Much different than, for example, experiencing a photographer's completed series in a museum or gallery setting (let alone the severely limited availability of original individual prints), the photobook becomes a tangible, lasting, archival reproduction of the works -- a defining (and infinitely continual) experience of viewing.
Fractures and Other Injuries (2012)
Today, just as we're seeing the evolving technologies of digital cameras (including the tiresome Instagram and Hipstamatic off-shoots) transform contemporary photography, so too have digital printing capabilities and Internet-based distribution networks fueled what might be termed a new golden age for photobooks, particularly the independent practice of rapid and inexpensive production (or print-on-demand) in smaller print batches. The Cleveland Museum of Art opens a new exhibition this weekend, titled DIY: Photographers & Books, the museum's first ever show to examine this topic of modern publishing and its effect on photographic practice.
The Sun, pages 1-2, Volume 1
from Astronomical (2011)
Treating the photobook as an art object itself, the exhibition illustrates the variety of ways that photographers are approaching and utilizing the newly democratic format. As Barbara Tannenbaum, CMA's Curator of Photography, sums it up:
"Photographers, even those with mass-market publications, turn to print on demand to try out new ideas, produce a more casual publication, and disseminate work that is too personal, provocative, experimental, or offbeat to be viable in commercial publishing. Some artists produce a print-on-demand book as a quick, inexpensive way to gain distance on a project in progress, or to aid in concept development along the path to commercial publication."
On Thin Ice, In a Blizzard (2011)
The exhibition will include over 150 photobooks by regional, national and international artists; the content of the books themselves is equally varied: self-directed narrative works, experiments, diaristic catalogues, image appropriations, books that confront conceptual issues in photography, and more.
As many of you might already know, over the past 4+ years I've been working on a series of photographs documenting yard sales around the U.S., taking a look at material possessions and consumer culture particularly in the wake of the American economic recession that began in late 2007. And I'm humbled and honored to share that a photobook I've created from the Yard Sales project has been chosen for inclusion in this CMA exhibition. While I've continued to work on this series, the collection I've formed into this book serves so far as a mock-up as the project continues in-progress towards a more refined production and finalized publication. Here's a few images of the publication-in-progress so far:
from Yard Sales
from Yard Sales
from Yard Sales
If you're in/near or passing thru Cleveland between now and the end of the year, be sure to stop in and check out the exhibition. Its a real treat to be showing alongside artists such as Daido Moriyama (TKY), Martin Parr & Joachim Schmid (Joachim Schmid is Martin Parr - Martin Parr is Joachim Schmid), Lisa Kereszi (Joe's Junk Yard, and Fantasies), Laura Ruth Bidwell (Breathless), Judy Natal (Future Perfect 2040 | 2030 | 2020 | 2010) and many others, including the artists seen above.
DIY: Photographers & Books
11 August - 30 December 2012
Cleveland Museum of Art
11150 East Blvd., Cleveland OH