficult process. Like The Meadow with the same format, it is a beautiful and intricate book.

Sally Mann: A THOUSAND CROSSINGS, Abrams. The most extensive survey of Sally Mann’s work to date is not a mere retrospective but instead a book with a curatorial point of view focussed on themes central in the artist’s oeuvre, explored through a combination of classic as well as unpublished recent photographs and a lot of scholarly essays. The massive catalog is a bargain compared to other photobooks.

Todd Hido: BRIGHT BLACK WORLD, Nazraeli Press. Iceland and Noray have become a popular photographic destination, however, Hido’s dark and moody photographs are easily identified as his. At the same time, in his first venture beyond America he has also extended his concerns with environmental overtones. At first, the book physically looks similar to his previous oversize Nazraeli publications, if even slightly larger, but it conceals a few design surprises.

Stephen Strom: BEARS EARS: VIEWS FROM A SACRED LAND, George Thompson Publishing. Strom’s stark and radical vision with its emphasis on distance and aridity may be a little counterproductive to the cause of the book, however having photographed the place myself, there is no denying that he managed to find an original way to depict the natural landscape.

Naoya Hatakeyama: EXCAVATING THE FUTURE CITY, Aperture. Hatakeyama life work consists of a multi-faceted examination of the city as a transforming organism, ranging from its source materials to the architecture. This retrospective does an excellent job at pulling all the stands of this endeavor together.

Guido Guidi: PER STRADA, Mack. Exploring familiar territory near his home and along the Via Emilia, Guido Guidi has created images of common places that are extraordinary in their precision.

Max Pinckers: MARGINS OF EXCESS, Self-published. Pinckers has carved an odd niche between the conceptual and the documentary, examining photography’s authenticity and objectivity in the process. His latest project intertwines reality and fiction at a new level as it tells the story of six people who have created their own truth.

Richard Mosse: The Castle, Mack. Mosse turns a military-grade thermographic camera that can image a human body from 30 kilometres away back towards the state, picturing their response to the global refugee crisis. The heat maps assembled from hundreds of video frames are strikingly reproduced on panoramic gatefolds using silver ink on black paper to produce an unusual object.

Deana Lawson: DEANA LAWSON, Aperture. This gorgeous monograph is simply designed and the premise, staged environmental portraits of black people, looks simple enough, but there is a lot going on in those photographs.

Oliver Klink: CULTURES IN TRANSITION, True North Editions. Klink has gone beyond travel photography by repeatedly traveling into remote corners of Asia armed with insider contacts to seek authentic moments, and by crafting exquisite B&W Piezography prints. The edit confers a universal human dimension to a book printed to such uncompromising standards that the plates sometimes exceed those prints.

Michael Schmidt: WAFFENRUHE, Koenig Books (reprint). Schmidt’s 1987 masterpiece shows how Berlin felt at a critical historical juncture using an intensely personal visual vocabulary.

Ralph Gibson: THE BLACK TRILOGY, University of Texas Press (reprint). Gibson’s forged a singular path through his seminal books self-published in the early 1970s, three of them are compiled in this publication. He innovated by pairing photos in order to create parallels that enhance the mysterious narrative emanating from the surrealist and dreamy photographs.

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