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.
“When 9/11 happened, I was four, so obviously I didn’t really know what was going on. But in terms of now, of how Muslims are portrayed in the media, I think it’s a very one-sided story. We’re all terrorists, evil, who want to take over this country. I mean, thinking back now, I was only four, so all I’ve experienced is that this country hates me.” So says one of the sitters in Mahtab Hussain’s You Get Me?, a series of portraits shot over nine years in Birmingham, Nottingham and London. It shows young, working class, British Asian men, a group which has been negatively depicted in the media since 9/11 but which Hussain hopes to portray in a more nuanced way.
The opening image in his latest book, Sacrifice Your Body, typifies Roe Ethridgeʼs approach. At first sight, itʼs just an ordinary product shot of a Chanel No 5 bottle and its packaging, but closer inspection reveals chipped paint, stray drops of perfume and an intruding wasp. Rippling the surface of a glossy ad with droll other-world elements, itʼs the kind of image thatʼs made him a star in contemporary art, fashion and advertising. Like Juergen Teller, he shoots both commercial and editorial (for the likes of Kenzo, Self Service, Acne Paper and W) alongside his own artwork, and has been shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize (in 2011, alongside Elad Lassry, who heʼs often cited with as evidence of a new trend for dry conceptualism). The Deutsche Börse organisers described his work as follows: “Blurring the boundaries of the commercial with the editorial, and the mundane with the highbrow, Ethridge’s conceptual approach to photography is a playful attack on the traditions and conventions of the medium itself.”
“Gentlemen, for what came ye into the wilderness? Not for conventional scholastic training; not for ranch life; not to become proficient in commercial or professional pursuits for personal gain. You came to prepare for a life of service, with the understanding that superior ability and generous purpose would be expected of you.” Located on an isolated desert ranch, east of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, Deep Springs is an all-male, liberal arts college founded a century ago by Lucien Lucius Nunn. The entrepreneur, who with his brother built the power station at Niagara Falls, devoted the last two decades of his life to what The New Yorker describes as “a novel form of education, an anomalous admixture of Christian mysticism, imperialist élitism, Boy Scout-like abstinence, and Progressive era learning-by-doing, with an emphasis on self-governance, leadership training, and the formation of strong character”.
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.”
David Campany’s celebrated exhibition, A Handful of Dust, traces the 20th century history of photography through this seemingly humble substance; as the show finally comes to London, we revisit the article on it he wrote for BJP back in 2015
The founder of Mack Books talks through the photographic exhibitions, events and publications that made his year