Photobooks of 2019: Eva-Maria Kunz
I’m starting out my 2019 noteworthy book list with my 2018 entry. This is what I wrote on Instagram then, it is still true now: I knew it would happen. The day after I sent off my list of noteworthy photobooks of 2018 to Martin Amis’ @photobookstore, this book came in: “Half-Light” by Shahrzad Darafsheh. It would certainly have ended up on said list. I confess, I’m very biased regarding the subject matter, just having spent the last months figuring out how to photograph anything from utter pain, over lack of control to deep darkness and bright light. While I don’t find all of this in “Half-Light”, I certainly can relate so much to what I see. And I love that the book reads backwards, for us Westerners. Published by Gnomic Books.
Now, the 2019 books. “Oyster” by Marco Marzocchi, published by VOID, is the one that stuck to my mind and gut the most. A stream of conciousness in pictures and form, given it’s an accordion book, it’s loose and free, but very dense. More classical as a book, but with a similar “assembling” of pictures, there is “Exotica” by Alessandro Bo, published by Inframundo. And I’m adding also “A Journey in Reverse Direction” by Zhu Lanqing, published by Jiazazhi Press, and make this a trio. We are taken into her family memories and through this, we learn about Chinese culture from the inside.
For the found picture books, of which there are very many, I have on my table: “Buried” by Charles Fox, published by Catfish Books, image copyright by the Rama Family. Even knowing that keeping photographs can get you killed, you hold on to them just the same, that’s what the Rama family did through the Khmer Rouge era. “Jamais je ne t’oublierai” by Carolle Bénitah deals with the lack of her own family photos “as if in search of missing pieces from her past” as Laura Serani puts it. Published by l’Artiere, it’s also a beautiful object.
For the difficult books, that deal with what we don’t really want to see or be confronted with, my choices are “Culture of Confrontation” by Maxim Dondyuk, selfpublished, and “What Remains” by Alberto Gandolfo, published by SilvanaEditoriale. The first takes us back to the Maidan, into the thick of it, a confrontation still not solved. The second one investigates what it means to be left behind, after your loved one, your close family member, your friend or colleague has been murdered and oftentimes there is no culprit, or it is the institution you should be protected by. It spans 40 years, and sadly it’s very actual.
Last but not least, “Over.State” by Ilias Georgiadis, published by Blow up Press, satisfies my need for grainy black and white, some design quirks, and my feel and smell buds.
I won’t mention books such as “The Coast” by Sohrab Hura for example, not because I don’t love them (I do!), but because they’re on other lists already. And I’m curious to see what pops up in my mailbox tomorrow and I can fall in love with.
Eva-Maria Kunz is a book collector and co-founder/creative director at ceiba editions, a small independent publishing house, based in Italy.
Images: top – A Journey in Reverse Direction by Zhu Lanqing, below – Oyster by Marco Marzocchi