Hannes Wanderer has shared a selection of 10 books that really caught his attention this year:-
1. Mariken Wessels – Taking off. Henry My Neighbor
The story is quickly told, but the visible legacies that Mariken Wessels has compiled in this book of madness, are strong stuff. Henry and Martha live as a married couple in the suburbs of New York. Henry photographed thousands of nude pictures with his wife and muse as model. One day Martha enters Henry’s ›forbidden room‹. The room is wallpapered with her nude pictures. Confronted with this sight she tears the pictures off the wall, throws them literally out on the street, breaks her relationship with Henry, who stays behind alone. The remains of the photographs he turns into disturbing meat- and skin collages. After the collages he creates clay figures, even further removed from the actual appearance of his wife. Then he disappears, probably into the woods. Neighbors found the pictures and sculptures in the abandoned apartment. Martha lives elsewhere a lonely life since.
It’s a stroke of luck that this material has got into the hands of Mariken Wessels and that she was given permission, also by Martha, to work with it and to make a book, as she found a very smart and sensitive way to deal with the pictures and sculptures. Accompanied by a short intro with family photos and some interior shots of Henry’s studio, which, among others, show the walls decorated with thousands of nude shots before and after Martha’s intervention, she just presents the complete catalog with all photographs, collages and sculptures. A swirl of human obsessions and abysses – fascinating and scary at the same time.
2. Pierre Defaix – 2224 Kolkata
This book is a trip!
I never thought that I would publish another book with pictures from India. Until Pierre Defaix showed up with his photos from Kolkata. So strong. Took 5 minutes and it was clear, that this must become a Peperoni Book.
Now it’s done and it’s damn good. Let’s don’t talk about when and how Pierre did it, let’s dive. With all our senses, with hands and feet, body and soul. A wobble, a bustle, a madness, a turmoil. And so tender, so quiet, so sad, so true. People, animals, vegetables, fish and gold rings on the little toe. Symbols, light, fire, water. A folly of brilliantly composed spreads. But we don’t even think about it. Further, further. To the rose, the smoke man, the chicken feet, the golden leaf.
Maybe these pictures were photographed with a camera. But they feel like a direct circuit to the brain of an overpowered Kolkata visitor. A masterpiece!
3. Otto Snoek – Ukranian Crossroads
A great book with pictures that Otto Snoek photographed between 1989 and 1992 during various trips to the Ukraine. The last years of communism, the dissolvement of the Soviet Union and the transition to market economy constitute the historical background. Snoek photographed on streets and squares, wherever people are to be found in their daily lives. His pictures show a desperately poor, embattled country with people suffering and struggling, wrangle and yet proudly and courageously face their fate. With its outstanding photographs the book actually doesn’t need any words. But the afterword by Sana Valiulia is pretty lethal anyway. About the ancient Greeks she writes: ›They read what was to come in what happened in front of their eyes. All their tragedies are about the past in which the future is contained.‹
About the future of Ukraine I hardly like think.
4. Kikuji Kawada – The Last Cosmology
Lots of photobooks dealing with outer space at the moment. ›Planetes‹, ›Big Sky Hunting‹, ›From Above and Below‹ and lately ›Actions of Consequence‹. This one with photographs shot from 1980 – 2000 is definitely one of the most stunnng and fascinating. Great imagery!
Kikuji Kawada says: “I was born at the beginning of the Showa Era. There was a great war during my boyhood and then I lived during the period of re-construction and growth and now I slowly approach the evening of life. Through these photographs the cosmology is an illusion of the firmament at the same time it includes the reality of an era and also the cosmology of a changing heart.: – Spirited words – but these photographs endure.
5. Paddy Summerfield – Mother and Father
Maybe from 2014 but I must include it here. One of the strongest books I’ve ever seen. People left my 25books store with the book in their hand and tears in their eyes by the numbers. Paddy Summerfield has photographed his elderly parents – the last 10 years of their lifes. His mother is ill with Alzheimer, the father takes care of her and the garden. He mows the lawn, maintains the shrubs and trees, arranges garden furniture. There he sits with his wife. Or she sits there alone. Maybe he brings a pot of tea. A gesture, a hug. They are together yet isolated. Paddy Summerfield has found the right distance. He stays in the house, overlooks the garden through a window or a door, gazes at his parents long time and displays them as small vulnerable characters in their universes, which are drifting apart. Moved and full of concern.
One last time they make a trip to the sea, overlook the water, watch the beach birds.
Single images would be considered as banal snapshots in the family album. But as a series they have an emotional impact, I have rarely experienced. A man loses his wife, the son in the end loses mother and father. Finally, the garden furniture stands in the tall grass. Nobody mows here anymore.
Hannes Wanderer has dealt with printed matter since his childhood days as his parents owned a printing company. He worked as photographer, designer and preprint specialist until he founded his own publishing house Peperoni Books in the year 2004. Since 2009 he also runs the Berlin based photobook store and webshop 25books.