Highlights from Arles Books 2022

Every summer, the festival Rencontres d’Arles dedicates a space to photography books, through a selection nominated for the book award for best photography publications, and for the Luma Dummy book awards, supporting the publication of photography books among dummies exposed during the festival. 

You’ll find below a selection of books that caught our attention within the frame of our research. Death, disease or fragmented identity are treated by the artists, using the format of the book as interface for reconstruction, transformation or erasure.

︎  Casa prestada para un duelo (Maison prêtée pour un deuil), Olenka Carrasco

"House on Loan for a Mourning is a transdisciplinary project made in the days following the death of my father in Venezuela, my country of origin, in 2020. I collect hundreds of images and testimonies sent by my brother via whatsapp and try to construct a mourning from another’s childhood home, I photograph objects that do not belong to me looking for a link. I make these images disappear through a corrosive process, or compulsive writing with my typewriter, to reflect the fragility of memory and the volatility of the link with my country."

︎ Check the full book on issuu

︎  El retrato de tu ausencia, Alejandro Luperca Morales 

“During a period of six years Alejandro Morales collected more than 500 photographs depicting bodies published his local newspaper P.M. in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. The time of extreme violence made Ciudad Juárez among the most violent cities in the world, marked by the large number of intentional homicides committed in its streets. The limits of what the press could publish were blurred as it was so common to find oneself in the middle of a shootout or come across an abandoned corpse. Morales removed all the corpses that he found in the photographs in the P.M. Newspaper by manually erasing them with a gum eraser.

Morales approached the newspaper from its name, understanding it as a "Post Mortem" space. When what was supposed to be in the image no longer appeared, the void that was left opened up a chance to think about what was actually happening. The softness of the eraser, the duration of the erasing process and its ritual connotations confront the immediacy and brutality of these cases. These new images intend to grant an opportunity for mourning, a more dignified form of death.

︎ Check the full book on issuu

︎ Bristningar, Katinka Goldberg  

“In Bristningar (Rupture), Katinka Goldberg' is making collages, which, like Hans Bellmer's, deconstruct and reassemble the body, but do so with a very different aim, a healing rather than a destructive or pathological purpose. And also a process of adding and subtracting, or rather, of adding in order to subtract.

‘I am trying to answer the question; how much can you take away of yourself without disappearing? How close can you get before the closeness becomes a distance?’

In these fragmented and highly abstract collages, Goldberg is utilizing ‘the amputated and then reconstructed body as a way to visualize a fragmented identity that has been mended. Forming a reconstruction of oneself to be seen. Seeing as a way of belonging’.”

︎ Read an analysis of the book here

︎ Sokohi, Moe Suzuki

As her father gradually loses his sight due to glaucoma, artist Moe Suzuki begins to document the daily life they share together. The resulting images are mixed with photographs from the family archive, as well as those taken by her father. Through these images, Moe Suzuki attempts to show what sighted people can see but her father cannot, and to imagine what her father sees but others cannot.

“A visual metaphor for his diminishing eyesight, the imagery alludes to the struggle both father and daughter endure as they adjust to his darkening world.”

︎ Samizdat, Roberto Aguirrezabala

Samizdat is a work that reflects on the intellectual dissident movements that emerged in Eastern Europe. It delves into the underground resistance that tried to circumvent censorship by publishing books, magazines and newspapers banned during Soviet hegemony. These were known as samizdat, a word of Russian origin that means self-published. They had a strong impact in all communist countries, particularly in Czechoslovakia, following the signing of the manifesto known as Charter 77. Most of its signatories were arrested, banned from writing and publishing, and relegated to jobs far removed from their intellectual activities. Due to severe reprisals by the secret police service, it became necessary to take the movement underground once again.

It was more important than ever to keep intact the channels used to distribute free and independent information. It was in this context that emerged a hidden organisational structure for the printing of banned books, free speech manuscripts and unofficial gazettes. Rudimentary techniques such as the use of multiple carbon paper copies when typing documents on a typewriter, were used. These techniques produced very few copies, which were passed person-to-person via an underground distribution network.

The Samizdat photobook comprises three sequentially linked books or chapters. Each with its own individual design, paper type and narration, and each containing different types of photographs. As the story progresses the narrative changes. The book sets out as an ironic souvenir, a memory in the form of a photo album with postcards on glossy gold-coloured pages, wrapped in delicate Japanese screen-printed paper. The mocking tone culminates in the decoration of a Russian soldier for the liberation of Prague. The section closes with the dreamlike image of the medal, also gilded. Such reverie interrupted without respite, moving on steadily through the documentary. Russian tanks are shown invading Prague in 1968, the revolution is violently repressed. At this point, the book becomes hard, metallic, and silver in colour. The pages extend sideways, some up to a metre wide, with fold-outs stacking up with impossible die-cuts. The photos of the occupation literally invade the table where the book is displayed, transferring the invasion to the physical format of the book. It is then that the book gradually delves into the underground life of the resistance. And like a cinematic sequence, the plot progresses through a clandestine scenario, starring the opposition insurgents. The story speeds up. Frequent references to intellectuals and activists emerge, drawing attention to important acts of resistance. Here the narrative becomes a continuous, relentless, flow of linked images, unbounded by the limits of the page.

︎ Check a video of the book