Paris Photo 2013

After my training in Vienna, I spent a couple of days to check out photobooks at the Paris Photo exhibition at the Grand Palais. It was definitely a good idea to buy the ticket ahead of time as the line to get in was much shorter.

I had a limited budget and baggage space for acquiring photobooks. “The PIGS” was an easy choice as it was 10 Euros and the size of a magazine. Shiga’s “Rasen Kaigan” almost broke the bank and the luggage but was well worth it as the photographs inside the book are stunning.

From the shortlisted titles I also got the last copy of “Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives”. I just love Hatje Cantz’s books for there no nonsense design and hard hitting subject matter. Finally, I pre-ordered “The Photobook: A History – Volume III” by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger which is coming out in March 2014. Phaidon was offering free shipping of autographed copies so how could I resist?

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Holy Bible
Photographers: Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin
Publisher: MACK, London / Archive of Modern Conflict, London20131218-054106.jpg

The PIGS
Photographer: Carlos Spottorno
Publisher: Phree and Editorial RM, Madrid20131218-054114.jpg

A01 [COD.19.1.1.43] — A27 [S | COD.23]
Photographer: Rosângela Rennó
Publisher: RR Edições, Rio de Janeiro20131218-054121.jpg

Rasen Kaigan
Photographer: Lieko Shiga
Publisher: AKAAKA, Tokyo20131218-054129.jpg

Silvermine
Photographer: Thomas Sauvin
Publisher: Archive of Modern Conflict, London20131218-054135.jpg

KARMA
Photographer: Óscar Monzón
Publisher: Dalpine, Madrid / RVB Books, Paris20131218-054145.jpg

Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives
Photographer: Simon Menner
Publisher: Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern, Germany20131218-054151.jpg

Nine Nameless Mountains
Photographer: Maanantai Collective
Publisher: Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany20131218-054159.jpg

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“Eigenzeit” by Elger Esser

Having recently learned about Elger Esser through reading “Dusseldorf School of Photography” I decided to buy the photo book of Esser’s exhibition “Eigenzeit” which means “proper time” in German.  The term refers to the physical phenomenon of time dilation which is put forward in Einstein’s theory of general relativity.  The most famous example of time dilation is the hypothetical one of the twins, where one stays on earth and the other one rockets into space at the speed of light.  When the space travelling twin returns to earth he finds his brother aged considerably while he himself has aged very little.  Each experiences time differently and lives according to their own clocks.

The forward written by Groos and Schimpf effectively describes Esser’s photography in relation to the time dilation principle as does the various essays in the book.  In summary, the authors’ views is that Esser’s photos of historical landmarks and scenes evoke a sense of timelessness so that the viewer is unsure whether the photos are taken yesterday or hundreds of years ago.  According to the text this feeling is enhanced by the special processing technique that Esser employs.  This is made all the more interesting and subtle when you look very closely at the “Combray” and “Vedutas” photos to find clues of modernity.  A power line over an old bridge or the a very distant sky scrapper along an otherwise historic view of the Seine River in Paris.

The book is divided into six sections with each part being comprised of an essay followed by one fold out double spread photo which starts the series of photos under the same theme.  This format is very well thought out since Esser’s photos really benefit from the larger printing.  Too bad there are only six of these spreads in the book.  The photos in the “Wrecks” section portrays hand colored black and white photos of ships run aground.  Personally, I find the “Wrecks” photos a little too contrived.  In contrast the “Views” photos are also hand colored but feel less contrived and more authentic.  The photos are blown up to such a large size that the grain in the film become like pointillist dots.  It would be amazing to see these photos as larger prints.