Publications we loved, and the big news stories from the last month in photobooks – including the nominees from the 2019 Mack First Book Award and an interview with photobook collector extraordinaire Manfred Heiting
“If we don’t look at them, or if we try to sanitise it, then it’s not honest to this brutal experience of being homeless,” says Danish photographer Thilde Jensen, who is currently raising funds to publish an impressive four year project on homelessness in America, The Unwanted. Shot over four years in four American cities – Syracuse, Gallup, Las Vegas, and New Orleans, Jensen is currently raising funds on kickstarter to publish the project as a book, which will include 120 colour images, as well as a poem by Gregory George – a homeless man she met in New Orleans – and an essay by Gerry Badger.
In 2014, Troy Charles knocked on the door of 2411, Mason Avenue, Las Vegas, hoping to find his ex-girlfriend. Instead, he encountered Stefanie Moshammer, an Austrian photographer who was living in the US for three months to work on a project. They spoke for five minutes, exchanging a few sentences. One week later, Moshammer received a typewritten, 35-line love letter, which told her: “I can be your ticket to USA citizenship”. In Not just your face honey, which takes its title from another extract from the letter, Moshammer documents the ambivalent feelings this unforeseen, obsessive declaration of love provoked. Central themes include love, illusion and identity, as well as ideas of the past, present, and future. “Of course, the series is about my personal letter, but it’s also about Las Vegas and how men try pursue women through the movie-esque American dream,” she says. In the letter, Charles offered Moshammer marriage, a room in his house, and a “cute, special fast car that’s almost new”. Though intended to be romantic, the propositions struck her as sinister, …
Under the back garden of an unremarkable family home in Las Vegas is an extraordinary 16,000sq ft, all-pink, bomb-proof bunker. Inside are decadent bedrooms decorated with crystal chandeliers and baby pink wallpaper, and a bathrooms with a hot-pink toilet, white marble hot tub, and opulent golden fittings. Surrounding the house is a hand-painted mural of the countryside, and an underground garden with a swimming pool and fake trees growing out of a carpet that stands in for grass.
“It’s basically a house within a house,” explains Juno Calypso, who spent three days of solitude in the bunker, for her project What To Do With A Million Years. Designed to be safe from any disaster or intruder, the bunker was built in 1964 by Avon cosmetics founder Gerry Henderson and his wife, who were terrified of a potential nuclear breakout in the advent of the cold war.
Calypso is currently showing the series at London’s TJ Boulting gallery, and has transformed the basement space into a version of the garden, complete with fake plants, eerie mood lighting, and a soundtrack of soft romantic rock that plays against the continuous sound of running water from a stone fountain in the corner.
From vacant parking lots to intimate street portraits via expansive stretches of the Mojave Desert, the Las Vegas of Jack Minto’s project, Maryland Parkway, is somewhat unfamiliar. Bypassing the glitzy lights, flamboyant buildings and raging commerce that characterise the famous Strip, the 21-year-old photographer turns his lens on a nondescript parallel road, two miles east of the action and home to many “misplaced” local residents, in a bid to expose the harsh reality of a city divided by economic inequality.