I know that I have been starting each of my very sporadic postings with an apology for the silence but I am finally back in NYC after attending Paris Photo, the Offprint Paris Book Fair, and spending several days press checking the new Errata Editions books in China. I wasn't able to blog while on press just like last year because the Great Firewall of China is still blocking access to blog sites. I promise to be resuming my posts regularly. My "vacation" is now over.
This time around I was five days on-press as we were doing five books (four new and a second printing of Walker Evans: American Photographs). I survived on little sleep and lots of what I now call a "Wall-Mart Espresso" (3-5 packets of powdered Nescafe coffee in a half cup of hot water stirred with the body of a Bic lighter). As exhausting as the press checks are, I am pleased with the results and hope you'll be too. The new books are:
Books on Books #9 Paul Graham: Beyond Caring. Published in 1986 Beyond Caring is now considered one of the key works from Britain’s wave of New Color photography that was gaining momentum in the 1980s. While commissioned to present his view of ‘Britain in 1984,’ Graham turned his attention towards the waiting rooms, queues and poor conditions of overburdened Social Security and Unemployment offices across the United Kingdom. Photographing surreptitiously, his camera is both witness and protagonist within a bureaucratic system that speaks to the humiliation and indignity aimed towards the most vulnerable end of society. Books on Books #9 presents every page-spread of Graham’s controversial book along with a contemporary essay by writer and curator David Chandler.
Books on Books #10 Zdeněk Tmej’s Abeceda duševního prázdna (The Alphabet of Spiritual Emptiness) published in 1946 enables a rare look, from a captive’s perspective, inside a Nazi forced labor camp in Breslau, Poland during World War 11. It is remarkable that Tmej, a Czech citizen made to work for the Nazi war effort for two years, was allowed to photograph at all, let alone describe the psychological stasis of his experience with the poetic voice that these portraits and still-lifes convey. Books on Books #10 presents every page spread from this extremely rare and fragile document including the original texts by Alexandra Urbanová translated for the first time into English. Czech photo historian Vladimír Birgus contributes a contemporary essay on Tmej called Zdeněk Tmej’s Conscripted Labor in Germany.
Books on Books #11 Alexey Brodovitch’s Ballet. Published in 1945 is one of the most legendary of photobook masterpieces. While already established as a leading influential art director and graphic designer, Brodovitch turned his photographic talents towards rehearsals and performances of ballet companies visiting New York stages. Shot in 35mm and disregarding traditional conventions of “good” technique, Brodovitch pushed the boundaries of description to create a panorama of images that perfectly captures the motion and spirit of dance. Books on Books #11 reproduces every dynamic page spread from this rarely seen volume along with a contemporary essay written by leading Brodovitch scholar Kerry William Purcell.
Books on Books #12 László Moholy-Nagy’s 60 Fotos sets forth the framework and ideas behind the ‘New Vision’ of modern photography from the legendary Bauhaus teacher and key figure in early experimental photographic practice. Published in 1930 as the first book in the planned Fototek series on ‘New Photography,’ 60 Fotos evoked a complex and multi-layered dialogue using some of Moholy-Nagy’s finest examples of ‘straight’ photographs, negative prints, photograms, and photomontage. Books on Books #12 reproduces every page spread from this classic treatise on photography along with a contemporary essay from the noted photo-historian David Evans.
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