David Solo on The Grand Tour: A Photobook Travelogue
Illustration by Simone Rein.
As a collector, enthusiast, and supporter of photo- and artist books, I want to see and learn as much as I can about what’s being created now, as well as about books from the past. It seems like there are two or three photobook fairs, festivals, or other events nearly every weekend—especially in Europe—so there are lots of opportunities. While it’s certainly possible to find photobooks online these days (and I do), it still doesn’t compare with the fun of handling them; talking to the folks who make, study, sell, and collect them; and adding a few to the collection. Apart from when it’s time to pack the new acquisitions (and when my luggage hits the scales at check-in), it’s a pleasure. Here are a few of my highlights from the past six months:
Stray Books Festival, London, June 2014:
A mini festival held outdoors at Red Gallery and organized by Valentina Abenavoli and Alex Bocchetto of Akina Books. With a focus on self-publishing, the majority of tables were run by artists—a welcome change from larger publisher/seller-driven fairs. There was a very strong selection of material here I hadn’t seen before. straybooks.wordpress.com
Bushwick Art Book and Zine Fair, Brooklyn, June 2014:
The most recent incarnation of Sonel Breslav’s (of Blonde Art Books) event of mostly local artist- and writer-produced books and zines was held this year at SIGNAL, and included a number of interesting photobooks from the folks at Miniature Garden and NoWork. blondeartbooks.com
Kaleid 2014, London, July 2014:
The third installment of this curated event, organized by Victoria Browne, brought together artist-made books from Europe and included the launch of Liane Lang’s photobook object/project. The presence of photobooks at Kaleid has expanded and it’s a great forum to meet with most of the artists involved. kaleideditions.com
Not technically a book “event,” Megutama is remarkable nonetheless. This new cafe in Tokyo has a library of several thousand photobooks, available for browsing while you’re dining. megutama.com
Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive at RayKo Photo Center, San Francisco, August 2014:
A tweet one morning announced that the start of the Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive’s U.S. tour would take place in San Francisco that afternoon. I happened to be there, and it was a delight to see a number of books I didn’t know and meet both the folks from RayKo and from APPA, an Indie Photobook Library-inspired project based in Melbourne, Australia. photobookarchive.com
David Solo is a Brooklyn-based collector of contemporary Asian art, photography, and especially photo- and artists’ books. He is also actively involved with a number of institutions and projects around these topics in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
Simone Rein is a Los Angeles-based illustrator and has a BFA in illustration from the School of Visual Arts. simonerein.com
The PhotoBook Review is a publication dedicated to the consideration of the photobook—focusing on the best photography books being published, from the coffee-table book to the handmade artist’s edition, and on creating a better understanding of the ecosystem of the photobook as a whole.