Best of 2019

Best of 2019: Bruno Ceschel

Larry B, 2019 © Liz Johnson Artur, Black Balloon Archive

Photobooks, exhibitions and a podcast: the founder of Self Publish, Be Happy picks out five highlights from a year in photography

Every year, BJP-online asks a selection of industry leaders to recommend the photobooks, exhibitions, and projects that stood out to them most. Throughout December and January, we will be sharing their nominations for the Best of 2019.

Writer and curator Bruno Ceschel is the founder of Self Publish, Be Happy (SPBH), an organisation that collects and publishes contemporary photobooks by emerging practitioners. Established in 2010, SPBH has played an important part in amplifying the self-publishing movement, organising international events and workshops and collecting more than 2,000 photobooks and zines in their studio in Dalston, London.

In 2012, Ceschel established SPBH Editions, publishing photobooks by photographers such as Cristina De Middel, Lorenzo Vitturi and Lucas Blalock, and in 2015, he published Self Publish, Be Happy: A DIY Photobook Manual and Manifesto with Aperture.

Below, Ceschel picks out his highlights from 2019.

Liz Johnson Artur

2019 has been an amazing year for photographer Liz Johnson Artur: a shrine in the Grace Wales Bonner’s ‘A Time for New Dreams’ exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries, a collaboration with Rihanna’s Fenty, and solo shows at the Brooklyn Museum in NYC and South London Gallery. Her powerful London exhibition ‘If you know the beginning, the end is no trouble’ organically collected Liz’s extensive documentary work of the lives of black people from across the African Diaspora and presented within a rich programme of events rooted in the black community of Peckham. 

Liz Johnson Artur, Peckham, 2019. Installation view at the South London Gallery, 2019. © Andy Stagg

Maison Européenne de la Photographie

The newly appointed director Simon Baker set the tone of his MEP Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris with the inaugural exhibition in March which explored contemporary identities featuring the work of two queer photographers, Ren Hang and Coco Capitan. And in September the entire museum was turned into the Maison Marocaine De La Photographie by Moroccan artist  Hassan Hajjaj. It is great to have another forward thinking museum in Europe that showcase photography.

© MEP / Emmanuel Bacquet 

The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion 

Photobook by Antwaun Sargent

Some books create social spaces, and The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion by Antwaun Sargent does exactly that. In showcasing the work of black photographers that operates within fashion and art, Sargent maps out and names a group of artists that is changing contemporary photographic language and creates a community around it.

Nyadhour, Elevated, Death Valley, California, 2019 © Dana Scruggs.

Dora Maar 

Exhibition at Tate Modern (November 2019 to 15 March 2020)

Finally in 2019 two major shows, at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and Tate Modern in London (a third one is forthcoming at the Getty Museum in LA), have claimed Dora Maar’s place in the history of photography. Curator Amanda Maddox’s nearly ten years research successfully gathered together the forgotten (ignored?) vast production of one of the most eclectic and innovative artists of the 20th century.

© Dora Maar/ADAGP, Paris/DACS, London.

Magic Hour

I’m a sucker for podcasts so when I discovered Magic Hour, a podcast in which Jordan Weitzman interviews photographers about their work and life, I went on a binge (there are many episodes available). Jordan geeky, excitable and informal interviews are enlightening and entertaining.

© Paul Mpagi Sepuya.

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