Photobooks of 2017: Jeffrey Ladd
Peter Piller – Von Erde Schoner
In the age of photographic drones Petter Piller’s Von Erde Schoner (Prettier from the Ground) is a brilliant conceptual reordering of a discovered archive of images made between 1979 and 1983 of suburban houses in Germany photographed from the air. Part Becher, part Ruscha, this reprint makes Piller’s original from 2004 once again available.
Mary Frey – Reading Raymond Carver
Mary Frey’s work has been known to museum curators and some viewers for several decades garnering praise and respect, but with exception of a couple small catalogues, has remained largely unknown to a wide audience. Peperoni Books’ release Reading Raymond Carver brings Frey’s work on her Massachusetts community from the late-1970s and early 80s into the wider conversation that it deserves.
Depero Futurista (“The Bolted Book facsimile”) Designers and Books
Ok, it is not a photobook, but rather, the publishing event of the past several years. Fortunato Depero’s Futurista is a design masterpiece that should be seen and studied by everyone from any artistic discipline. Beautifully produced, this facsimile feels like you are holding a copy that was just unboxed from a lost stash of original editions. Depero was a brilliant futurist typographer, designer, painter, textile artist, poet, theorist, and this audacious (almost obnoxious!) self-promotion piece, bound together with huge industrial bolts shows his talent at every level. Depero sought to make “not a book, but a weapon, a machine, a racing car, a grenade.”
Florian Ebner & Thomas Weski (eds.) – Werkstatt für Photography 1976-1986 (Photography Workshop)
This catalogue examines the decade long series of photographic workshops organized largely by the German photographer Michael Schmidt. The Werkstatt für Photographie offered anyone who was interested a free space to develop their artistic talents, and did so by inviting many of the most important photographers of that era (Robert Adams, Robert Frank, Stephen Shore, Lewis Baltz, John Gossage, Larry Clark, William Eggleston, Lee Friedlander, Paul Graham and dozens of others) to exhibit, lecture and critique Schmidt’s students at the Volkshochschule – a local adult education center. In the words of many who attended, this was the photographic and artistic equivalent of the “Berlin Airlift” which would contribute to shaping the history of an entire generation of West German photographers as well as reciprocally shaping the work of many of the visiting artists.
Stephen Shore 1973-1981
Upon hearing of this book my first thought was, why do I need another collection of Shore’s work but the answer is clear in this surprisingly rich title. Comprised of selections of images made by David Campany, An-My Le, Paul Graham, Guido Guidi, Lynne Tillman, Takashi Homma, Francine Prose, Ed Ruscha, Britt Salvesen and others Stephen Shore 1973-1981 explores the artist’s work from that period through vastly different positions and perspectives.
Curren Hatleberg – Lost Coast
This first book by the talented Curren Hatleberg came out so late in 2016 it is more a 2017 title for those that discovered it. Using color medium format photography, Hatleberg weaves open-ended descriptions of everyday life of Eureka California centering on natural landscape and intimate photographs of its citizens.
Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown – Learning from Las Vegas (facsimile reprint of the 1972 edition)
In the late 60s a group of nine Yale students led by Scott Brown and Venturi photographed and analyzed Las Vegas with the goal of obtaining an understanding of an automobile-oriented city and documenting the aesthetics of urban sprawl in its “purest and most extreme form.” Although considered an “architecture” book more than anything, Learning from Las Vegas has influenced countless visual artists whose concerns of a city’s vernacular remain relevant today as ever.
Barry Stone – Daily, in a nimble sea
Barry Stone’s digitally glitched images interrupt the tide rhythms, sky and physicality of a small stretch of coastline of Bailey Island in Maine. In the book, pages of the digital code which makes up the images are sequenced alongside the photographic images they were extracted from bringing to mind the modern day genesis of an Eden of both reality and fiction.
Joachim Brohm and Valentina Seidel – Why is That Smoke Yellow
This seductively designed artist book is a collaboration between Brohm and Seidel. Conceived in homage to Michelangelo Antonioni’s movie Il deserto rosso, it presents photographs taken in and around the city of Ravenna in 2014-15, where the movie was shot in 1963-64.
Mao Ishikawa – Red Flower: The Women of Okinawa
The first United States monograph by Okinawan photographer Mao Ishikawa, Red Flower concentrates on photographs of women from 1975 to 1977 taken in Okinawa. Consisting of 80 images, many published in Ishikawa’s first book Hot Days in Camp Hansen, set alongside previously unpublished images in a handsome design with silkscreened covers.
Jeffrey Ladd is an American photographer born in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania in 1968. His work has been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, Oklahoma City Musuem of Art, International Center of Photography, Soros Foundation’s Open Society Institute, Museum of the City of New York among others. He is based in Cologne, Germany.
Images: top – Mao Ishikawa – Red Flower, below – Barry Stone – Daily, in a nimble sea, Depero Futurista (The Bolted Book facsimile)