The Friday after Valentine’s Day, with love still in the air, book artists Julianna Foster and Louie Palu shared their love for the photo book. The afternoon workshop took place in the Morgan building. The two artists each presented their own photo book work to a group of eager young photographers and artists from across the city, showing among other things the diversity of possibility the photo book holds in store.
Foster, a professor of Photography at the University of the Arts, presented her work lone hunter, a book of images that “deliberately blur time and place, taking the viewer/reader from day to night, over a month and through seasons, the moon as the guide, marking time.” Foster explained her fascination with the moon, and its importance in the creation of a felt narrative in lone hunter. The name of the game, she stressed, is sequencing: great, introspective photographs are a given, but a sensitivity to concept and time through the most thoughtful sequencing possible is a must.
Palu, on the other hand, took a different approach to his own work. A documentary photographer and filmmaker, he presented on his work Front Towards the Enemy, a “deconstructed photobook” that presents his photos of the Afghanistan war in a fluid, interchangeable format. Past the initial curation of photos, sequencing remains crucial, but rather than the artist, it is the reader who makes most of the organizational decisions. Palu explained that, as a reporter, he values this freedom of the reader to create their own narrative and manipulate potential bias.
After these presentations, the artists each then introduced different structures of a photo book through a variety of examples. Palu showed examples of FEDERAL CITY, a concept newspaper of his “that explores Washington, D.C., during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Again with this newspaper, the fluidity of form was key: an unbound newspaper can be taken apart and rearranged to form new narratives. He went on to stress the importance of physical mock-ups when making a photo book, and showed a deconstructed mock-up of an upcoming work on the effects of Asbestos.
Foster showed a variety of works ranging from Jordan Baumgarten’s heart-breaking Good Sick, a hard-cover visual walk through his neighborhood in Kensington, to staple-bound zines, to books about books. She showed the meaning that sequencing could make if done right: the order of photographs; their interaction with each other in a spread; their place on the page; whether they have a border or fill the space. Workshop participants then got a lesson in two single-page book forms. The sound of folding and cutting filled the room.
Reporting and photography by Alyson del Pino.