To effectively split my list into two halves from the start: There are a number of books that I have not reviewed this year, that I am not adding to this bedroll of notable books from 2017. There were some giant books published by Steidl, including the Gordon Parks Collection, and David Freund’s “
So what is left, the best of the rest? I don’t mean to say that these are lesser books, but they do have more in common, and there are some interesting thematic links. Without further ado, my notable list for 2017.
Landscape and Longing, Sternfeld, Gohlke, Mehta. Steidl
I excitedly Tweeted about this book in May, having discovered Suketu Mehta’s enveloped essay at the back of the book. I liked how the writing displaced the boundary of where longing has a place, which is a neat trick given how writing is photography’s nearest
Walden, S.B. Walker, Kehrer Verlag
The photographer Walker returns to Henry David Thoreau’s pond. These pictures ironize the place, altering the place surrounding the seminal environmental text. It may be said, the whole project of simple living as social action, and closeness to the
Halo, Kawauchi, Aperture
And what would an elemental photography of fire, and water, and air look like anyway?
One: Minimalism and Photography, Various, Radius Books
The book uses a nice quote from the author of “The Little Prince”… “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” It reminds me of how Georges Perec managed once to write a whole novel without using the letter “e”. “One” simultaneously defines the maximal impulse as the other side of more or less the same coin.
New Realities, Various, Rijksmuseum
This follows the
Photobook Phenomenon, Various, Editorial RM
Think of Scotland, Parr, Damiani
What do you say about Martin Parr?
A Glass Darkly, Kevin Lear
Made in the 1970’s, these photos, like the rest of the books I have tried to choose, have distinctiveness, singularity, and incomparability: A vision, lacking a better word. These are images of the world turned upside-down, and are surreal distortions of the
Eternal Friendship, Durand, Siglio Press
What is it? A graphic novel? A fictional revision of an archive? A melodrama? All of the above! The story is told in a
Listening to Images,
Forever now, the turn in photographic criticism to “read” pictures has been in the rear-view. Over the last few years, books with little legitimate claim to do so (catalogues of fashion pictures, books of ambient, unfocused and ethereal cloudscapes) have all referenced French Semiotics to the degree that the reference to Roland Barthes critically legitimized “art” photography, but over and above that legitimization, this tendency has shaped a way of seeing. For this reason, I have long felt the need in the discourse for a new way of evaluating pictures, inasmuch as discourse can be used as an instrument to understanding. It seemed promising how psychoanalysis and philosophy made inroads into film theory, making local, minor sensations a worthwhile locus for criticism.