Photobooks of 2019: Rob Hornstra
Are They Rocks or Clouds? by Marina Caneve
This book is overlooked, but buy it and you won’t regret it. The central question is what role we – human beings – play in natural catastrophes such as landslides, floods or earthquakes. Like a swamp, you are slowly sucked into the matter, after which it won’t let you go.
Parliament of Owls by Jack Latham
I was already a fan of the previous book ‘Sugar Paper Theories’ by Jack Latham and now also of the successor ‘Parliament of Owls’. Latham’s work is about conspiracy theories on subject of his own choice, to which he eventually contributes with his own work. I have great admiration for authors who deal with existing subjects that are difficult for photographers to access or to visualise. Latham does not choose the hip and easy way of collecting and editing archive material and online sources. He continues to tell his stories, which are difficult to visualise, mainly by means of beautiful, unfathomable photography. Also a compliment to the publisher Here Press for again a beautifully challenging book they have produced.
American Origami by Andres Gonzalez
Important societal topic, good visual research and a bold design concept by Hans Gremmen. Extra nice is that you can keep browsing for hours in this book and discovering new things. Now I still hope that it will be picked up in the right people.
New Dutch Views by Marwan Bassiouni
Subtle design that fits the fantastic visual concept. Original way to talk about the relationship between Islam (in the form of mosques) and a society (in the form of landscapes). I wish Bassiouni could carry out his project on a larger scale than just the Netherlands.
Trigger: Impact by Various authors
This is a publication that everyone should read because it deals with the most important challenge in contemporary photography. In my opinion not the question of how to create a good photo project, but how to generate impact through that photo project.
Attention Servicemember by Ben Brody
Although I am not a fan of books about wars in the Middle East made by Western photographers, I have to admit that I make an exception every year. This year for Ben Brody’s Attention Servicemember, partly due to the great design by Kummer & Herrman. Brody makes a complicated balance between the propaganda photos he produced during war and a critical look at what’s going on around him, including his own role.
The Parallel State by Guy Martin
This is a beautifully designed book in which the Turkish soap opera and film industry is intertwined with the question of what reality is in contemporary Turkey. An absolute must have for anyone who loves to get confused.
Silver Creek by Lucas Leffler
Fascinating story for photo geeks about the Belgian factory Gevaert that dumped residual chemicals from the production of photographic film in a creek. Leffler investigates, visualises and finally jumps into the creek himself to see if he can make visual works out of the contaminated slurry at the bottom of the creek.
Suzi et Cetera (part 2) by Boris Mikhailov
This book can be seen as an addition to the original Suzi et Cetera. In collaboration with Mauro D’Agati (89 Books), Mikhailov selected works that had often been shown in exhibitions in the context of this series, but not included in the original publication. Simple and visibly produced with love and care: Irresistible to me.
Elf Dalia by Maja Daniels
The book that everyone loves! An intriguingly mysterious story that reads like a fairy tale. Although a lot of archive material is used, Daniels is able to hold my attention by alternating with her own super-strong photography.
Rob Hornstra (b. 1975, NL) is a photographer of predominantly long-term documentary projects, both at home and around the world. In 2009, he started The Sochi Project, culminating in the retrospective book An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus and an exhibition that toured Europe, America, India and Canada. Currently he is working on ‘The Europeans’, a new multi-year project on European Heartland regions. Four times per year he runs a popular live talk show about photobooks in his hometown Utrecht. He is head of the photography department at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague
Images: top – Parliament of Owls by Jack Latham, below – Are they Rocks or Clouds? by Marina Caneve, American Origami by Andres Gonzalez