Photobooks of 2018: Simon Baker
My top 10 Photobooks of 2018 in no particular order:
Sour Strawberries by Lin Zhipeng (No.223)
223 is one of my favourite discoveries of 2018, even though I feel that I should already have known about this brilliant and important artist. His latest book, a project by Pierre Bessard, brings together 223s stunning photographic work with a beautiful and intelligent design that evokes, and plays with, the logic of the censorship of explicit images. Each pixelated photograph is printed on the outside of uncut pages which, when cut, reveal the same complete image within.
Die of Love by Hideka Tonomura
Tonomura published three books this year, two with Morel Books, and now the most recent with her Tokyo gallery Zen Photo. All three deal with troubling and sometimes confusing images (mostly of the same woman/collaborator) in the turbulent throes of various kinds of play and pleasure. The title of this book however, Die of Love, refers not to the subject of the photographs but to photography itself, a medium that seems to have Tonomura by the throat and yet which she dominates completely.
Hypermarche – Novembre by Motoyuki Daifu / Michel Houellebecq
A surprising collaboration between two very different artists – beautifully done.
No More No Less by Kensuke Koike / Thomas Sauvin
Thomas Sauvin took a gamble with his collaboration with Kensuke Koike, sending the hi-res files of the project No More No Less to three different publishers and asking them not to show him anything until the books were published. All three are great, and deal elegantly with the exacting logic of Koike’s work, but my personal favourite, if forced to choose, would be the Chinese version by Jiazazhi press.
My TV Girls / Starring / The Diary of Tom Wilkins by Sebastien Girard
Three absolutely stunning books from an archive of photographs discovered by Girard but transformed on the page through the most sumptuous silkscreen process. Fetishism carried out to the limit in both the content and production…
The Bliss of Conformity by Ying Guang Guo
One of my favourite projects of recent years, engaging with the strange (to outsiders) practice of parents looking for partners for their unmarried children in a park in Shanghai. Ying’s response to presenting herself in person (in place of the usual advertisement) is a challenging but stylish combination of performance, document and abstraction. A very strong book from a Paris-based Chinese publisher.
Too Close is Not Enough by Adele Gratacos
A very strange but endlessly seductive little book. Handmade and consisting of an apparently undifferentiated collection of images (both found and made) and text, it feels like a map of influences, responses and provocations. Surprising in the best way.
Le Gyroscope Humain by Ivan Alechine
This book was suggested to me by Clement Kauter at Plac’Art Photo in Paris, who always seems to find something new, and so his recommendations should be taken seriously… This book, also with both text and image, was printed on an old Mexican press in Oaxaca, on very fine ‘papier revolucion’ the photographic reproductions set in a range of subtle and beautiful colours – truly magical.
Victor & Sergey Kochetov, Kochetov, Moksop
Despite its evident echoes of the hand-coloured photographs of Boris Mikhailov, who also makes cameo appearances here, this father and son-produced book adds significantly to a wider understanding of a little context and practice. The very strong design also makes it a must-have…
Subterranean River by Lukasz Rusznica
The deep red and blue cover suggests the play of colours at work in this very strong book. A visually compelling response to what you would have thought a worn-out premise – a European photographer going to Japan. Segoi!
Simon Baker is the director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie.
Images: top – Kochetov by Victor & Sergey Kochetov, below Subterranean River by Lukasz Rusznica