Photobook Festivals, Competitions, Fairs

Photobook Festivals/Shows

International Photobook Festival
The Kasseler Fotoforum hosted the first festival dedicated to the photobook in 2008 as part of the Kasseler Fotofrühling. After it had been floating around for some time, as a result of many discussions it became a concrete idea to start a festival that was dedicated to the photobook. Thus the International Photobook Festival was born. The festival has two awards: The International Photobook Award and International Photobook Dummy Award 

Photobook Show is a Brighton-based arts organisation, set up in 2011 by William Sadowski and Kevin Beck to raise the profile of artist-led photobooks, with particular focus on self-published or hand-crafted works. It aims to hold several exhibitions a year, alongside talks and workshops, to promote the visibility of photobooks.

PhotoBook London
PhotoBook London is a regular event all about photo books, hosting a weekend long photo book fair, seminars and book reviewing sessions, all with the intention promoting independently, and self published books.

Photofestivals With Photobook Shows/Awards

C/O Berlin – International Forum For Visual Dialogues: Book Days
Established in 2000 as a cultural institution, C/O Berlin integrates photography with design and architecture. The program of Book Days started in 2011 includes book presentations, screenings, discussions and book signings. Open submissions for Photobook Slam Berlin.

Independent Photography Festival: Photo Book & Zine Fair 
The IPF Photo Book & Zine Fair aims to bring together the enormous and diverse spectrum of photo publications, from high-end, perfect bound coffee table books to $2 B/W, saddle-stitched zines, and everything in between.

PHotoEspaña: The Best Photography Books of the Year Exhibition and Awards
Since 1998, prizes have been awarded in three categories: the best Spanish photography book, the best international photography book, and the outstanding publishing house of the year.  The Best Photography Books of the Year exhibition  features the 100 books short-listed for the awards.

PhotoIreland: Book & Magazine Fair and The Library Project
Book & Magazine Fair includes photobooks and photo magazines from all over the world, as well as a rich example of contemporary publications focused on Art, Design and Illustration. The Library Project is a collection of books, magazines and zines on contemporary Photography.

The Rencontres d’Arles: Book Awards
The Rencontres d’Arles (formerly known as the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie d’Arles) is a summer photography festival founded in 1970. Photobooks for the Book Awards are selected by an open call.

Photobook Competitions:

PBN / Photography Book Now Annual international photobook competition by Blurb

Art Book Fairs

AIPAD Photography Show including photobooks showcase. March, USA

 New York Antiquarian Book Fair April, USA

The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (PPAC) Annual Book Fair May, USA

ABOUT Independent Publishing Fair For small publishing houses and self-publishers that work within the fields of art and design. May, Germany

London Art Book Fair September, England

NY Art Book Fair September-October, USA

Frankfurt Book Fair October, Germany

Small Publishers Fair November, England

Offprint Paris November, France

Paris Photo 2012 November, France

Amsterdam Art/Book Fair The Netherlands


New York Antiquarian Book Fair. Part 3: Artists’ Books and Special Items.

James Lee Byars – J* Read to Peachy Keen Forme …, 1972 . A beautiful example of a James Lee Byars’ unique original letter art object. Byars’ text, written in his usual stream of consciousness, abbreviated style, communicates several ideas in parallel and extends in a single line along the centre of the sheets for nearly 3 metres. Consists of four conjoined sheets of thick gold metallic paper. An important part of Byars’ oeuvre, influenced by his years living in Japan and the resulting interest in Japanese paper, calligraphy and origami, was the letter as art work, the object and idea in harmony, and the example presented here, to Byars’ friend Jim Butler, with calligraphic text on gold paper with characteristic divagations and abbreviations, is delightfully representative. ‘Byars did, however, maintain communication with many important people in the art world, by means of an artistic correspondence that seems to have been his most consistent practise as an artist. Nearly every day, before dawn, he would rise and begin writing his spectacular letters … They were an extension of the Byars persona, even mirroring his costumes in their strict use of a few select colours and shapes. They were simply mystifying, difficult to read, confusing in their syntax even where legible; Byars was unknown because he was unknowable. One might delight in (or be maddened by) the experience of unfolding a fifty foot long piece of pink tissue paper, only to find the gold writing nearly indecipherable, and the message as much a poetic epigram as a personal communication. One is meant to experience the letters as an aesthetic occasion … ‘. (Frieze magazine, review of the exhibition ‘James Lee Byars: Letters from the World’s Most Famous Unknown Artist’). @Sims Reed Rare Book Shop


New York Antiquarian Book Fair. Part 2: Photobooks.

Artists & Photographs – New York. Multiples, Inc. 1970. A combination of both exhibition and catalogue. Consists of a box containing various ephemera, texts, images and multiples by nineteen leading artists of the 1960s: Mel Bochner, Christo, Jan Dibbets, Dan Graham, Douglas Huebler, Allan Kaprow, Michael Kirby, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Dennis Oppenheim, Ed Ruscha, Robert Smithson, Bernar Venet, Andy Warhol. With text booklet by Lawrence Alloway. @Sims Reed Rare Book Shop


New York Antiquarian Book Fair. Part 1: Photo Albums.

This year marks the 52nd anniversary of the New York Antiquarian Book FairThe first American antiquarian book fair, that would evolve into the New York Antiquarian Book Fair, was held in New York in 1960. This year’s fair was sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) and took place at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City on April 12-15, 2012. The     show featured a record number of exhibitors – 212 dealers from 15 countries. (more…)

AIPAD Panel Discussions

On Saturday, March 31, 2012 The AIPAD Photography Show featured a series of special panel discussions sponsored by Ryerson Image Centre, a research center and an exhibition space incorporated into Ryerson University, Canada. I attended two of them.

The first panel: Curator’s Choice: Emerging Artists in Photography was moderated by Lindsay Pollock, editor in chief of Art in America and featured Sarah Meister, curator of Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, Christopher Phillips, curator of the International Center for Photography, and Joshua Chuang, assistant curator of photography at the Yale University Art Gallery. The discussion began with a question: Which artists or work can be considered ‘new/emerging’? Sarah Meister pointed that the age of an artist doesn’t matter; it is not an artist who is new, but his/her work has to be new. Christopher Phillips said he wouldn’t differentiate artists in this way. The curators showed work of the artists they exhibited that they considered ‘new’:
Joshua Chuang – Anthony Hernandez;
Sarah Meister – Michele Abeles, Shanghai duo Birdhead (Song Tao and Ji Weiyu), Moyra DaveyElad LassryHank Willis Thomas;
Some of Christopher Phillips – Anna ShteynshleygerMichelle Charles, Series of books My Private Broadway published by Beijing-based photographer Lin Zhipeng.

Another question was: How does contemporary photography get into collections? Sarah Meister spoke about the Fund for the Twenty-First Century at MoMA, that was created to purchase work produced during last five years by artists who were not presented in the MoMA collection. In this case, curators often look for newer practices and try to present the work the museum audience is not familiar with. Christopher Phillips looks at an artist’s career to find a perspective artist who consistently produces bodies of work. Joshua Chuang considers work that fits artwork from the gallery collection and that is not limited to the photographic medium.

The participants also discussed the problem of digital photography. Everybody has a camera now and can produce images, there is an overwhelming amount of images on the internet. The curators talked about a trend of incorporating internet images into artists’ work (ex. Doug Rickard) and how a museum can deal with such kind of practices. With the digitalizing of old photographs, photography past is growing as well. We are overwhelmed with pictures in this image saturated culture.

Speaking about new work, many of curators pointed that new artists come from all over the world – China, South Korea, Brazil. In order to understand their work, we have to learn a background of the artists and a context that the work was made in.

The second panel: A Celebration of Francesca Woodman commemorated the traveling retrospective of Francesca Woodman (organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum through June 13, 2012 ). The panel was moderated by Robert Klein of the Robert Klein Gallery in Boston and included Julia Bryan-Wilson, associate professor of art history at the University of California, Berkeley, Sloan Keck, a designer and friend of Francesca Woodman, and Elisabeth Subrin, a video artist. Julia Bryan-Wilson is an author of the essay featured in the catalog of Francesca Woodman’s show in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The essay surveys the critical and art historical literature that has proliferated around Woodman’s art. Elisabeth Subrin presented (or at least tried) a 36-minute video The Fancy (2000), an ‘experimental biography’ of Francesca Woodman exploring the interpretation of Woodman’s work and life based on published records only (ReadWatch the trailer). The discussion bounced from one subject to another, including questions: How interpretation of curators differ from the artist intent? What artists did influence Francesca? Sloan Keck, who was a close friend of Francesca since freshman year at RISD contributed some stories behind the photographs, talked on Francesca’s personality and read some experts from Woodman’s diaries.

On the break between panels, I went to The AIPAD Photography Show quite spontaneously. (I intended to attend the two panel discussions only but thanks to a photography collector who gave me a spare pass I got to see the show itself.) At AIPAD for the first time, I could hardly believe that I was seeing this enormous amount of photography history mixed with contemporary work in one location. The show was extremely overwhelming and I won’t even try to write about it at this time. Just some remarks about photobooks. There were two photobook dealer booths at the show:

Harper’s Books, founded in 1997, is a bookshop and gallery located in East Hampton, New York. It specializes in rare photography, art, and literary books. Among one-of-a-kind items Harper’s Books had on display Alec Soth’s notebook for his project The Most Beautiful Woman in Georgia and the mock-up of Ken Schles’ Invisible City. Check out the incredible list of items Harper’s Books presented at the AIPAD show. Thanks to Helka Aleksdóttir for sharing the opportunity to see those books. Look for the reviews at her wonderful blog.

Another photobook dealer was Jeff Hirsch Books from Evanston, IL., specializing in used and rare photography monographs and modern first editions.

One of the wonderful items I saw at the show is a book of famous George Tice’s photographs titled American Beauty presented by Nailya Alexander Gallery. It is a book of 24 Platinum/Palladium 8″x10″ prints on Japanese gambi paper. The book is slipcased and measures 16 x 14 inches. The preorder price is $18.000, the starting market price will be $20.000.

The AIPAD Photography Show creates a wonderful environment to look at photography treasures, to learn about the history of the medium and to experience museum-quality prints.

Symposium: Police Work @Museum of the City of New York

On March 13, 2012 the Museum of the City of New York hosted a symposium on Police Work – a conversation about crime photography. Currently,two exhibitions exploring the subject of crime photography are on view in New York City: ‘Weegee: Murder Is My Business’ through September 2, 2012 at ICP and ‘Police Work: Photographs by Leonard Freed, 1972-1979’ until May 6, 2012 at the Museum of the City of New York. The ICP Chief Curator, Brian Wallis called this fact ‘fantastic coincidence’.

The discussion was moderated by Sean Corcoran, Curator of Prints and Photographs for the Museum of the City of New York. He is the curator of the exhibition Police Work: Photographs by Leonard Freed, 1972-1979 that features photographs of the New York City police, including a recent gift to the Museum of the City of New York by the photographer’s widow, Bridgette Freed. On April 21, 2012, Sean Corcoran will give a tour of the exhibition.

Curator and author, Gail Buckland presented a collection of crime photographs from her book Shots in the Dark: True Crime Pictures (Bulfinch, 2001). She spoke about history of the crime photography and how it influenced the public perception of crimes and criminals. Crime photography made public to know the people behind the stories, sometimes even making a criminal into a superstar. The author emphasized that the book features photographs from police archives including shocking photographs of victims which are a bit hard to take. Gail Buckland mentioned photography as a part of the crime when a murderer would photograph a victim. She also spoke about the growing amount of images of violence that could be found on internet today.

Brian Wallis, International Center of Photography Chief Curator and curator of Weegee: Murder is My Business, spoke on the crime photography of Weegee (born Arthur Fellig, 1899-1968). Working as a freelancer, Weegee documented about five thousands murders. He focused on showing human interest in crime scenes and police work more than on documenting crimes themselves and victims’ bodies (in contrast with police photographers). The first show of Weegee’s photographs called Murder is My Business was opened in 1941 in Photo League. The work was not presented on the walls, Weegee created magazine-like spreads with his b&w photographs and added some colored blood to them. The first book of Weegee’s photographs called Naked City was published in 1945 and became a cult item for collectors. See Jörg Colberg’s presentation of Weegee’s Naked City. Brian Wallis mentioned that Weegee’s photographs can be found at the exhibition The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936-1951 on view at the Jewish Museum through March 25, 2012. Leonard Freed’s contact sheet is featured at the exhibition Magnum Contact Sheets on view at ICP through May 6, 2012.

Paul M. Farber, visual/popular culture critic and Leonard Freed scholar from University of Michigan, gave an overview of Leonard Freed’s photographic career. See books featuring Leonard Freed’s photography here. Leonard Freed viewed the police officers as members of the city’s working class and co-citizens. His intent was bit to judge the police activities but rather to show how the officers do their job. The photographer approached his subjects with humanity and at the same time with a critical distance. The work produced by Freed changed the negative public opinion of police of the 1970th. His book, Police Work published in 1980 provided a great insight to the life and work of the police officers seeing them as collaborators for building community and safeguarding democracy. See some spreads of the book Police Work here.

The discussion revealed some important questions about modern society: How police are represented in numbers of popular TV series and what their role is in forming public opinion? How does the police use photography and surveillance cameras and how does that effect our life?  What role does the beautification of crime and violence play in modern society?

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)