London-based publisher MACK Books is one of the world’s best-respected photobook makers. A leading producer of contemporary books, working with some of the most established artists in the field, MACK has also won acclaim for republishing hard-to-find classics such as Masahisa Fukase’s Ravens and Luigi Ghirri’s Kodachrome, and for supporting and promoting emerging artists, particularly through its prestigious First Book Award. In addition, MACK has published several books compiling writing on photography by artists such as Joan Fontcuberta, Allan Sekula and Victor Burgin. MACK was originally set up as steidlMACK in 2004 and was part of the Steidl publishing house, but its founder, Michael Mack, left the German company to go it alone in 2010. Now MACK’s work to date under both imprints is being showcased at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Australia, in an exhibition presented by Perimeter Books which features over 200 books and special editions, including MACK’s pioneering experiments in digital publishing via MAPP Editions. In most cases, visitors are able to hold, handle and read these rare and sometimes out-of-print photobooks.
Vanessa Winship’s biggest UK show to date, the first UK retrospective of Dorothea Lange, and a huge group exhibition including work by photographers such as Mary Ellen Mark, Dayanita Singh, Alec Soth, Chris Steele-Perkins, Daido Moriyama, Diane Arbus, Pieter Hugo, Bruce Davidson, and Boris Mikhailov – they’re all coming up this year at London’s Barbican Centre, in a season titled The Art of Change.
Sleeping by the Mississippi has been ranked with the great representations of the United States, including Walker Evans’ pictures of the depression, Robert Frank’s harsh vision of the 1950s and, more recently, the colour work of Joel Sternfeld. As Alec Soth’s seminal work goes on show in London and is given a handsome reprint by MACK, we revisit an interview with him from back in 2004 – when the series first came out.
Daniel Castro Garcia wins the $35,000 W. Eugene Smith grant to continue his work on the European migrant crisis – read more about the work in BJP’s interview with him, first featured in our September 2016 issue. l. “The fact that my mum and dad are foreign, it’s played a massive role in my life. When those two boats capsized, the way that was written about, the adjectives used, and the type of photographs – on a personal level, that resonated. I know the kind of things my parents went through when they moved to the UK, and I know they’ve contributed really positively to British society. It felt increasingly uncomfortable, the way they were representing people who effectively did what my parents did, for the same reasons – poverty. Some of the things that were written were just unbelievable bullshit about people that are just the same as any of us. What an individualistic, separatist, regressive mentality.”
“Being a photographer of dogs…I always felt there needed to be a more intelligent representation of the animal than the cute and fluffy images you tend to see online,” says Martin Usborne – photographer, publisher, and now picture editor of a book called Really Good Dog Photography. A collaboration between Hoxton Mini Press, which Usborne co-founded with Ann Waldvogel, and Penguin Books, Really Good Dog Photography contains work by some well-known, and sometimes surprising photographers, such as Alec Soth, Peter Hujar, Elliot Erwitt, and Ruth van Beek. It took “lots of looking” to put it together, says Usborne, and he enlisted Marta Roca, creative director of Four & Sons magazine, to help. BJP contributor Lucy Davies added interviews with many of the photographers plus a thoughtful introductory essay.
“The Hobbyist is the first major exhibition to explore the relationship between photography and hobby culture, focussing both on the photography of hobbies and photography as a hobby,” write curators Pierre Hourquet, Anna Planas and Thomas Seelig of the forthcoming show at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, The Hobbyist – Hobbies, Photography and the Hobby of Photography, which opens on 08 September. It’s a fair but also deceptively simple summary of this intriguing show, which is backed up by a busy events programme and a magazine (in place of a catalogue). “A phenomenon as diverse and participatory as the hobby can hardly be tackled through a classical exhibition alone,” write the curators, and the magazine reflects some of this diversity, including images by photographers such as Alberto Garcia-Alix, Bruce Davidson, Alec Soth, Mike Mandel, Ricardo Cases, and Kirill Golovchenko, vintage adverts for TVs, cameras and videotape recorders, an extract from Theodore W Adorno’s test The Culture Industry, a Q&A with Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane on their Folk Archive, and essays by contemporary cultural theorists such as Olivia Baeriswyl, Therese Steffen, and Doris Gassert.
ABC Photography, a children’s guide to photography featuring images by Martin Parr, Wolfgang Tillmans, Nan Goldin, Alec Soth, Sebastiao Salgado and many more, opens at the V&A Museum of Childhood this weekend. Inspired by the recent book edited by Jan von Holleben – who also shoots children’s books himself – the project takes one photographic concept per letter to explain ideas such as deconstruction, composition, exposure and perspective. The text, by Monte Packham, is child-friendly and witty, and draws on the images to make a satisfyingly holistic whole. An exhibition by Tom Hunter called Searching for Ghosts also opens at the V&A Museum of Childhood this weekend, featuring work made with children living on the Boundary Estate. ABC Photography is free, and is open until 11 June in London’s V&A Museum of Childhood. ABC Photography, ed Jan van Holleben, is published by Tarzipan Books. Searching for Ghosts by Tom Hunter is open until 21 January 2018.
“Everyone can take great pictures,” Alec Soth tells BJP at the opening of his first UK exhibition, Gathered Leaves, at London’s Science Museum. “What’s hard is taking a collection of great pictures and making them work together. It’s like language: everyone can speak but putting the words together is the real challenge.” Gathered Leaves meets that challenge head on. This is his new exhibition in London’s Science Museum, displaying a comprehensive set of pictures from a photographer widely considered the greatest contemporary explorer of the American psyche. Derived from his four books Sleeping by the Mississippi, Niagara, Broken Manual and Songbook, the work combines portraiture, landscapes and interiors, presented with a smattering of inspirational material. Though the subject matter ranges from portentous wide shots of waterfalls to bearded men clutching model planes to naked Neo-Nazi hermits it’s easy to deduce Soth’s common thread: we’re witnessing the less-travelled America. Soth’s work has taken him across the whole of the US, though it’s what are derisively called ‘the flyover states’ that firmly hold his attention. This is …
On my way out from interviewing Alec Soth, navigating the stairs from his publisher’s office, out into the rainy late-November evening outside, it seems appropriate – significant even – that it happened on London’s Denmark Street. This tiny diagonal lane on the flanks of Covent Garden has been a draw for musicians since Dickensian times, when the music halls and theatres nearby bought sheet music in bundles from the terraced shops on its route. Later, in the 1950s, it was host to a flourishing music publishing industry, becoming known as the British ‘Tin Pan Alley’, and later still The Rolling Stones and David Bowie sang into microphones in recording studios on their upper floors. These days, most of what’s left of that illustrious, sing-song past is a clutch of guitar shops and specialist music retailers – all under threat of redevelopment – the brassy-yellow light from their windows reflecting in the sheen of wet, gum-dotted pavement. Soth is here in London to lay the ground for a retrospective of his photography opening at Media Space …
British Journal of Photography’s March issue is about the long game, what it takes to spend a life making photographs, and what it means to return to a place that was once home. The issue is on sale in all good newsagents from the first Wednesday of February, or you can pre-order it now, directly from the BJP shop. Last month we featured the Ones to Watch, a celebration of the best emerging talents in photography. Now, we’ve gone in-depth with four photographers who have managed to keep going, even while remaining unsung. And who are, in their endurance, their dedication and their ability to adapt, each remarkable. Fame, or at least recognition, has found each differently, but it never struggled to locate Alec Soth, whose Sleeping by the Mississippi became one of the iconic series of the twentieth century. Now he talks about Songbook, a revisitation of his beginnings as a staff photographer on a suburban newspaper in Minneapolis. “To sustain myself creatively is to not give myself over entirely in one way or another,” Soth tells Lucy Davies. “And I like …