Exhibition ‘The Art of Small Books’ by Aperture Foundation @Soho Photo Gallery

Exhibition: The Art of Small Books organized by Aperture Foundation, hosted in the Soho Photo Gallery was a rare opportunity to look through sixteen books in journal-sized format, mostly published by Aperture over a period of years.

The title of the exhibition brought some confusion – I expected to see artist’s books with unique design in a really small scale.

The only book in the exhibition that fits this description was Christian Marclay’s ‘Shuffle’.

In this book, Christian Marclay has photographed the appearances of musical notation throughout the world. Each of the 75 color images is presented on an individual oversized card, and the entire deck is enclosed in a package that intended to be used as a spontaneous musical score. Have a look at pianist Anthony Coleman’s performance of Christian Marclay’s ‘Shuffle’:

The book that I had heard much about but never got a chance to look at before, was ‘Black Passport’ by Stanley Greene.

Outstanding concept and design of the book are the work of Teun van der Heijden, a designer from Netherlands. The book looks like a travel document with passport-like round edges and cover material. It is a personal memoir of war photographer Stanley Greene compiled out of excerpts from over two years of interviews conducted by Teun van der Heijden together with Stanley Greene’s images from Paris, Moscow, Rwanda, Iraq, Lebanon, San Francisco and many other locations. Watch this book’s trailer:

Another book with a modern magazine-like design was ‘Silent Exodus’ by Kabul-born, Switzerland-based photographer Zalmai. The book chronicles the plight of Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon; over the course of several trips in 2007.  He interviewed them, collected their individual stories and photographed them in their homes.

I am personally  fond of Japanese photography, and Takashi Homma’s book exploring every day life in Tokyo was one of my favorites in the show. The book compiles selections from the artist’s six previously published titles about the city. This is the first of Homma’s monographs published outside Japan.

Among classic photobooks presented in the show, were three books from the Aperture Masters of Photography series. The series was created in the 1970s in collaboration with the French publisher Robert Delpire and intended to make affordable photography books for wider public. The exhibition featured books on Eugène AtgetHenri Cartier-Bresson, and Wynn Bullock.

Another favorite of mine in the show was Robert Adams’ book ‘Summer Nights, Walking’. It is a re-edited edition of ‘Summer Nights’ published by Aperture in 1985. The book has very nice classic design and contains photographs of night landscapes that Robert Adams began making in the mid-1970s near his former home in Longmont, Colorado.

‘Travelers’ by Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz is a book of constructed images of miniatures – toy figures in  snowbound environments.

This exhibition also presented two volumes of MP3: Midwest Photographers Publication Project, a series of books intending to introduce emerging photographers from the Midwest. Each volume contains three books of three photographers:  Kelli Connell, Justin Newhall and Brian Ulrich in Volume I, and Curtis Mann, John Opera, and Stacia Yeapanis in Volume II. These books have a modern, colorful, Blurb-like design.

I went to the exhibition on Friday afternoon when the space wasn’t crowded and got a chance to carefully look through all the books picking up some favorites that hopefully will become a part of my collection. It was a nice opportunity to look through this collection of old and new Aperture books.

The Art of Small Books
February 8 – March 3, 2012
Soho Photo Gallery (15 White Street)

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