As parts of the world begin to ease out of lockdown, this month’s highlights are both virtual and IRL
In the first of a new series talking to visual creatives about life in lockdown, BJP editor Simon Bainbridge talks to the founder of Self Publish, Be Happy at his Airbnb in Milan – and how he came to launch his sell-out series of online masterclasses focusing on photobooks A decade ago, I was living in a studio flat in Clerkenwell. I moved in after Jodi Bieber moved out. And there were plenty of other local photography connections too: Adam Broomberg and Emma Blau both had studios in the block; Magnum Photos was around the corner; and my friend and neighbour, Bruno Ceschel, had recently given up working for Chris Boot. Sensing the emerging zeitgeist, he had just started receiving sacks full of mail after issuing a call out for self-published photobooks. Trying to make some sense of the flourishing independent photobook scene, Ceschel established Self Publish, Be Happy, showcasing the new titles – from books by long-established artists to teenagers producing zines from their bedrooms – on his new website, and running his first …
Our pick of exhibitions and new releases to look out for this month
Ten photographers have made it into the shortlist for the annual MACK First Book Award; the winning project will be announced in May at Photo London 2020
The multi-award winning founder of Dewi Lewis Publishing reflects on his success
An architect for more than 40 years, Badger took up photography while studying in the mid 1960s, going on to exhibit at major institutions in Britain and the US. But he is best known as a writer, critic and bibliophile, contributing dozens of essays on the medium, and editing key texts such as The Photobook: A History
Publications we loved, and the big news stories from the last month in photobooks, including American Winter by Gerry Johansson, Void’s Hunger project, and JA Mortram’s Small Town Inertia
Our pick of the key stories from the past week, including Paris’ Circulation(s) festival of emerging European photography, the first-ever Kyiv Photo Book festival, and Todd Hido’s Bright Black World
“These documentary practices coalesced into a visual culture which, with its aptitude for capturing and transmitting collective emotions, became a tool for political propaganda,” write Hannah Darabi and Chowra Makaremi. They’re talking about the work produced in Iran in the years 1979-83, the period after the fall of the Shah and at the start of the Islamic government and a time in which freedom of speech briefly flourished, they argue, before descending into something darker.
“These few years stand out on their own in terms of the country’s publishing history,” adds Makaremi. “The creation and distribution of books would never be as unfettered as it was during this period. Nevertheless, at the same moment, books were also progressively becoming instruments of political propaganda and publishing became the laboratory in which to experiment with every form of dissemination of emotions, ideologies, and opinions. This propaganda operated through the production of texts, but also, and especially as of 1979, through visual and pictorial production.”
Darabi is a visual artist and collector who was born in 1981 in Tehran but is now based in Paris; her collection of Iranian photobooks make up the backbone of Le Bal’s latest exhibition, along with her own photographic “reconstructions”, creating using contemporary photographs of Tehran and archive images such as family snaps, press images, and postcards. Makaremi, a tenured researcher and a member of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris, has “decrypted” the exhibition; in addition, Le Bal and Spector Books have worked with Darabi to create an accompanying photobook, with an introduction by Makaremi.
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