Thursday, 19 December 2013

Top photobooks of 2013

It’s that time of year to reflect, and with it comes a customary list of favourite photobooks selected by members of our Advisory Board here at 1000 Words Photography Magazine.

Lieko Shiga: SPIRAL COAST/album

There is a logic to Lieko Shiga’s photobook marvel SPIRAL COAST/album, but for now I want to remain as blissfully ignorant as possible. At this point in my relationship to this book I simply just want to look and become delirious for as long as possible. My favourite French surrealist writer, Georges Bataille, who I quote perhaps too often, once said something to the effect that it is the manner of expression that is more important than the content, that it the sensibility more than the intelligence in all its sensitive character that counts the most. Indeed. This book contains a bizarre yet respectable spirituality born from the disaster of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in an area of Japan that Shiga is from. But rather than pity, this book radiates an energy of reincarnation tainted with the sorrow of loss. It is a book that is at once beautiful by virtue of its wrongness.
Michael Grieve, photographer and Deputy Editor, 1000 Words

Zhao Renhui: A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World
The Institute of Critical Zoologists

What evolves when bees become dependent on caffeine, seeking drops of nectar from factory waste? The Institute of Critical Zoologists' recent publication, A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World, maps this subject and more with an impressive set of plates collated from considerable research, documents and field notes. Charting the curious flora and fauna that have changed as a result of human habitation or scientific manipulation, the pseudo-scientific study offers an encyclopedic visual lexicon, from fish tomatoes, venomous cabbage and bioluminescent squirrels to square apples. Beautiful images of specimens in the field or still lives at the lab, together with a narrative history, make every page a pleasure to explore.
Louise Clements, curator and Artistic Director, FORMAT International Photography Festival/QUAD

Emile Hyperion Dubuisson: FAR
ADAD books

FAR is a stunning first book from a new independent publisher, ADAD books, which debuts a deeply enigmatic series of photographs of life in the Yamal peninsula in Siberia. Dubuisson’s pictures were taken in the early 90s, but then damaged, lost and refound, so the published images offer an account not only of the incredibly bleak remoteness of the place depicted, but also the effects of the passage of time, evident in the scratches and scuffs on the surfaces of each image. The book is beautifully designed and sequenced, with a text (in both Russian and English) by Boris Mikhailov, reflecting on a series of photographs frozen in the eternal present.
Simon Baker, Curator of Photography, Tate 

Rinko Kawauchi: Ametsuchi

Ametsuchi - meaning heaven and hell in Japanese - arrived in 2013 courtesy of a near perfect photo trinity: Aperture, Rinko Kawauchi and Dutch designer Hans Gremmen, the result of which might be described as a work of photographic mysticism. It began fittingly with a dream. Seven years later Kawauchi was watching TV and, amazingly, spotted an identical image from that dream. This led her to southern Japan and, in turn, the annual and ancient practice of field burning. Ametsuchi is a remarkable meditation on transience, life cycles, and the human need for ritual. As I ploughed through 500 photo books at this year’s Les Rencontres d’Arles, the book stood out as a work of exceptional depth and ambition.

The term ‘mysticism’ comes from the Greek word ‘to conceal’. In a masterstroke of photobook design, each double page fittingly conceals hidden images, folded origami-style into the book’s spine.
Nicholas Barker, film maker and collector 

Todd Hido: Excerpts from Silver Meadows

Nazraeli Press

Fascinated by the idea that photography can be a vehicle for exploring the ‘architecture of his childhood’, Todd Hido once again sets out down the street that runs through his neighbourhood in Kent, Ohio where the artist grew up. Cinematic and highly-charged with a bitter-sweet intensity, Excerpts from Silver Meadows continues Hido’s trip from the innocence of childhood to the darker side of what prevails in his own adult universe.

Effortlessly blending portraits, interiors and brooding landscapes as well as appropriated images, it’s an intricate and complex tapestry that tells Hido’s own story while employing the power of suggestion to impressive effect. With lavish production values (the book is printed on matt Japanese paper with tipped-in images on the case binding), this oversized but elegant book marks Hido’s sixth monograph to date with the esteemed publisher, Nazraeli Press.
Tim Clark, Editor in Chief, 1000 Words