Photobooks of 2017: Colin Pantall

Photobooks of 2017: Colin Pantall


I haven’t seen as many books as I have in previous years so I know there are some obvious ones missing. But here are some books I have really enjoyed this year for all kinds of reasons.


Brenda Moreno – B to B
Ah, this is a bit different and a little odd. Published by Witty Kiwi, it tells the story of Brenda Moreno’s childhood and her love of horses. It comes complete with cut-outs, collage and a unique way of seeing. It’s stayed with me. And I like that.


Paul Gaffney – Perigee 
I always like the books Paul Gaffney makes.  In Perigee, Gaffney’s working practice blends with the landscape and the realised book form to beautiful effect. Here you get two books, a white one and a black one, one of polaroids, one of his dark prints, both investigating the language of the forest and the night.


Mathieu Asselin – Monsanto
There are very few books that have the scope, ambition and communicative directness of Mathieu Asselin’s Monsanto. What makes it really special is its accessibility. This is a book that has been photographed, written and designed to be understood. A supremely effective photobook that is relentless in its critique of Monsanto.


Vincent Ferrané – The Milky Way
This is a series of images of Ferrané’s wife breastfeeding her child. It’s a picture of devotion, exhaustion and infinite patience (both with her child and her husband). It doesn’t need any words. I just love it.


Anne Golaz – Corbeau
I’m not entirely sure what is happening in Corbeau. It’s the story of siblings, of those who leave and those who remain. It’s the story of the death of a traditional way of life, of life on the margins. Most of all it’s a book about farming, and it’s a story beautifully and enigmatically told.


Rosa Verhoeve – Kopi Susu
This is just out and it’s a beautiful and delicate meditation on Verhoeve’s Indo-Dutch heritage. Printed on two papers, with evocative juxtapositions, it mixes family album nostalgia with Verhoeve’s own take contemporary Indonesian identity.


Jindrich Štrysky – Emilie Comes to me in a dream
This is not so much a reprint as a facsimile done as a labour of love./ It’s a pornographic, surrealist dreamscape with tipped-in prints loosely bound. It’s absolutely beautiful.


Kazuma Obara –  30/Exposure
With this work that looks at the  history and aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster, Obara continues to take his blending of hard documentary with the conceptual and the material. Originally published in an edition of 56, a new edition titled Exposure makes this beautiful work now affordable and available to a wider audience.


Awoiska van der Molen –
The thing about van der Molen’s work is the large scale prints that suck you into dark landscapes that connect van der Molen’s inner world to the harsh environments she immerses herself. Blanco doesn’t try to compete on that level but uses the roughness and modesty of this very simple book to create its own world.


Junpei Ueda –  Picture of my Life
This was originally published by Reminders Photography Stronghold in an edition of 21. Now it has been reissued by Ceiba, but with production values that match the original. It’s the story of Ueda’s parents, their suicides (within weeks of each other), and the chaos, guilt and eventual closure that resulted.


Matt Eich – I love you, I’m leaving
This is another Ceiba publication, a beautiful (and text free) evocation of the distance between Eich and his family as he struggles to balance work and domestic life. It’s touching and actually very sad, a universal story with a personal edge.


Larry Sultan – Pictures from Home
It’s something of a reprint year at Mack with classics by Fukase, Soth and Sultan showing that class tells. The reprint of Pictures from Home is especially welcome and brings Sultan’s epic welding of the geographic, corporate, domestic and photographic perspectives to an even wider audience.


Colin Pantall is a writer, photographer, curator and lecturer based in Bath, England.  His book All Quiet On The Home Front has recently been published.


Images: top – Matt Eich – I love you, I’m leaving, below – Anne Golaz – Corbeau, Awoiska van der Molen – Blanco