Monday, October 12, 2015

Pic of the week

Our friend here in Tokyo Ivan Vartanian has written the book on Japanese photobooks (literally). Until surprisingly recently Japanese photographers only published their work in books, rather than as prints, and collecting these books has become a big competitive business. Every small bookshop throughout Japan has long since been stripped of the valuable first editions which are the only way to own some of the rarer images by earlier photographers. We mention this because the photobook idea is getting a boost in New Zealand next year in association with Writers Week. Photobook New Zealand will be held in Wellington from 11-13 March 2016 and will feature books made in New Zealand plus talks, advice, panels and there's even an award.

One of Peter Peryer's favourite provocations is to claim all art books as photography books. And in the sense that they are all photographs of art works he is absolutely right. Now that photography has largely shed its messianic zeal for itself as a medium, the possibilities for photobooks can include a fresh look at NZ's own history in the field alongside the burst of new productions. And the first impression? They're cheap. You can still get pretty good copies of most of the prize NZ photography books if you look around and are prepared to pay somewhat more than the published price. That even includes Ans Westra's famous Washday at the pa of 1964 with the note from the publisher Caxton Press that we managed to snag a few months ago for $30. A quick look round found:

Ans Westra's  Maori with James Ritchie 1967 for $15
The Active Eye: contemporary New Zealand photography catalogue from 1975 for $16
Marti Friedlander's Moko Maori Tattooing in the 20th Century produced with Michael King in 1972 for $16
Brian Brake's New Zealand gift of the sea published with Maurice Shadbolt in1963 for $63
Robin Morison's The South Island of New Zealand from the Road at $375

You can help support Photobook New Zealand and find out more about it here.