The Photobook Review

Publisher’s Note: Lesley A. Martin

Dear PhotoBook Review Reader,

You’ll find many of the following pages are guided by one particular idea as a loose organizational frame: the photobook and desire. For those of you who know guest editor Bruno Ceschel as the founder of Self Publish, Be Happy, a curatorial project committed to the celebration and study of the self-published photobook, you may also be aware of SPBH’s id-driven alter ego, Self Publish, Be Naughty, a series of monographs about love, lust, sex, and taboos. It is eclectically promiscuous in its approach to desire and, as is pointed out in The Photobook: A History, Vol. III (Phaidon, 2014), to photography itself. A giddy, mischievous ethos infuses most of Bruno’s projects, and this one is no different. His vision is ultimately utopian at its core, in which confession of our desires sets us free and connects us to communities of shared and overlapping interests.

This utopian bent is particularly appropriate as this is also the second time we will be launching the spring issue on the dreamy West Coast, during Paris Photo Los Angeles. Last spring, in issue 004, guest editor Charlotte Cotton gave us a blueprint for intertwining personal experience with intellectual analysis, a challenge which has been consciously picked up by Bruno and many of the contributors selected by him and his team. In “PhotoBook Lust” and other writings in these pages, you will find an unruly garden of thrills and delights, filled with books that can seduce us into taking them home for private enjoyment.

I was especially gratified to have the opportunity to engage Miyako Ishiuchi and Yurie Nagashima in a conversation about the ways the female body has been depicted in Japanese photography—both in their own work and in that of other photographers, some of whom have gained international recognition for their frank, possibly exploitative depictions of the eroticized nude. Also in this issue, instead of a standard Publisher’s Profile, Bruno has interviewed David Senior, bibliographer of the MoMA Library, about the increasingly blurred lines between publisher, designer, artist, and other once-discrete roles. In this interview, Senior proposes that one new application of the book form itself is as a self-run artist’s space, particularly as it applies to self-published works.

Finally, I’d like to bring attention to the launch of a new category of the Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards. While it has become a bit of a truism that a “true photobook” is almost exclusively the authorship of an individual artist or editor, it became evident during last year’s jurying process that many excellent contributions to the field decidedly do not fall into the aforementioned framework, as they are focused more on the presentation of scholarship and curatorial thinking. We realized we ought to find a way to recognize these efforts to bring innovation and new knowledge to the world of photobooks. With this in mind, this spring we launch a new, third category of prize: Photography Catalogue of the Year. More details on this can be found here.

As always, we thank our guest editor and contributors (of whom there are so many in this issue!), whose ideas and words are the backbone of The PhotoBook Review. The collected wisdom and opinions of so many participants reshaping the landscape of the photobook today are continually inspiring to me, as they hopefully are to you, the PhotoBook Reader, as well.

—Lesley A. Martin
Publisher, The PhotoBook Review and Aperture Foundation book program

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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.

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