One of the most enjoyable things about Gazebook were the portfolio reviews. They take place outside, on the promenade in the sun, with drinks, and they are pretty relaxed, but with projects that are of a really high quality.
Every project I saw was really interesting in one way or another, from a project featuring the sexist comments made to Brazilian women (message me your name) in Paris (which potentially has a future that reaches way beyond photography), to Kelly Costigliolo with the father who, during the Second World War, walked back to Italy from his Russian Gulag (memories of Michal Iwanowski and Andrea Botto - but especially Primo Levi and The Truce), and Elton Gllava's very impressive black and white pictures of Albanian miners and the environments they inhabited.
So interesting that I always wanted to hear more about them. That is actually quite unusual. Normally projects are a little bit dull and people rely on basic photographic formula to visualise the story - and along the way that somehow becomes the story. So people will do a typology of suburban garages, but actually won't really be that interested in garages or anything about them. But somehow because they've made a typology of them, they expect me to be. They're not interested and I'm supposed to be. Sorry, but ten pictures that are the same doesn't make something interesting. Multiplying boring by 10 doesn't make interesting. It makes 10 x Boring.
At Gazebook however, people were going for things that had real content. Perhaps the pictures didn't quite match at times, but the potential was there for making something really, really strong, with a really great emotional or political impact.
Interestingly, not everything really had a book in mind as an end product. It doesn't have to be a book in other words. Some of it shouldn't be a book. One project by (message me your name) centred around really beautiful, Edenic visions of alternative communities. Lots of people work around this subject, but these prints were really lovely and printed big, in an installation, they would look amazing.
Another project (by Mark Power's new assistant Dimity D'Ippolito)looked at the machinations of the City of London. Again, there are lots of book precedents but you get the feeling that installation is the way to go here. The work is so good, but so ongoing, you don't really know what to say except for carry on.
And pictures of Dimitry's graduate installation made me think of this video. Which I'm delighted to say struck a chord. So if in the future you see a square filled with giant photographic sculptures of men in suits with eyes that follow you around the streets and then disappear, Oz-like, behind the sculptural curtain, you'll know where it comes from. I'll just put that marker down.
Olivier from Flaminia Celata on Vimeo.
And then there were the books. I saw three books at the reviews and they all beautifully thought out and finished with passion. The first was Flamina Celata's Olivier, a book that looks at the devastation of Rome's trees by the Red Palm Weevil. Flamina loves palm trees and her passion comes through in a book that also captures some of the symbolic effect these dying trees have on the city and people of Rome. It also comes with one of the very best cards I have ever seen. It's a book mark and it's beautiful!
Read about Olivier on the Collector Daily here.
Buy the book here.
Daniel Donnelly's Conveyor to the Ceiling is a wonderfully designed object. You can see me holding it here. It's made out of one piece of paper, cut and folded. On one side is the story of the book - the pictures replicate the journey you have to go on to get to the Sistine Chapel (there are 20 rooms you have to go through) and the rituals the tourist goes through on this journey. The folds then take you on this journey in a most ingenious way. It comes in a gift shop bag with a gift shop Vatican ruler. And it's very affordable.
Read about Conveyor to the Ceiling here.
Buy the book here.
La plume plongea la tête by Sara Palmieri from sara palmieri on Vimeo.
The final book I saw in the reviews was Sara Palmieri's La Plume Plongea La Tête. This is a very delicate book object with a construction that mirrors the depths of Sara's soul. The first edition was sold out so I only saw the special edition. It's beautifully made, with tracing paper interleaved with fold-outs that mirror the darkness that we all experience. The structure of the book mirrors a poem by Mallarme, so you can read the images vertically or horizontally. It's subjective, poetic and feels great to handle.
Buy the book here. or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.