Paris Photobooks

Integral to the experience of Paris Photo is a celebration of the photobook with Paris Photo hosting over 30 booksellers from multiple countries. Plus two concurrent international book fairs, Polycopies and OffPrint are within walking distance

Polycopies , occupies 3 floors of a barge parked just down the Seine from Paris Photo. Every nook and cranny is filled with international small print presses, a topography and photography wonderland. Always evolving and up for fun this fair boasts a rooftop cafe/bar and makes room for a dance party. This year we were treated to the Swiss treat, Raclette, served up in celebration of the book launch by the folks at Image Vevey Festival .

Offprint Paris, a quick walk from Polycopies, is held in a stunning Beaux Art building. Supporting experimental and independent publishers working in all all areas of contemporary visual culture it hosts over 200 international booksellers. Produced by Luma, Offprint is held in London, Milan and Arles.

Offprint Paris

The Paris Photo Aperture Book Awards are a highlight within the fair. A hands-on display exhibits each of the short-listed contenders within three major categories: First PhotoBook, Photography Catalogue of the Year, and PhotoBook of the Year.

The Aperture Foundation publishes The PhotoBook Review. Issue 017 was released for Paris Photo and includes descriptions of the shortlisted books alongside juror comments and essays. Friday afternoon the award winners are announced and celebrated with a champagne toast.

This year I was pleased and excited to see Ben Brody’s first book shortlisted. Published by Red Hook Editions, Attention Servicemember, chronicles an intimate view of the human toll of military service. Brody was able to take photographs from a unique vantage point– having spent 15 years documenting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, first as an Army photographer in Iraq and later as an independent photojournalist. Ben Brody did a wonderful interview about the book with Jim Braude, WBGH Greater Boston TV host co-host of Boston Public Radio.

The Book of Images is an Illustrated Dictionary of Visual Experiences from A to Z which compiles (and indexes with Swiss precision) 1215 ideas and concepts featuring 299 photographers. I carried the tome home and can vouch it is worth every pound! Now part of my Photobook Art Library – it is available to browse during my Wednesday afternoon Library Hours in my Union Square , Somerville studio at 17 Hawkins Street.

This year there were so many books to choose from for the Photobook of the Year award that the jurors compiled a special list for Books about Books. “The jury remarked on the extremely strong showing of books about photobooks and magazines—a now established genre in itself. Instead of selecting a single “book about books,” they chose to highlight eight books as excellent examples of this type of publishing.”

One of the special mentions was How We See: Photobooks by Women published by 10×10 Photobooks, a book on books anthology that documents a curated selection of photobooks by women. “How We See, is a traveling public and hands-on reading room of a global range of 100 photography books by female photographers.” I was able to view all the books in this compilation for a second time, and meet a few authors, during a reading room hosted by MEP during the fair. I attended the MEP panel; Past,Present and Future of Women in Photo Publishing, moderated by Anne Havinga and including; Florence Moll, Delphine Bedel, Elsa Meddle, and Anne-Sylvie Bameule.

Another book I’d like to highlight is Jamais je ne t’oublierai a book by Carolle Bénitah, a photographer whose work I have been watching and enjoying for quite some time. I was not able to meet at the times when she was signing, but I did purchase the book, which is a treasure. She describes the work this way: “I collect anonymous photographs that I buy in flea markets. I am magnetized by the happiness displayed at attention in these photos, by these people I don’t know but who existed, loved, and disappeared. I choose photographs that evoke something déjà-vu, a familiar pose, happy moments that illustrate all those fables told about ancestors.”

I was graciously gifted a monograph by Hungarian multi-media artist Marianne Csaky. I was so taken with her installation and sophisticated concept development in her work inspired by a selection of 2,500 glass plates taken by her grandfather. Several images included portraits of the artist when she was between four and eight years old. Her work is a reconceptualization of history, which she refers to as “introspective archeology”. Her concept develops ideas of memory, body representation, desire and subjectivity.

I had the pleasure of discussing her process on an Facebook Live interview with Marianne Csaky (begins at 5:25 in the linked video clip).

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