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Monday, 9 July 2018

My Best Photo-Text Award: On Abortion

I have been enjoying writing, reviewing and interviewing so much this summer. It is wonderful when the pleasure of writing comes from the ideas and energies of what you are writing about. Part of that pleasure has come from Laia Abril's On Abortion, which I reviewed here. It'sa chapter in a five chapter series on misogyny and it's my book of the year by a distance.

It's a timely book (books on misogyny have been timely for ooh, the last how many thousand years. But they're especially timely now) where text and image are fused, where the text is designed to be communicative, accessible, and (in a surprisingly low-key way) persuasive. It's backed up by in-depth research which is selectively presented - so it's interesting, informative and ties in to emotional narratives. It's of  quite a different level and the accessibility is a key element of that. We talk a lot about communicating effectively, of extending audiences, of making things accessible, but very often what we say goes hand in hand with doing quite the opposite. We obfuscate, we make things inaccessible, we limite the audience - but can't see it because all our immediate peers are working in the same realm of self-indulgent obfuscation.

On Abortion is absolutely not an example of that. It didn't win the Arles Photo-text book award last week, but then it didn't need to (even though lots of people are unhappy with the awarding of the book to Broomberg and Chanarin's War Primer, for a multitude of reasons - click on the link below).

The thing is that awards get awarded to surprising books sometimes. Or films, or books, or people.. So it goes. And so it goes.

And so it goes with On Abortion (published in an edition of 4,000 incidentally).  On Abortion gets my imaginary Photo-Text Book Award for 2018. And that aside, time will be the reward as I think it's one of the most vital books for a long, long time, an example of a new kind of independent, self-commissioning slow photojournalism that is emerging out of the ashes of the old.

And as for Akina books. I'll award them my imaginary prize for just taking chances, making quality books, not compromising and going their own way. There is a barrier there in other words.

Read the review here.

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