Edit: Top Photo Books of ’08
– When I made my original best of 2008 list I left off a few books that I had yet to buy but knew were going to be some of my favorites of the year. I just recently was able to get copies of these 3 books and I have to say they are actually my top 3 of the year. Each succeeds in both a wonderful series of images as well as beautiful design of the actual book. It also is very exciting that 1 of the books was self published and the other 2 are from new small publishers.
101 Billionaires – Rob Hornstra (self-published)
Rob Hornstra’s book is quite possibly my new favorite photo book. Taken with a large format camera, the pictures are rich and colorful and create a beautiful survey of post cold-war Russia leaving out the 101 billionaires that it is named after, instead focusing on the youth of the recovering world power.
Under Vladimir Putin’s rule, Russia has reclaimed its position among the superpowers of the world in the past eight years, the economic recession and the tumultuous nineties seemingly all but forgotten. Thanks to the country’s huge abundance of raw materials such oil and natural gas, the Russian economy is flourishing as never before. After a mere 18 years of capitalism, the January 2008 issue of Finans Magazine reported that there are currently 101 billionaires in Russia. It is difficult to detect much prosperity in the book “101 Billionaires”, which portrays an entirely different segment of the Russian population. Far away from the glitter and glamour of Moscow, the world’s most expensive city, we find the impoverished Russians, victims of the ‘tough-as-nails’ capitalism with which Russia made its name immediately after the fall of Communism.
Excerpt: All Most Heaven – Santiago Mostyn (TV Books)
Excerpt: All Most Heaven is Mostyn’s first book, it chronicles his two years of communal travel in America. This book excites me in so many ways. The images are of course beautiful, but the story that unfolds through both the found imagery and Santiago’s writings are my real love for this book. They work in perfect unity with the actual series and make the book a complete piece. This book really is a must have.
The book came out of a need to resolve disparate strains of creative output into a form that, by the process of its creation, would give me a sense of resolution about what I’d been through over two summers of building rafts and taking a vaudevillian variety show down the Mississippi River with a band of fellow performers. And, of course, that would show these experiences in a way that was as open to anyone’s personal logic as it could be true to my own.
In its design, I wanted to address the assumptions we usually have about photography books by treating text as image as well as narrative content, and by using images to craft a multitude of loose story lines that pointed to a central motif but refused to lay it bare. Placing old prints found in abandoned houses next to photographs made now, in front of those same houses, linking simple gestures from the past with gestures and expressions of the friends I was photographing, imitating civil war photographs and then imitating flight, all these techniques served to relate a personal experience of the River and American West with the historical.
© Santiago Mostyn
Naini and the Sea of Wolves – Trinidad Carillo (Farewell Books)
I have been waiting for months to get a copy of Trinidad Carillo’s Naini and the Sea of Wolves. While I was at Dashwood the other day I noticed they had a few copies and had to buy it. The beautiful book printed by Farewell features Carrillo’s daughter Naini as the story’s main character and the book describes a world of poetic reality, in which dreams and memories are intertwined.
Through her camera, Trinidad Carrillo gives us glimpses into a seemingly mystical kingdom, a world populated with the stories and faiths of people and places that are significant to the photographer’s own life. Her intuitive manner of working transforms staged and everyday situations into powerful poetic images. The photographer appears to be visualizing her longing for something in her past, something that in the end is deliberately kept unrevealed for reasons that we are left to ponder.