Guido Guidi on Paul Strand, Un Paese
This is a web exclusive from the feature “PhotoBook Lust,” a collection of writing on photobooks and desire by artists, curators, and writers, first published in The PhotoBook Review 006. Read the Lust introduction by guest editor Bruno Ceschel.
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Text by Cesare Zavattini
Un Paese by Paul Strand was one of the first photobooks I ever looked at persistently. I remember that at school Italo Zannier had long spoken about it. It was published by Einaudi in 1955, and I was lucky enough to find a copy on sale for not that much at the end of the ’60s. What a pleasure to finally have a copy in my hands! The jacket has a photograph glued on a gray-green background, as was the fashion at the time. Underneath, there was the spartan cloth binding; inside, the coated paper was not too white, and the ink was greenish brown.
Strand looked after every single phase of the making of this book, from the creation of the dummy to the rotogravure printing. For him the book had to be a sort of “movie on paper,” and so the photographs follow one another as in a film, supported at times by short interviews by Cesare Zavattini that give voice to the people in the photographs.
I mostly didn’t read the text. I was all too interested in the “silence” of the photographs, in which the people were emanations of the places, and the face of things offered to me, as a gift of the page.
Guido Guidi (born in Cesena, Italy) is a photographer who has shown his work internationally, included at Centre Georges Pompidou and the Venice Biennale.
*Book pictured above is the English-language edition of Un Paese (Aperture, 1997).
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.