Monday, May 31, 2010

Kassel Fotobook Festival 2010

This may be a bit of old news by now since my travels have prevented me from my usual postings but I wanted to mention the fun happenings at the 2010 Kassel Photobook Festival. This year Dieter Nuebert and crew changed the venue to the main hall where Documenta takes place every 5 years. The building is twice the size of the art school where the festival has been the last two years but the place drew a great crowd - about double the attendance of last year. There were more booksellers, better exhibition spaces for the visiting artists and, most importantly, more scenic views for the smoking convention which has now become another event in itself.

After a free ride to Kassel with the Schaden crew and briefly helping them set up their tables I scoped out the other booksellers. Dirk Bakker was present and had some great stuff including a 'newspaper' for the Becher's Anonyme Skulpturen. A stand from Vice Versa manned by Kurt Salchli offered up a few really cool books (a new Richard Prince book Four Cowboys and Car Crash Studies 2001-2010 by Raffael Waldner). Schaden had the largest set up and many good things as usual, including a new book of Yutaka Takanashi (Photography 1965-1974) from Only Photography books. Takanashi is currently enjoying a nice exhibition of many vintage prints at Galerie Priska Pasquer in Koln.

Yannick Bouillis of Shashin Books in Amsterdam had many nice titles. He is now specializing completely in Dutch photo and art books and his prices are very good. Last year when I visited his shop, I picked up a couple titles from him and even though some were in Parr/Badger, he still had them on the shelf for regular price. This year he had a couple perfect copies of Why Mister Why for around 60 euros each for instance. Check out his online store, I wasn't familiar with half of the books he had at the festival.

One set of books I missed out on seeing fast enough to get myself were by the artist Ferdinand Krivet. It is a set of three individual books published in 1971 by Verlag Kiepenhevert in Koln. I think the title of the set is Stars: A lexicon in three chapters. Reminiscent of Klaus Staeck's Pornografie, they are completely made from appropriated imagery. Thanks to Walther Zoller and Cecilia for letting me see what I missed.

Another surprise was taking a second look at Nico Krebs and Taiyo Onorato's book The Great Unreal from Editions Patrick Frey (2009). I hadn't liked it much on my first leafing last year but now I am dragging it home. Also a big surprise was Viviane Sassen's Flamboya from Contrasto. Once I got past what I think is a horrible cover (too cutesy and trite), the inner book is pretty wonderful. Her book Sol y Luna from Libraryman was released last year but wasn't much my cup of tea. Also, there is a retrospective of Michael Schmidt taking place in Hamburg at the Haus der Kunst so they published a very nice hardcover catalog of work from 1989/1990. That comes home with me as well. I was trying to show restraint the whole festival but you know how things work.

Of the other tables, there was one for my favorite bookmakers and schools, the Institut fur BuchKunst in Leipzig. It was a real pleasure to sit and talk with Gunther Karl Bose,one of the instructors there and a great bookmaker himself. I featured two of his books on 5B4 last year. They only hasd a few books for offer but he showed me a few out-of-print titles which blew my mind. One which I must get my hands on, published just recently and already OOP, is XX-: The SS-Rune as a special Character on Typewriters by Elisabeth Hinrichs, Aileen Ittner and Daniel Rother. It is an examination of fascism presented through a history of the typewriters used during the Third Reich and the special lead type characters they invented. According to Gunther, this book was made mainly as a response to Steven Heller's Iron Fists, a book which they thought was a little too one dimensional in dealing with the subject. As I mentioned it is OOP partly due to the small print runs of their books (around 250 - 400 copies each) but also because the main newspaper in Frankfurt wrote a full article about it because it is a design and research masterwork. I somehow will get one and write about it.

In between many hours browsing titles, lectures took place with Paul Graham, Alec Soth, Rinko Kawauchi, Rob Hornstra, Joachim Schmid, Leiko Shiga, Niels Stomps, Sybren Kuiper, Lesley Martin speaking on Aperture's history, Ferdinand Br├╝ggemann talking about Japanese books, a presentation about Soviet photobooks, Dr. Bettina Lockmann on the outsider view of Japan, and many others. I didn't see all of them but was amazed at the rock-star status of Alec who started his lecture with an old drive-in movie style pre-film ad "Show time with Alec Soth (rhymes with 'both'.)." Surprising with all of the lectures was how few questions were asked after each presentation. Maybe the hall is intimidating but I remember last year there were many more.

The exhibition for the Best Photobooks of the Year was fascinating as Stanley Greene's newest book Black Passport garnered THREE nominations. I was pleasantly surprised that Darius Himes of Radius Books nominated my Books on Books study of Yutaka Takanashi's Toshi-e as his pick. Thank you Darius! Like last year, a nice catalog of the choices was produced and is available for sale.

The other main attraction was the book dummy show. Each year the festival has a call for entries for unpublished photographers to submit a book. This year over 400 books were entered and the best 50 were put on display. This year's winner was the photographer Werner Amann and his book American.

After three and a half days of books and hotel bar marathons even I was so sick of photobooks that I needed refuge and left after one last post-game beer with Dieter and the clean-up crew - catching a ride to Amsterdam with Yannick Bouillis and Sebastien Girard. I drew the short straw and wound up crammed into the back of a van with boxes of left over books crushing me, my spine being readjusted with ever bump of the highway on the four hour ride. We unloaded the van at 2:00am and after a sleepless night listening to Girard start snoring not 4 minutes after laying down, I did the best thing possible the next morning - search out the bookshops in Amsterdam.


1 comment:

df323photo said...

Who's Richard Price? Four Comboys is a dead givaway but Richard would be insulted.