Usually I use this monthly column to talk about books made with Blurb, but this month is a little different. You see, there are worse things in the world than being stuck in a room with the winners of the Paris Photo Aperture Photobook Awards, but that’s pretty much what happened to me. OK, I wasn’t exactly stuck, but I was manning the Blurb table at a recent event, where we exhibited alongside this traveling exhibition. Between the ebb and flow of curious conference attendees wanting to know about Blurb, I’d sit down at the long sawhorse tables and leaf through the extraordinary books on display.
Here are five award-winners (among many) that I really dug—one even has a Blurb connection.
A Corps Americana
Eggleston has been around. So, why is this museum catalog of some of Eggleston’s best known work so seemingly fresh? Maybe it’s the format: Saddle-stitched, almost magazine-like, printed on an uncoated paper. The first section deals with Eggleston’s work in portrait format, the second section his work in landscape format. Either way, it just really works.
Crackle & Drag
By far the most official-looking book in the exhibition, it’s also one of the most emotionally evocative. Ostensibly it’s a monograph of the polymath Ericsson, whose work runs the gamut from photography to sculpture to printmaking to conceptual art. But it’s also the story of Ericsson’s attempts to both eulogize his mother and to understand her suicide. There are prints made with nicotine, answering machine messages recorded onto single-use acetate discs, and a unique set of 150 zines.
On the other end of the book spectrum, is Lucy Helton’s Transmission, a book that’s roughly eight, long pages, clipped together and housed inside a cardboard tube. These are curious landscapes, appearing more like scientific studies that your classic panoramas, rendered in black and white and distorted by computer transmission. Despite the static and antiseptic nature of the work, its origins are decidedly familial, inspired by the photographer’s father, a science fiction writer who wrote of a depopulated earth.
This self-published volume, full of high-contrast, gritty photos documents the incredibly handhewn process of brick making in Bangledesh. Yoshida’s photos chronicle the daily lives of the seasonal workers. Yet it’s not an expose or poverty porn. It’s really a paean to physical work. And the book’s uncoated paper couldn’t be better matched to the subject.
Ramps, Pools, Ponds and Pipes
One of the beauties of seeing so many books together is delighting in the contrasts. Ramps, Pools, Ponds and Pipes is a pop-inspired collection of images of the ‘70s skateboard scene in Australia. There’s an informality to the work: it’s a small book, roughly 5 x 6, with spiral binding. The images, heavily half-toned, are Risograph printed in red and blue.