A Short History of the African Photobook

Joana Choumali, Spread from Hââbré, The Last Generation (Johannesburg: Fourthwall Books, 2016)  Courtesy the artist and Fourthwall Books
Joana Choumali, Spread from Hââbré, The Last Generation (Johannesburg: Fourthwall Books, 2016)  Courtesy the artist and Fourthwall Books

For Bronwyn Law-Viljoen, publisher of Fourthwall Books, the photobook is a space for political and social history.

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Editor’s Note

by Daria Tuminas   A book with “cinematic flair”; “a quasicinematic, nonlinear narrative”; “raw, cinematic, stream-of-consciousness”—you hear these things about photobooks all the time. But what exactly is this cinematic aspect of these publications? And what is the relationship between cinema and the photobook at large? The historical interconnection goes back to the very beginning of both mediums. As Olivier Lugon points out in Between Still and Moving Images (2012), “already, before the advent of the Lumière cinematograph, paper had been the privileged medium for cinematic movement, from the plates of the phenakistoscope and the zoetrope, to cards for Mutoscope…

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Robert Adams on Gregory Halpern, ZZYZX

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D. H. Lawrence admired the American Southwest but found Southern California troubling: “In a way, it has turned its back on the world, and looks into the void Pacific. It is absolutely selfish, very empty, but not false.” Gregory Halpern records an aspect of what still seems to be its emptiness—a careless isolation from one another. The idea of community appears to be almost beyond our imagination. Halpern’s Southern California is, however, in another sense, far from empty. Despite our neglect of what we might improve—others’ lives, and the places we share—there is frequently evident an unorthodox beauty. No matter…

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Guilty Pleasures/Hidden Treasures: Darius Himes and Frish Brandt

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              Darius Himes on Robert Spector The Pizza Hut Story Melcher Media and IPHFHA New York and Wichita, KS, 2008 The official geographic center of the continental United States of America is in Lebanon, Kansas, a mere 199 miles from Wichita, the birthplace of Pizza Hut. It somehow seems fitting that a chain restaurant with such national (and global) reach emanated from smack-dab in the center of the country. In 1958, the Carney brothers borrowed $600 from their mother to open a restaurant after seeing an article in the Saturday Evening Post about a…

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Frédérique Destribats on Children’s PhotoBooks

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  As photography developed in the wake of its invention in 1839, constant improvement in processing and printing techniques, quality and production, accelerated the distribution of the photobook and contributed to its success. Naturally feeding on this history, photographically illustrated books for children were introduced by the end of the nineteenth century. Their expansion was encouraged by such events as the gradual introduction of laws implementing compulsory schooling, which led to a rising demand for illustrated books from the growing numbers of young readers and educational institutions. The first photographically illustrated books for children came in the form of photo…

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Video Response: Amos Mulder on Inka and Niclas Lindergård, The Belt of Venus and the Shadow of the Earth

Amos Mulder is a video artist whose works include visual responses to found footage, texts, and photographic images; he describes his series as “video haikus,” adding that “I love to explore these parallel universes and catch their atmospheres and governing principles in short films. While rooted in the history of cinema, these films are also inspired by (and combined with) other nice things such as music, photography, and philosophy.” For this issue, he accepted guest editor Daria Tuminas’s assignment to create a video response to Inka and Niclas Lindergård’s The Belt of Venus and the Shadow of the Earth. The…

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Publisher Profile

Subscription Series No. 4  Includes Christian Patterson, Bottom of the Lake; Alessandra Sanguinetti, Sorry, Welcome; Raymond Meeks, Erasure; and Wolfgang Tillmans, Utoquai • TBW Books • Oakland, CA, 2013

TBW Books Matthew Leifheit in conversation with Paul Schiek So often in art—as in life—the decision to prioritize someone else’s dreams, even temporarily, is looked at as if it means one’s own artistic vision and conviction may be wavering. Paul Schiek, a photographer and independent publisher based in Oakland, California, has been curating, writing, and publishing under his imprint TBW Books, in addition to making his own photographs, for the past ten years. He seems to see this varied outpouring as a medium in its own right. His generous vision is perhaps most evident in TBW’s Subscription Series, an annual…

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Editor’s Note

Ideal Bookshelf #968: Denise Wolff

Denise Wolff The essential goal of publishing is to make public. But when publishing photobooks, who do we consider our public to be? This is a question I ask myself a lot in my work as an editor: who is this project for and how do we reach them? What many would consider a photobook, those who read this publication might not recognize as such. As I write this, the top “Photography & Video” book on Amazon is Pumpkin: The Raccoon Who Thought She Was a Dog (2016). The title says it all. A wall calendar is also available! Also…

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Peter Kayafas on Terry Tempest Williams, The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks

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  America is defined as much by its open spaces—where the hand of man is invisible or only circumstantially present—as it is by convenient mythologies, historical triumphs, or architectural marvels or atrocities. This year, the hundredth anniversary of America’s National Park Service is marked by numerous publications and a variety of celebrations of the public places under its stewardship. For those of us lucky enough to have had the time and facility to explore the parks, we can acknowledge that such adventures have caused unexpected changes in how we see, and in how we see ourselves. The Hour of Land…

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