This Week In Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

Just curious, but am I predictable in my unpredictability? If so, some of you must have seen this week’s column coming. Last Friday, we showcased some low-pro, under-the-radar type books you probably haven’t heard of. So of course, today, I’m busting out the big guns. Today, you get a sneak peak at three new photobooks by guys who are all over the place right now. A little fashion, a little journalism, and a bit of art to ease you into the Thanksgiving vortex. Will next week’s books be all about turkey slaughter and obesity? Stay tuned.

Speaking of Mr. Richardson, I suspect that some of you probably know him personally, this being a tight-knit industry and all. I’ve never met the man, but am quite familiar with his work. Last Friday, I showed his blog to my students, and the lead feature was a video of Terry making out with Chloë Sevigny, who was dressed, improbably, as Terry Richardson. (Just curious, but would you make out with Chloë Sevigny if she was dressed as Terry Richardson?) If you’ve ever stopped to ask yourself how anyone would end up like that, then you need to check out “Mom & Dad,” a new double-book production just released by Mörel Books in London. Two, minimalist black soft-covered books come together in a simple black slip cover. Mom, and Dad. Each is a raw, emotion-laden little ride through Terry Richardson’s past, through a documentation of each of his parents. Who, not surprisingly, seem like they’re bat-shit crazy. For all of the gloss of his editorial work, I think these volumes are intimate, and the photographs are well made. I can’t say it’s disturbing, even when his mother flips the bird to the camera, or shows off her octogenarian boobs. Because you kind of expect that from him. It’s tough to continue to shock, when the bar has already been set so high. The project is an edition of 1000, so grab one now, if you’re into this sort of a thing.
Bottom Line: Surprisingly tender, unsurprisingly crazy

To purchase Mom & Dad visit Photo-Eye

 

 

Our next book, “Iraq/ Perspectives,” by Benjamin Lowy, comes to us from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke, by way of William Eggleston. Mr. Lowy, who once offered me the chance to touch his shrapnel, (I assumed, incorrectly, that he was joking), received this book as a prize for winning the 2011 CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography. Mr. Eggleston was the judge, which gives the volume a high-art imprimatur. The smooth, black, hard cover consists of two separate projects shot in Iraq, where Mr. Lowy spent years documenting the war for various news outlets. The first is a set of pictures shot through the bullet proof window of an armored Humvee, and is intentional in it’s depiction of Iraqi street life at a remove. At first, I was put off by the lack of viscerality, of any real emotional connection to the subject matter. But then I realized that it was a metaphor for the way Americans actually experienced the war, which ate up so much of our hard earned cash, and left a trail of blood and detached limbs across that desert country, so many miles from here. Most of us probably couldn’t tell the difference between Basra and Tikrit with a gun to our heads, so the cool detachment of the photographs seems appropriate, upon proper reflection. The second set of images were shot through Military-grade night vision goggles, so they too present a green, altered perspective. One photo of some bound, gagged presumed prisoners of war will likely stay with me for a while.
Bottom Line: New-style journalism for the 21st C

To purchase Iraq/ Perspectives visit Photo-Eye

 

 

Finally, we come to “Interlacing,” a canvas-wrapped soft cover book released a few months ago by the Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland, and Steidl. It was published in conjunction with a major retrospective of Ai Weiwei’s career photographic output. By now, I’m guessing you don’t need me to tell you about Ai Weiwei, as his nasty detention at the hands of the Chinese Government has made him the most famous artist in the world. (And somewhere in London, Damien Hirst sheds a diamond-studded tear.) This particular book was sent to me in response to the article I wrote on Ai Weiwei’s behalf earlier this year, but it’s also available at photo-eye. As such, I thought it was appropriate to review it. Let me cut to the chase, for once, and just suggest that you buy this book. The breath of work to be found is astonishing, from early photos of the artist and his Chinese hipster buddies running around NYC in the 80’s, to the famed middle-finger images that include a Gaudi cathedral in Barcelona, the Duomo in Florence, and a sheep meadow in Xinjiang. It presents documentation of the rise of some now ubiquitous contemporary Chinese architecture, a set of cell phone images shot in 2009, and a series of individual portraits of the Chinese citizens that Ai Weiwei brought to Kassel Germany for the Documenta 12 festival in 2007. (That was his project: transporting 1001 Chinese citizens to visit the show as a cultural exchange.) There are probably 20 other sets of images here, beyond what I’ve already mentioned. It’s dense with prose as well, including reprinted Tweets. I may be biased, but this book makes a compelling case for why Ai Weiwei might be the best artist in the world right now.
Bottom Line: You should buy this book

To purchase Interlacing visit Photo-Eye

Full Disclosure: Books and scans were provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase. Please support Photo-Eye if you find this feature useful.

Jonathan Blaustein

There Are 9 Comments On This Article.

  1. I’m sorry but in my opinion Terry Richardson is a complete hack. I’ve recently canceled two magazine subscriptions that regularly feature his work. If I want to see flat, on camera flash, poorly composed images, I only need to look at my parents family album. Can you really think of no better background than a white wall for every single shot!? It just goes to show you that talent has absolutely nothing to do with who magazines hire. I long for the days when true artists like Avedon, Penn, and Watson were the choice of top magazine editors. I have to laugh when the print industry constantly laments and complains about how their sales are down and no one want to buy their publications. Stop serving up SHIT and we might want to partake!

    • I’ve been eagerly awaiting Richardson’s new book, Lowy’s as well. I’m extremely happy to see these reviews and can’t wait to get my hands on them!

      @Gavin: a photograph is more than just about beautiful lighting and beautiful composition. it has been and always will be about the emotion/ feeling that emanates from the image. also (and this is just icing on the cake), Terry Richardson’s book says something about himself as a person/ exudes a strong sense of identity. he very simply chooses to use a snapshot camera to build rapport with his subjects.

      are you familiar with Richardson’s commercial work? I can guarantee you he knows exactly how to properly light and compose a photograph.

      using your logic, “flat on camera flash, poorly composed images”, you might as well give Art Partner a call on Monday and tell them what a crap photographer Mario Testino is because guess what? he shoots the same way. oh yeah, Juergen Teller’s people and Ryan McGinley’s studio would love to hear from you as well.

      if you don’t identify with Richardson’s work, heyyy no worries! everyone has different tastes and it’s impossible to cater to every customer. there’s no reason for such disrespect.

      lastly, yeah – there are an overabundance of photographers out there in the world. however, the professional photographic community is very small and close-knit. you certainly won’t get blacklisted from receiving work – but your attitude isn’t necessarily conducive to your business relationships either.

  2. In answer to your question: No, I would not make out with Chloe Sevigny if she were dressed as Terry Richardson… (And as for the man himself: Wouldn’t touch him [or his "bat-shit crazy" parents] with a 10-foot pole!)

  3. Chloë Sevigny is dressed like Terry Richardson because TR was shooting her for Candy magazine. He also shot James Franco, in drag, for Candy.

    “Candy is the first fashion magazine completely dedicated to celebrating transvestism, transexuality, crossdressing and androgyny in all their glory.” http://byluisvenegas.com/zines/candy/

    I’m surprised you haven’t heard of Candy before, here’s Candy’s Editor as Anna Wintour. http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/the-devil-wears-anna#!/photos/97292/1 This got a lot of coverage from the main stream press.

    @Gavin, Terry Richardson doesn’t always use “white walls.” http://fashiongonerogue.com/eniko-mihalik-terry-richardson-harpers-bazaar-november-2011/

  4. I respect Terry’s work in that he’s gone so far shooting in such a simple honest fashion. I’m a big fan of Bob Richardsons work. I love it so much and do see some of that loose and honest approach to Terry’s work.

    Art is subjective to say the least and I don’t agree with much of it if I look at based on technical merits however its more about who sees your work and what you shoot then how you shoot.

    I’m sure I’ll see plenty of silly “art” in two weeks at Art Basil here in Miami. Congrats to anyone that can create art in their vision and get paid well like Terry or Miko Lim for that matter.