Photobooks of 2018: Mariela Sancari
acaso las flores by Cecilia Reynoso
acaso las flores, recently published by Asunción Casa Editora, an independent publishing house based in Buenos Aires, combines photographs from Cecilia Reynoso’s acclaimed series La Familia Flores –vibrant and crowded pictures of her extended family in gatherings and celebrations– with screenshots taken from Luchino Visconti’s iconic movies –Rocco and his brothers, Obsession, Death in Venice, among others. This surprising and unlikely pairing refers to the unconscious references present in artistic practice, a subject rarely addressed. Dormant, invisible images that are part of a collective unconscious accessed by the artist when, for instance, taking a photograph. Cecilia Reynoso daringly moves the focus from her own work to the working process, relating her images to a vast, invisible world of references. This thought provoking iteration inscribes into the rare group of meta-books.
Note: I am not unbiased with this book: I was part of the editing team, invited by Asunción Casa Editora and thoroughly enjoyed every moment working on it.
Six short stories by Erika Ruiz Vitela
Six short stories is an insightful photobook by Mexican artist and researcher Erika Ruiz Vitela, interested in personal narratives and autobiography. Consisting of six booklets that bring together her own photographs as well as archive material from her family albums, they are an attempt to unravel the author’s family history, while unfolding it. The images in every booklet are combined with short, witty, dark humorous texts, alluding to the complexities of family universe. All the booklets put together provide a potential understanding of family dynamics while also rejecting the idea of one fixed version of it. Published by Inframundo, a photobook publishing project based in Mexico City, created by Ana Casas, Ramón Pez and José Luis Lugo.
Santísimo Sacramento by Agustín Zuluaga Olarte (2nd edition)
Wrapped in a dark printed paper showing faded, fragmented pictures, Santísimo Sacramento –the name of the author’s mother– manages to convey a story in a touching and powerful way. Concerning the process of memory loss experienced by a person with Alzheimer’s disease, the book addresses the always intricate and fascinating subject of memory, related to images and photography. It is comprised of loose sheets (no binding) that refer to the fragmentation of memory. Also, this material aspect reflects on the fragility of “order” –as opposed to the confusion when suffering a mental illness– and the tragic process of losing memory.
In the heat by Arturo Soto
An exquisite book that explores the nuances of the representation of a place, Panama in this case, through the author’s personal experience, after living there for two years. Rooted in a traditional photo-documentary practice, Arturo Soto’s first book is a daring one, specifically in terms of its materiality. Printed as a duotone –resulting in a beautifully crafted object– stresses the duality of photography: images both show and document a place and, at the same time, function as a very personal recollection of it.
PM by Alejandro Luperca Morales
PM is the name of a newspaper, published in Ciudad Juárez, northern Mexico, from where Alejandro Morales Luperca has taken all the images for his project, images of brutally dead and dismembered bodies in crime scenes. He then carefully “disappears” the corpses with an eraser, in a powerful and thoughtful gesture that meditates on the representation of death in the media but also the problematic depiction of violence. The resulting images are phantasmagoric testimonies of the horror that, as oppose to what be supposed, only emphasizes the absence. We are left to see only the traces of erased bodies and, in doing so, we are constantly reminded of death and its brutality. PM is a small, risograph book published in México via a collaboration of Gato Negro Ediciones and Chaco Books, the latter based in Madrid
Mariela Sancari was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1976. Her work revolves around truthfulness and fiction in images, using personal narratives to explore the boundaries of the scope of photography as a means of representation. Her first book Moisés was selected by several curators and reviewers, such as Sean O’Hagan, Tim Clark, Erik Kessels, Jörg Colberg, Larissa Leclair, Yumi Goto and Colin Pantall, among others, as one of the Best Photobooks published in 2015. She has recently published her second book in collaboration with writer Adolfo Córdova: Mr. & Dr., a photobook aimed for children and youngsters that explores the notion of the unknown through images and text.
Images: top – In the heat by Arturo Soto, below – acaso las flores by Cecilia Reynoso