Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Flying Clipper Logbook

In 1959, Staffan Wettre and Gunnar Stenstrom set sail on a summer long voyage as deckhands on The Flying Clipper, a three-masted, topsail-schooner, as it toured from the Swedish coast to the Western Mediterranean. Teenagers at the time, both men cite this adventure some fifty years later as a unique and overwhelming event that has been kept alive in photographs and diary entries in The Flying Clipper Logbook just published by Wettre Forlag.

Old photographs, short Double-8 films taken by Staffan Wettre, and diaries discovered by his son Jonas, whose fascination with the colors and quality of the material, drew him to try to assemble it into a book recalling the sights and remembrances of the two men on the verge of adulthood.

Not a sightseeing tour for them for the most part, they were worked to exhaustion between the 27 port stops maintaining the ship's cleanliness and operation. One of their more distinguished guests during the journey was Adlai Stevenson who had lost the presidential election to Eisenhower a few years prior.

Jonas Wettre beautifully pieces the journey together with word and image. The photos, with their blue-green hues are enticingly aged and invitingly sentimental. Behind the camera, Staffan records the shorelines and ports but in his best images he concentrates on images of the crew. One deck hand tries to smoke an entire packet of cigarettes at once while another, Staffan himself, shirtless, stares out to the horizon from the deck railing - an image of youth and masculinity ready to experience boundless adventure.

The Flying Clipper Logbook is a captivating mix of media - Stenstrom contributes a few copper-plate etchings and Paul Ruscha, Ed's brother, lent the title calligraphy. If I had my choice there would be more photographs and a fuller realization. It is a journey into sun and sea which I wish would reveal more of the daily life of the crew. For all of the diary descriptions of the exhausting, non-stop work, the photos seem to describe nothing of the tasks but all of the pleasantries. Of course, there was a time for photographing and a time for working but I still wish for it. Although not intended to be a "photo story" when taken, the photos mixed with the diaries contrast one another and the disconnect is felt, making the material seem a bit thin.

As an object, The Flying Clipper Logbook is well designed and printed. Snapshots and strips of Double-8 film printed with a heavy gloss varnish create added dimensionality to each page and the choice of bright white sailcloth donning the cover is perfect. A blue elastic band holds the book closed and makes for a nice accent. A separate translation booklet in English is provided.

"Sailing is necessary," the quote that graces the back cover alludes to the transformative nature of an act. For these two men, this scrapbook of a summer - this second voyage of bookmaking - may have been another act in which the transformation is realized some fifty years later, but, with a different understanding of its importance.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Last Days of Shishmaref by Dana Lixenberg

Shishmaref, a village on a small island off the coast of Alaska, is getting swallowed by the sea. Due to climate change, the island's permafrost layer - its main protection against erosion - is melting, leaving the sea little restraint from reclaiming what is left. The photographer Dana Lixenberg stayed in Shishmaref for several weeks in 2007 at the invite of Jan Louter, a filmmaker working on a documentary about the village, and her new book The Last Days of Shishmaref shares her portrait of this disappearing community.

The 600 or so Inupiaq people who live in the community have through tradition and necessity, worked with nature. Living in such extremes, there seems to be little other way but climate change, global warming, has upset the ecological balance making their task impossible to continue on Shishmaref. Al Gore has called them the first victims of climate change.

Looking at Lixenberg's photographs we sense a community that is changing in more ways than its connection to the soil beneath it's feet. The youth understandably adopt popular American culture in dress and practice while the homes and yards are littered with piles of unrepairable junk whose only potential is to be recycled. In her photos, this visual plastic pollution is another underlying metaphor - an island and culture being claimed by many forces. Relocation, as is the plan for Shishmaref, may not be what saves this community from extinction.

The photographic description Lixenberg has adopted is that of large-format, color, often artificially lit scenes combining portraiture, landscape and still-life. It builds throughout the book with a nice rhythm and consistency. It is good work but the individual photographs contain few surprises and this for me is its disappointment over time. It is clean, well executed and seductive in its clarity, but by the end page I feel like I have just re-read a book I had forgotten about.

The design of The Last Days of Shishmaref by Mevis & Van Deursen out of Amsterdam, with its alternating groupings of photos and text, is beautifully conceived. The printing is good as are the choice of materials. The Last Days of Shishmaref was co-published in 2008 by Episode and Paradox out of the Netherlands.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Doug DuBois Signed Book Giveaway

This month’s Flak Photo WEEKEND series features work from photographer Doug DuBoi's title All the Days and Nights. A deeply personal body of work, DuBois first started photographing his family in 1984, before his father’s near fatal injury from a commuter train. Coping with the graveness of this hardship, he documents his family members through a tender lens, revealing the subtle complexities of their personalities and the dynamics of their relationships with one another. This poignant memoir engages the viewer in its emotional immediacy and showcases the tribulations of those closest to him.

Aperture and Flak Photo are giving away 5 signed copies of All the Days and Nights! To enter, browse the Flak Photo Gallery and post a link to one of your favorite photographs on Flak Photo's Facebook. Winners will be chosen at random, click here for details.

Friday, July 24, 2009

First, Jay Comes and Trails by Takashi Homma

Two new books by Takashi Homma, Trails and First Jay Comes, present a departure from his usual concentration on the urban and suburban world. The work, photographs and some paintings, concentrate on three basic components; snow, forest, and blood. Described with simply a few lines and contrast of color, these undeniably beautiful works sit in each book with very different tenor.

The more known of the two is from Hassla Books, First, Jay Comes. This small 5x7 inch, 24 page booklet includes more paintings than photographs. The cover, a photograph of mostly virgin snowfall despoiled by a few dark specks of red and perhaps a footprint of crushed snow. The evidence of violence remaining visible in the stillness of the natural world.

Homma's paintings follow in the traditional simple single brush-stroke tradition of sumi-e with their sparse, abstraction which gives but a suggestion of the content that is immediately grasped. The paint, especially the red and the slashing gestures with which it was applied, suggest more of an aggressive violence; speckles of blood turning into great smears of crimson.

The book's center photograph (there are only three in this booklet) depicts the scene that might have inspired the paintings, trampled snow and twigs and a center pool of blood that has seeped or been spread into the surrounding snow. Where as the other two images describe blood trailings of something bleeding being carried or dragged through the forest, this image seems to be the site of the attack.

The title, First, Jay Comes is as ambiguous and as harmonious as the work itself. As a book this Hassla edition is good but feels a bit unsubstantial and perhaps due to the paper stock it seems to clash a little with the content. That said, this edition is easiest to get and is only $12.00. First, Jay Comes was published in an edition of 500.

Takashi Homma's Trails from Match and Company in Japan is harder to get a hold of due to the difficulty in paying them but worth the extra effort and cost.

This is a much larger and altogether different take on this work. At approximately 11 x 12 inches and in combination with the beautiful OK Muse Gulliver Shiromono paper this feels like an actual fully realized work.

Trails opens to an image of mostly virgin snow speckled with a bit of frozen blood but acts as a moment of foreshadowing as the following three images have us venturing deeper into the forest and discovering animal tracks left in the snow. It is several images in that we pick up the fading blood trail and follow it to the source. The images are deeply tinted cyan which gives a cold, silent feeling and the blood an odd unrealistic hue which for me makes them less aggressive. Whatever has taken place and whether the act was made by man on animal or animal on animal, the harmony seems to be relating to the cycles of a food chain than with acts made out of anger.

As a book Trails is simply beautiful in its printing and design. Clean and simple, it has two gatefolds which reveal more photographs among the 24 pages. The cover plate is one of Homma's brush paintings and avoids announcing this as a photobook. This was published in a an edition of 700 and although the money transfer and shipping will greatly increase the cost, in Japan this book is only the equivalent of $21.00.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Empty Bottles by WassinkLundgren (a re-evaluation)

A little over a year ago I wrote, or rather ranted about Thijs groot Wassink and Ruben Lundgren's Empty Bottles being touted as the "Best Contemporary Photobook of the Year" at Arles in 2007. After generating a record number of comments a few agreeing and many strongly disagreeing with my opinion, the conversation has continued many times since with various people in person and I have been pegged as everything from a humanist to an asshole. In my original posting I mentioned being compelled to pick up the book many times mostly due to the design which is by Kummer & Herrman and that compulsion continued until I finally broke and dropped my 15 euros for a copy while in Holland.

Now the problem, not to mention the ethical dilemma, of reviewing a book that I didn't own at the time is how time effects your opinions (I didn't really "review" the book so much as rail against it). How many books do I own that have grown on me more and more over time? Many. But in case you are thinking I am setting up for a 180 turn on Empty Bottles, I am not. I find it necessary to fully express my thoughts because I do feel I was unfair and very insulting to the artists. My rant was more to the "best contemporary photobook" citation at Arles. My thought was, had photography really turned down such an alley that this had been awarded the best book at Arles which was the same year as; Sophie Calle's Take care of Yourself, Stephen Gill's Hackney Flowers, John Gossage's Putting Back the Wall, Anthony Hernandez's LA: Waiting, Sitting, Taryn Simon's American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, Walid Raad's Atlas Group Volume 3, Boris Mikhailov's Suzi Etc. and Paul Graham's A Shimmer of Possibility? That citation really had nothing to do with the artists themselves. They were, from what I have heard, just as surprised. As exciting as it may be for young artists to be awarded such an honor, I just felt it was undue in regard to the larger field of work for possible nomination.

The time I spent with Empty Bottles before owning it I found the photographs themselves to be boring. To me it was expressing an idea that handcuffed the photographers to a formal strategy, and by most accounts I find such an approach uninteresting. When I see such strategies I naturally start asking why? For instance why make images that are so center weighted? Why not make each its own surprise with added formal complexity? Why not vary the distance or up the ante by making the viewer work a bit to understand what is going on? I sensed a kind of laziness at work - a dependence on an idea which never quite gets over itself to a more thoughtful execution.

The ethics of such a project have also been discussed and although I do not have the same intellectual melt-down that Simon Norfolk has been documented on Youtube, it does rest a bit uneasy. Wassinklundgren mentioned in their lecture at Kassel that as they were playing their cat and mouse game with the bottles, people would play with them too. Upon seeing what they were up to, one bottle scavenger would stand directly in the way of their lens while another would take the opportunity to snatch the bottle from the scene without a photo being made. In someways I agree with Gossage from one of his comments about the ethics in photography - it is too fluctuating and slippery a medium to determine where ethical boundaries lie with still images. Is setting a trap with a bottle anymore ethically questionable than say photographing a person from afar with a very long lens?

Looking through and sitting with this for a while now I do like about 8 of the 24 images. These are a few that transcend what I already expect before turning the page. In one it is how the blue cap of the bottle (photo on the second page) sits exactly between the person's feet but beyond that the image is less interesting. The cover image is finely balanced between the figure in question, the woman entering from the right, the manhole cover and the overhang of the tree with the obvious payoff is the twist of the man bending to get the bottle. Fourth image from the last in the book of a man stretching to pick up a bottle with the walkway overpasses in the background: the man balanced on one foot is beautifully described but for me additional small details like the rendering of the woman just over his shoulder in blue behind the fence and the drape of the red coat over the shoulder of the woman to the left are what would invite further investigation once we "get" the reason behind the photo.

Wassinklundgren are smart young artists who understand the desire of their audience for a good hook much like a seductive pop song. In art school when they were given a corner wallspace for their final thesis show, they integrated the photos into the space by making large prints that then had to have entire sections cut away to accommodate windows, moldings and doorways. One of their newer projects is videotaping dogs which have been tied up outside of stores waiting for their owners to finish shopping. The camera trains on the dog, handheld, from anywhere from a minute to twenty until the owner returns. The videos end with the moment of recognition of the owner and the leading away of the dog. Cute and funny, of course with a twinge of meaningful anxiety. The installation of this work is also smart and seductive - two video projectors projecting their images which meet in the corner of the exhibition space basically with the same downward vantage point as the videos were shot.

Thijs' Don't Smile Now... Save It For Later project employs a large hand mirror in a photobooth in order to describe the surrounding territory just outside the booth. These are areas where, we are also informed, no photography is allowed. As much as I like the thought, the final pictures don't fully satisfy. Again, I like the feel of the book (designed again by Kummer & Herrman) and the thought behind it but I experience little surprise in the final work.

So my final opinion has shifted a little in regard to Empty Bottles now that it sits here. I don't find it a completely "empty vessel" as I wrote originally. Since I like 8 of the 24 images I guess for me it is only 2/3rds empty. Or maybe, as my therapist suggests, I should regard it as 1/3rd full.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Open See by Jim Goldberg

In Paris walking along the Seine, a young woman stops about eight feet from some approaching tourists, spotting something on the ground. She places herself in their sightline, stoops down and a large golden ring appears in her hand. She looks at it admiringly and asks the tourists if it is theirs. After some moments of wonder, she offers to sell this golden ring to them for maybe what appears to be a surprisingly small sum of money. A few blocks further, a young Romanian boy stoops to pick up another invisible ring off the ground and the tourists pause with his questions of ownership. A few blocks further it is an elderly woman who bends down with surprising dexterity. A relatively harmless scam that gives the impression that the roads in Paris are literally paved with gold.

Since 2003 Jim Goldberg has been working on a project about the "New Europeans," that is, refugees escaping their homeland either because of war or poverty to make a new home in Europe. His new series of books, Open See just published by Steidl, brings together a multitude of voices speaking of their journeys towards a "better life."

Using different media such as multi-format photographs, polaroids, writing, ephemera and objects, Goldberg presents these fractured histories as a flow of harsh realities of dislocation where hope seems pushed to its limits. The most common denominator between the participants is the disconnect between dreams and reality. One is offered a job by a cousin only to be sold into prostitution. Another dreams of the wealth of Europe and yet faces even more poverty as racism keeps them from getting any job. It is a set of books as much about the cruelty of man attempting to take advantage of the powerless while they are in their most vulnerable state.

Like in his book Raised by Wolves, Goldberg's approach is a collaborative effort - the marginal given their spotlight. He photographs and collects the histories but also allows the subjects their own voice by way of writing on the photographs he takes of them. Often without translation, my first impression was of annoyance that I could not fully understand each person's plight but now I think that lack of translation is a strength. By denying certain information due to language barriers, Goldberg has placed us into a similar uncomfortable space as those approaching a foreign country with limited means of communication.

I found it also a way to avoid the 'refugee as spectacle' which is so prevalent in photojournalism. In an effort to describe these lives with the small hope of changing something or helping, often the subject becomes nothing more than a case in need of a solution. My only criticism is that the art-making aspect of collage and intentionally amateur, in-the-moment constructions, can feel a bit forced. It is Goldberg's scrapbook approach - perhaps
identifying that the mediums he employs can only provide but a part of the story - that I am both seduced by and yet weary of.

As books, Open See is a set of four housed in a flimsy cardboard slipcase. Three books are relatively thin and concentrating on what appears to be Eastern Europe, India and Africa while the fourth is much thicker and a collective global portrait. There is little text apart from what appears in the images themselves but for two stories in the larger book on a woman sold into prostitution and a Moroccan man who's complicated and life-threatening journey into Italy ended with him unemployed and left with little option but turning to crime to survive.

The genetic lottery of where and when someone is born and the circumstances in which they arrive into is a question the Moroccan man ponders. He asks why couldn't he have been born 14km north of his birthplace. It could be as simple as a few kilometers or a moment in history that shifts a life from normality to horror. This book will mostly sit on the shelves of the affluent, those on the right side of borders, those that probably will know no hardship like those in the photos - the lucky ones, living lives that are the dream of others.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Les Rencontres d'Arles 2009: Nan Goldin

The main curator this year at Arles was Nan Goldin who invited many people to participate in the exhibitions. Stepping aside from books for a moment I need to address the main installation of her own work. It took place in a former church where upon entering, one was faced with a set of black stairs leading up to a scaffold and into a balcony-shaped darkened room about 15 feet off the floor and facing out at three projection screens. A dim light shown down on an installation of an actual bed upon which was a nude form that was supposed to be Nan partially covered by a blood spotted sheet. Next to the bed was a night-table covered with cigarettes, papers and cans of diet Coke. The dummy was embarrassingly amateurish and laughable in its realization. So much so that I had a moment where I just wanted to leave but the slides started and the the descent into Nan's personal hell intervened. The story was about her sister Barbara Holly Goldin who committed suicide at 19 and Nan's own later battle with drugs, depression, and dysfunction all narrated in her sluggish monotone.

This was not work from Ballad but mostly photographs from the Goldin family albums aside her more recent work and videos describing her trips to rehab and self-mutilation with burning cigarettes on her arms. Along with the projected photos and narration, Goldin and her collaborators on the slideshow decided to include sound effects to add to the experience. Unfortunately there was NOTHING in this installation that did not reek of trivial art school melodrama - from the use of religious imagery and paintings that opened the show, to the bad videos that littered the screens. The most infuriating of all is that Nan's incompetence at creating anything beyond cliche was actually an offense to the memory of her sister whom she obviously loved and wanted to tribute with this work.

Depression and suicide are very complex issues which in her hands were completely boiled down to their lowest common denominator. This was a piece that used the loss of a life to push obvious buttons and trigger emotion through shock tactics. At times I almost laughed out loud at the points when she was trying the hardest. The soundtrack reenacted argument between mother and daughter (Mother: "You fucking little slut"... Daughter: "You bitch I hate you!") and a father's desperate howl after learning of the death of his daughter amounted to nothing a badly done radio play.

The most obnoxious aspect from which I lost all respect for her and her collaborators were the photos and videos of Nan's self-mutilation by burning her arms with cigarettes. Obviously these people who assisted on the making of this slideshow could care less about her as if someone I cared about came to me asking if I would film or photograph them driving burning cigarettes into their arms I would have the ethics and morals to say NO. I won't partake in documenting self-destructive behavior especially when my participation could be mistaken for encouragement. And just to head off people claiming that these were shot by Nan herself, some were not and certainly the hand-held videos weren't either. If that weren't enough she decided it best to flog her own dead horse with a soundtrack over the images of Johnny Cash's cover of the Nine Inch Nails song Hurt. The Nan Goldin music video of self destruction and idiocy.

At the end, a triptych of overexposed flowers waving in the wind with a photo of her sister's grave in the middle frame and a dedication to all the people who suffer from depression or have committed suicide amounted to a poor public service announcement. This was quickly followed by a roll of credits. CREDITS! Every memorial needs them. Their presence alone robbed this "piece" of the ounce of power it had since it quickly directed the attention of the viewers towards its play-acted triviality. In identifying so strongly its construct, it leaves little at stake for those that actually stayed for the entire length.

Why she feels the need to expose all of her internal pain and suffering may actually derive from a true place such as it did when she was working on Ballad, but I feel a forced strategy at work here that is pointlessly self-indulgent. Her work is a diary of sorts so self-indulgence is acceptably part of the mix but with this later work she seems to have left the circle of collaborators which was so integral to fuel her instincts to document.

Just to be clear, it isn't my difficulty with facing what she is trying to evoke nor a desire to conceal the world's pain but simply her methods are not sound. The difficulty of her current work was that 22 years ago it seemed to be at the forefront of a new direction for the medium but the continuance has never been as white hot as in Ballad. In my opinion, much of her later work greatly tarnishes the former and this 39 minute slideshow / installation does the worst service to her oeuvre.

For all this I say it is truly sad to see that life is so difficult and painful for Nan Goldin and I wish her refuge somehow. Perhaps the trappings of fame add to a desire for acceptance through exposing that pain and this is why she insists on showing us her misery. For us viewers we should ask why is it necessary for us to pay attention, it certainly isn't for the photography which currently is haphazard, repetitive and mostly superfluous when parked next to Ballad. What I saw directed on the screen was an unsophisticated melodrama which cost me 39 minutes of my life and left me no desire to ponder any deeper questions that might have arisen out of this spectacle. The Nan Goldin dummy should have warned me to dash for the exit yet I stayed and will be forever weary of peeking into her disaster of a life.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Les Rencontres d'Arles 2009 Book Awards

The photography festival Les Rencontres d'Arles has been going on since the late1960s and was started by Lucien Clergue who also organized the Ecole Nationale Photographie located in the town's center. This was my first experience going and I think it will be a must each year as the whole week was a great experience. Basically this small town in the south of France is taken over for a couple months with photo exhibitions spread out through the city and the festival draws thousands during the main week. It has even spawned a shadow festival and if you tire of so much photography, the theater festival in Avignon can be a interesting day trip.

For photobook lovers it is known for its juried book prize for both artist and historical categories and it has helped to launch the careers of many photographers. This year they received around 400 submissions of books to compete and from what I understand two copies of each book is required to be sent, one is displayed and the second copy goes to the Ecole Nationale Photographie library for the students. While I was there Olivier Cablat organized a visit and not only is it a fine collection but it is housed in an amazing space that used to be a convent.

Unlike Paris where my experience to get a drink after 1am in is task, Arles is much more accommodating. Parties are a large part of the week which didn't allow much in the way of time for writing as I expected. 18 hour days are the norm and since the town is quite small you keep running into people you know, there isn't a shortage of alternate nightly plans. I did manage to see a few of the exhibitions in the 6 days but not many.

Much of the exhibition aspect of the festival now takes place in a former railway yard which is being redesigned by Frank Gehry. In its transition it is a bit of a no-man's land of warehouse sized buildings about a ten minute walk to the edge of town. This year's main guest curator was Nan Goldin who invited people for a 'Friends of Nan Goldin' exhibition including Jim Goldberg, David Armstrong, Anders Petersen, JH Engstrom,
Annelies Strba, Leigh Ledare, Boris Mikhailov, Antoine D'Agata, and others. Nan herself held a slideshow on the last day with live music accompaniment by the Tiger Lillies and a separate installation which I will spend more time on later. Roni Horn had several projects from her To Place work on display as well as a show of new talent chosen by a group of well known photographers. Brian Griffin and Martin Parr also had major exhibitions. Most of the new talent didn't make much of an impression but I enjoyed the Horn exhibition and Brian Griffin, who was mostly off my radar, deserves your attention. For me his work and books were the real discovery.

The book prize exhibition which displays most of the 400 submissions revealed very few surprises but it was interesting to see some of the past winners dating back to 1971. Nakta by Miguel Rio Branco, Interiours by Sophie Ristelhueber, East 100th Street by Bruce Davidson (the first book prize given). This year's artist book prize went to Anders Petersen and JH Engstrom's From Back Home and the historical prize went to Susan Meiselas's In History. My choice would have been Sarah Greenough's Robert Frank: Looking In.

I had many great conversations with people about the Errata Books on Books series and it was interesting to hear the divide between people who liked what we are doing and those that don't at all. It was pretty much an even split between old and young. The old said the same things like: "I have the originals" or "We have those books at the library of the Maison Europeenne de la Photographie." While the younger, perhaps less fortunate and less privileged, were excited by them. Some people in the former category expressed surprise that all of the artists we approach want to be a part of our series and that is the biggest confirmation of what we are trying to do. I have some killer books lined up (about a dozen if we can sustain what we are doing) so one of these years we'll win over the French and take home the prize. I'll be announcing the next round of books in the coming weeks.

Many Thanks to Markus, Sebastian Hau, Sebastien Girard, Remy, Richard, Nina, Verena, Olivier Cablat, Carli, Gregiore, Frederico, Nicholas, Adam, Thomas Manneke, Kalev, Morten, Bertrand, Oliver, the Irish crew, and all that made this a great time...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Paris on just 2 books a day

It has been a busy week although not for 5B4 postings as you all figured out (I wanted the Playas book to sink in a bit so I let that rest at the top of the page for a while). I have been in Paris since Tuesday and will be going to Arles on Monday for the start of the photo festival where I hope to do a few posts onsite but from what I hear there is little time to sleep let alone write.

Paris has always been fruitful bookwise and this trip has had me hitting my usual book haunts except I am showing great restraint unlike my complete breakdown of will in Germany last month. There will be no shipping of books home at exorbitant rates nor heavy boxes being carried as hand luggage. Only the necessities will make it home this time around and I have further decided that they cannot weigh in total more than 10 pounds. Possible?

Ok, so you see eight books in the composite photo from only five days and you ask if that is a sign of showing restraint. I say yes because they are all very small, light in weight and were very cheap.

The first, a new edition of Daido Moriyama's Light and Shadow came to me by way of Sebastian Hau who was running the book table at Diane Dufour's party for her new museum project Le Bal which is slated to open next year. About the size of a pocket paperback this is a reconfiguring of his book from the 1980s. (Weighs in at around 5 ounces)

Sophie Ristelhueber's book Operations was found at the Jeu de Paume museum in the Tuileries. This is her book of 'invisible wars disguised as poems.' Words only, no images, but a fantastic artist book. (Weighs in at around 6 ounces)

The next two books are a part of the series La Carnets de la Creation from Editions de l'Oeil. I hadn't noticed these before even though the series has been going for some time now. They are 24 page long booklets, softcover and about 5 x 7 in trim size. The first that caught my eye was on Mikhael Subotsky and his images from the Beaufort West prison and the other features Malick Sidibe's portraits of people with their back turned to him. They aren't great by any stretch but well worth the 5 euros they retail for. The printing is decent and all the texts are in French. (Both weigh in at around 4 ounces)

The next is the biggest of the lot at approximately 10.5 x 11.5 inches is the Match and Company Takashi Homma book Trails. Not to be confused with the new Hassla edition of similar material, this is a really beautiful book published in Japan in an edition of 700. I am not a huge fan of Homma but this is a really good one. I will spend a bit more time with this and the Hassla book First Jay Comes when I return homma. (Weighs in at around 8 ounces)

The next two are publications in the Linea di Confine della Provincia di Reggio Emilia series. These are the results of workshops given by various photographers invited to work in Italy. The first catalog in the series is from 1989 and on Guido Guidi who explored the province of Ruberia. The third in the series is Michael Schmidt's work in the outskirts of Correggio in 1991. At 32 pages they are short but the content is well printed and nicely presented. (Both weigh in at around 12 ounces)

The last book has a geek factor of 11 but I couldn't resist since it was the only copy I saw. It is a bibliography of all the publications that reproduced photos by Eugene Atget during his lifetime. It is from the publisher Stanislas Fourquier in 2007 and features many black and white reproductions of the magazines and books. I figured it was well worth the 15 euros since oddly, it is numbered and only one of 250 copies. Who puts out a limited AND numbered edition of a small softcover bibliography of Atget? Alain and Stanslas Fourquier that's who. (A mere 5 ounces)

So my book weight total so far is around 2.5 - 3 pounds but just wait till I get into Schaden's Supermarket of Printed Matter in Arles. 1000 square meters of book heaven. I'll be the one in the corner weighing books on the scale.