Photobooks of 2016: Martin Amis
Astres Noirs by Katrin Koenning & Sarker Protick
A dazzling journey though dark and light, night and day in this gem of a photobook. In an unusual choice, the book is printed with silver ink which further heightens the beauty of Koenning and Protick’s imagery.
ZZYZX by Gregory Halpern
A strong edit, perfect sequencing coupled with Halpern’s extraordinary work make ZZYZX without doubt my favourite photobook of the year.
Discordia by Moises Saman
This is no ordinary reportage photobook. Through a dizzying sequence of double-page spreads, gatefolds, image sequences and collages we view Saman’s personal vision of the complex world he experienced first-hand. The photographer’s decision to self-publish, and not to buckle to a publisher’s inevitable compromises, had paid off dividends with this handsome if understandably heart-wrenching tome.
Alejandro Cartagena – Santa Barbara Return Jobs Back To US
Quite different to Cartagena’s other books and project, Santa Barbara Return Jobs Back To US flows through a variety of photographic styles to present an initially ambiguous portrayal of Santa Barbara, California. Through a cleverly sequenced torrent of images we slowly build layer upon layer of details and atmosphere. A book where a photographer and publisher’s joint skills blend to a very satisfying outcome
Arthur Bondar – Shadows of Wormwood
Arthur Bondar’s Shadows of Wormwood features photographs from the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl reactor some 30 years ago after the disaster. Cinematic in style, Bondar’s dark brooding images are undeniably powerful but it is the book’s simple unassuming design that also sticks in the mind.
Krass Clement – Impasse Hotel Syria
Images of Syria some fifteen years ago with hints of the shocking transformation to follow. Clement, the master of sequencing, has made a string of mostly little known but brilliant photobooks and this haunting book is no exception.
John Maclean – Hometowns
John MacLean travelled to twenty-five towns and cities around the world, conducting a layered investigation into the childhood environments of those artists whose work has influenced his own. The images in this self-published photobook are wonderful by themselves, but the gorgeous production lifts them to another level.
Mark Steinmetz – Fifteen Miles to K-Ville
Another in Mark Steinmetz long line of beautifully melancholic photobooks, ‘Fifteen Miles to K-Ville’ is a poetic journey around the outskirts of K-Ville: a fictional town somewhere between Knoxville, Tennessee and Athens, Georgia where graves dot the terrain and a sense of forbidding hangs heavy in the air. This modestly sized book is, for me, his best book since his Atlanta trilogy.
Peter Dekens – (Un)expected
(Un)expected is Peter Dekens’ moving and very personal project on those left behind following a loved one’s suicide. Smart unintrusive book design increase the power of this moving project.
Jack Latham – Sugar Paper Theories
Recipient of the Bar Tur Photobook Award, Sugar Paper Theories is Jack Latham’s hugely impressive multi-layered project on the biggest and most controversial murder investigation in Icelandic history.
Finally a mention for the handmade books that have come from Japan’s Reminders Photography Stronghold in the past few years. Following previous ‘hit’ books Silent Histories and Red String, this year has once again seen a string of exquisite productions including Recruit by Hiroshi Okamoto, Bike Kill by Julie Glassberg and The Pacific Tourist by Maki Hayashida. However the following two books were my favourites to come from this year’s crop:
Snowflakes Dog Man by Hajime Kimura
Long since sold out, Hajime Kimura’s latest handmade book was produced in an edition of just 69 copies and is heavily influenced by the Japanese Provoke-era of photobooks. It is with great regret that I mistakenly sold my last copy of this book. For an easier to source insight into Kimura’s world see his recent book Path In Between.
Picture Of My Life by Junpei Ueda
Another remarkable handmade book, Picture Of My Life was made in an edition of just 21 – the age of the author when both his parents killed themselves in quick succession. Incredibly poignant, this very personal photobook will hopefully like other books from the Reminder’s workshops be available as a more affordable edition.
Martin Amis founded Photobookstore in 2006, and is rarely more than 10 feet from a pile of photobooks.
Images – top: Snowflakes Dog Man by Hajime Kimura, below: Discordia by Moises Saman