Publications we loved, and the big news stories from the last month in photobooks – featuring work by Peng Ke, Tom Wood, Paul Reas, Vivian Maier and the post-war PROVOKE group
It is estimated that 7% of the prison population in the UK has a learning disability, compared to around 2.2% of the general population. A study by Prison Reform Trust in 2008 found that people with learning disabilities are seven times more likely to come into contact with the police, five times more likely to be subject to control and restraint, and three times more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression, and spend time in solitary confinement.
These numbers are estimates rather than straight statistics because there is no system in place to screen, identify, and record whether a prisoner has a learning disability. In a research paper from 2005, psychologist John Rack estimated that around 20% of prisoners have some form of “hidden disability” which affects their performance in education and work settings. It’s worryingly disproportionate, and it begs the question – if prisons don’t have systems in place to even identify these people, how can they begin to give them the support they need to survive in a prison environment?
Laia Abril is no stranger to themes of distress. Bulimia, coping with the death of a child, the asexual community, virtual sex-performer couples – these are all topics that the Barcelona-based photographer has explored and attempted to demystify with her multi-layered, story-based practice. The subjects she tackles are complex and provocative, but ones she is able to connect with by way of female empathy, “where I can be involved emotionally”, she says.
Out of nearly 1000 submissions, the winners for this years Paris Photo/Aperture Foundation Photobook Awards, established in 2012 to celebrate the photobook’s contribution to the narrative of photography, have been announced at Paris Photo.
The Photobook of the Year award went to Laia Abril, for part one of her long-term project, A History of Misogyny, Chapter One: On Abortion (Dewi Lewis). The project is not about the experience of abortion itself, but about the repercussions for women who do not have access to legal, safe or free abortions, forcing them to consider dangerous alternatives that cause physical and mental harm.
When the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, most of the land in New Zealand belonged to the Māori tribes. The treaty prevented the sale of land to anyone other than the Crown, and was intended to protect the indigenous people against other European colonial forces. But within a century, the Crown had either bought, occupied, or outright confiscated huge portions of the country, leaving the Māori with only a few pockets of their sacred land.
The Whanganui river is New Zealand’s third longest river, home to the Whanganui tribes and seen as both their ancestor and source of spiritual sustenance. The land surrounding the river was once one of the most densely populated areas in New Zealand. But with the arrival of colonial settlers, it became a major trading post.
On 15 March 2017, after 140 years of negotiation – New Zealand’s longest-running litigation – the Whanganui river was granted the same legal status as a human being, meaning it would be treated and protected as an indivisible whole. Hundreds of members of Māori wept with joy as the lifeblood of their tribe, from which they take their name, spirit and strength, was given recognition as one of their ancestors.
Foam founder Marloes Krijnen, curator Yumi Goto, and photographers Rob Hornstra, Mark Power and Mariela Sancari highlight the photobook that have impressed them most so far in 2018 – including Senta Simond’s Rayon Vert, Christian van der Kooy’s Anastasiia, and John Myers’ The Portraits
Three winners and one special mention have been announced for the 2018 Prix du Livre at Rencontres d’Arles – and in all four cases, the books use archival or found photography. The Author Book Award went to Laurence Aëgerter’s Photographic Treatment, which is published by Dewi Lewis; the Historical book award went to The Pigeon Photographer, a collection of images by Julius Neubronner published by Rorhof; and – controversially – the Photo-text Book Award went to Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin’s War Primer 2, which was first published by MACK in 2011 but reissued in paperback this year. A special mention went to Giorgio Di Noto’s The Iceberg in the Author Book Award, which is published by Édition Patrick Frey.
It’s little more than a decade since Ricardo Cases took his first tentative steps into the world with his personal work, exhibiting as part of New Spanish Photography at Lodz Fotofestiwal in 2007, a group show that travelled on to China and Slovakia. More than a dozen solo shows followed across Spain over the next three years before his international breakthrough with the book Paloma al aire [Pigeons in flight], published by Dewi Lewis in 2011. Ostensibly, the book follows pigeon-fanciers in Valencia and Murcia going about a local racing ritual, painting male birds for a competition in which the winner is the cock that attracts the hen. But with its distinctive spiral-bound, notebook appearance, and Cases’ tight framing, emphasising the surreality of the chase, it acquired a cult following, marking the arrival of a singular talent. The unconventional traits to this and his subsequent works are clearly evident in his first major survey exhibition, on show in Madrid from 13 June to 22 July at the spectacular Sala Canal Isabel II, as part of this year’s Photo España.
“If you are on the lowest rung of society, if when you get on a bus people turn away from you, it’s nice to be noticed,” says Louis Quail. “It’s nice to be seen.” We’re talking about his project Big Brother, which won the portfolio review prize at Format International Photography Festival and has been published as a book by Dewi Lewis. Shot over the last six years, it’s a portrait of Quail’s older brother Justin, who is now 58 and has suffered from schizophrenia for his whole adult life. Quail doesn’t shy away from the obvious effects of his brother’s illness, showing his wrecked shoes and chaotic flat, and including police notes and medical records that speak of medication, sectioning and arrest. But his project also shows another side to Justin – one less familiar, perhaps, in our conception of the mentally ill. It includes Justin’s excellent drawings and paintings, his poetry, and his love of bird watching; it also shows his girlfriend Jackie, who also has mental issues and is an alcoholic, but …
If you caught the documentary What Do Artists Do All Day on him on BBC Four a year ago, you’ll have an idea of what Dougie Wallace is like – upfront, funny, and very, very energetic. You could say the same for his photography too, which though it’s been shot in a variety of places ranging from Mumbai, to East London, to outside Harrods, always bears his trademark wit and momentum. Now Wallace is showing his five book projects to date at the Bermondsey Project Space in London – Stags, Hens & Bunnies, Road Wallah, Harrodsburg, Shoreditch Wildlife, and a new title, Well-Heeled. A dogs-eye view of pampered pets, it’s now being published as a book by Dewi Lewis.