Das Fotobuch in Kunst und Gesellschaft


ISBN 978-3-86859-594-9

The Photobook

in Art

and Society

Participative Potentials

of a Medium

Edited by

Montag Stiftung

Kunst und Gesellschaft






Together We Are More 27

Cooperation in Times of Transition

Ruth Gilberger

Photobooks for All! 31

An Introduction

Ruth Gilberger

1. Introductions

Between the Novel and the Film 55

A Brief History of the Photobook

Gerry Badger

What Is It Made of? 67

Experiences with Participation by Virtue of Art

Susanne Bosch

Worlds of Contradiction 77

Between Global Upheavals and Local Lifeworlds

Shalini Randeria

Photobooks on Transitions 87

Books from an Exhibition

Anne-Katrin Bicher, Frederic Lezmi, Markus Schaden


2. A Mobile Photobook Project: World in Transition

From Concept to Realisation 151

New Access to the Photobook

Anne-Katrin Bicher

2.1. Alliances on Site

Interviews with Project Partners 199

Michaela Selling (Kulturamt Rostock)

Frank Jebavy (Kulturbetriebe Duisburg)

Tobias Hartung (Kulturamt Kassel)

Yasemin İnce Albayrak/Birgit Hengesbach-Knoop (Frauentreff Brückenhof, Kassel)

Dieter Neubert (Fotobookfestival Kassel)

2.2. Exhibiting Photobooks Differently

Please Browse! 231

Notes on Exhibiting the Photobook

Anne-Katrin Bicher

Aesthetic Experience—How Does That Work? 239

Ruth Gilberger

2.3. Publishing Photobooks

From the Artist Talks 279

Andrea Diefenbach

Peter Bialobrzeski

Carolyn Drake

Carlos Spottorno

2.4. Seventy Dummies for the Future

Everyone Can Make a Photobook! 311

Frederic Lezmi, Markus Schaden


How Do I Encounter the Visual Chaos? 314

An Editorial Guide

Linn Phyllis Seeger, Wolfgang Zurborn

From Upheavals and New Beginnings 319

Reports from the Photobook Workshops

Ursula Birkner

Arax Karapetjan

Renate and Wolfgang Krieg

Prem Lüers

Joseph Maher

Gabriele Luck

Yasemin İnce Albayrak

Big Little City 387

Nico Baumgarten

3. Perspectives

Hyperpresence and Reflection 407

The Photobook under Digital Conditions

Michael Hagner

Stand Up and Speak Out! 413

A Celebration of Photobooks by Women

Russet Lederman

The Photobook between Colonialism, 425

Propaganda, and Activism

Perspectives from Indonesia

Gunawan Widjaja

Take Part and Take a Chance! 433

Participatory Potentials of a Medium

Ruth Gilberger, Markus Schaden



Partners 454

Authors 455

Photographs 460

Special Thanks 467

Imprint 468


Together We Are More 27

Cooperation in Times of Transition

Ruth Gilberger

Photobooks for All! 31

An Introduction

Ruth Gilberger







Gerry Badger


“A photobook is an autonomous art form,

comparable with a piece of sculpture, a

play, or a film.”

Ralph Prins 1

Ralph Prins was one of the first to use the word photobook with a specific connotation. It

does not refer to just any book illustrated by photographs. Instead, it is used to denote a

book whose primary message is carried by photographs, but photobook also suggests a

certain creative ambition on the part of its author, and it is indeed used to mark a qualitative

distinction. The American photographer John Gossage has defined the essence of

a good photobook as follows: “Firstly, it should contain great work. Secondly, it should

make that work function as a concise world within the book itself. Thirdly, it should have a

design that complements what is being dealt with. And finally, it should deal with content

that sustains an ongoing interest.” 2

As both Prins and Gossage indicate, the photobook is part of the photographic world, an

integral part of it, yet it is also its own world, with its own canon of great and highly regarded

works. Nevertheless, many of the key photobooks have been created by the leading photographers

of the day, and they have made key contributions to the development of photographic

aesthetics. Yet, photographers who are not part of the canon of great photographic

figures can occupy an honoured place in photobook history. Furthermore, in a

relatively recent development, excellent photobooks are being made by non-photographers,

using appropriated photographs of all kinds.

The first photobook appeared within five years of the medium’s invention. The first

photographic method, Louis Daguerre’s daguerreotype, introduced in 1839 in France,

was a singular image on a copper plate, therefore hardly conducive to making books. It

was William Henry Fox Talbot’s calotype negative, and its ability to reproduce an endless

number of positive prints, that created the basis for modern photography and for the

photobook in particular. In Great Britain in 1844, Talbot produced the first part of his multi-volume

treatise The Pencil of Nature 3 (1844–46) in which pasted-in calotypes accompanied

commentaries discussing the virtues and the future of photography. The Pencil set

something of a standard for the genre, in that it was both a showcase for a photographer’s

work but also a polemic for the photographic medium. Talbot was interested in the

practical uses of photography.

However, in 1843, Talbot’s Pencil was beaten to the punch, as it were, by the British

botanist Anna Atkins’ Photograms of British Algae 4 (1843–53), now rightly regarded as the


Between the Novel and the Film – Gerry Badger

first photobook. Atkins set a different standard. Indeed, whereas Talbot’s book is of its

time, Atkins’ could have been produced today. The stark but beautiful repetition of these

blue-and-white images prefigures the conceptual photobooks of 60s and 70s artists by

more than a century.

In the beginning, photography was referred to as the “half art, half science”. It was

invented in Great Britain and France, the two main colonial powers at the time, and quickly

became part of the knowledge-gathering industry, at the service of the imperialist enterprise.

Thus, nineteenth century photography, and especially the photobook, which was

adept at collating and categorising, focussed generally on the practical rather than the

artistic side of the medium in documenting the world.

For example, a book like Maxime du Camp’s Egypt, Nubia, Palestine and Syria 5 (1852),

served the disciplines of travel and antiquarianism, as did Auguste Salzmann’s Jerusalem 6

(1856), and Francis Frith’s Egypt, Sinai and Jerusalem 7 (1862–63), and many others. If the

past was an interest, so was the present, thus Philip Delamotte’s Crystal Palace 8 (1855),

and Édouard Baldus’s The Railway From Paris to Lyon and the Mediterranean 9 (1861–63),

showcased architecture, engineering, and national pride. War also occupied photographers,

not so much to condemn it but rather to justify the decisions of politicians, especially

the Crimean War in Great Britain and the American Civil War, as seen in George N. Barnard’s

Photographic Views of Sherman’s Campaign 10 (1866). In John Thomson’s Illustrations

of China and Its People 11 (1873), an apparently objective book documenting place,

architecture, and ethnology actually was serving the dictates of colonialism.

There were many other such books. Photography was interested in documenting the

other from the beginning, whereby middle-class, largely European photographers photographed

the lower classes and people of other races. Some books also served more dubious

sciences, like phrenology, the study of human physiognomy aiming to detect criminals

on the basis of their physical features. Photographic documentation was definitely a means

of social control, but could also be used in progressive social enterprises, like Thomas

Annan’s 12 Old Glasgow (1878–79), which was intended to document slum living conditions,

but also memorialise areas swept away for new social housing.

All the books mentioned were illustrated with original prints pasted into the pages, a

method both cumbersome and expensive. From photography’s beginning, various inventors

sought to combine photography with ink, enabling photographs to be printed in conventional

printing presses. Some of the methods initially developed were as cumbersome as handmade

prints, but in 1890, a small, roughly made book appeared, containing both photographs

and lithographs printed in ink. Jacob Riis’s How the Other Half Lives 13 (1890), published in

New York by the Danish-born emigré, introduced the half-tone plate, which became the

basis for all photographic book printing prior to the digital age, and marked the beginning

of photography as a mass medium. 14




Henk Wildschut

How Does the Future Taste?

For a commission, Henk Wildschut spent two years in the Netherlands

photographing the work of farmers and entrepreneurs looking for

innovations in food production. Their work fascinates him. He finds

himself over-romanticising organic products and realising that our

food is born in a clinical world full of regulations and protocols. A

world that is too complex to allow one to easily distinguish between

good and evil.

Wildschut, Henk (2013), Food, Rotterdam: Post Editions.

The Table of Power 2

Jacqueline Hassink

Power Brokers

What do the centres of power of the largest companies in the world look

like? This question interested Jacqueline Hassink (1966–2018)beginning

in the early 1990s, when she travelled around the globe for the first time

and photographed the boardrooms of the forty most important global

corporations and banks (The Table of Power, 1 1996). Fifteen years later,

she returns, for she is interested in whether there has been a change in

the companies and corporate boardrooms following the 2007 global

financial crisis. As in 1993, a few doors remain closed for the photo artist,

including Daimler AG in Stuttgart.

Hassink, Jacqueline (2011), The Table of Power 2, Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz.

1 Hassink, Jacqueline (1996), The Table of Power, Amsterdam: Menno van de Koppel.


Photobooks on Transitions – Anne-Katrin Bicher, Markus Schaden

Die Mauer ist weg!

Mark Power

Gatecrashing the Fall of the Berlin Wall

As Mark Power flies by pure coincidence and with his last money in his

pocket on 9 November 1989 from London to Berlin, he does not yet

suspect that the wall will fall that night—and this occurrence will change

his life. Like “crashing a party I hadn’t been invited to” 1 was how Power

felt photographing the celebrations in the no-man’s land around Checkpoint

Charlie. The next morning, news agencies spread his photos

around the world. His career as a press photographer began, as the title

of the Berlin tabloid B.Z. headlined, “The wall is gone!”—inspiring him

to present this book twenty years later.

Power, Mark (2014), Die Mauer ist weg!, Brighton: Globtik Books.

1 Ibid.

Wild Pigeon

Carolyn Drake

Images of Resistance

How can you become acquainted with people who are being silenced by

state censorship? One way is to exchange pictures. Or this, at least, is

how American photographer Carolyn Drake approached the Uyghurs

who live in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in Western China. The title

of her self-published book Wild Pigeon pays homage to Uyghur writer

Nurmuhemmet Yasin, who was arrested in China in 2004 for publishing

his eponymous story (“Wild Pigeon”) and died in prison in 2011, according

to Amnesty International. 1

Drake, Carolyn (2014), Wild Pigeon, n.p.: self-published.

1 “China. Uigurischer Schriftsteller im Gefängnis gestorben”, Amnesty.de, 03.01.2013,



Julian Germain

For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds Of Happiness

London 2005 (Mack)


Yves Gellie

Human Version

Paris 2013 (Loco)


A Mobile Photobook Project: World in Transition

A Mobile




The centrepiece of World in Transition was the photobook exhibition with

works by twenty-two internationally renowned photographers who work

on contemporary transitions. The range of topics covered by the books on

display was wide: climate change, urbanisation, migration and flight, and

political and economic upheavals, to name a few, as well as personal transitions.

The books were displayed in three cargo containers and were freely

accessible to be read and touched. The spatial staging was reduced, and

short texts introduced the content of the books.

Outdoor Installation

We showed the majority of the individual photographs from the picture

atlas in XXL size as weatherproof PVC prints on euro pallets. These stood

outside the exhibition containers on the exhibition site, so that passers-by

could interact directly with the images, take selfies, or study their details.

Touching was encouraged! Like all other exhibition elements, these remained

undamaged, even though we had consciously decided not to hire a

security service. In Rostock, the volunteers not only helped with the production

of the outdoor installation but also curated the placement of the

images on site.


From Concept to Realisation – Anne-Katrin Bicher

Catalogue Workshop

In the Catalogue Workshop visitors were able to compile their own exhibition

catalogue free of charge, using photographs from the various photobooks,

as a loose-leaf collection. This proved to be a highly entertaining

and popular way of taking an extra moment to engage with what visitors

had seen, try out image combinations, and share thoughts about one’s

visual preferences with other visitors or the arts education team. In the

workshop, the catalogue pages could be further developed into collages or

other formats. When it rained, the workshop also offered shelter for the

children‘s workshops, which otherwise took place outside.

Café Courage

The Courage was still a prototype in Groß Klein. The container, open on one

of the long sides, was conceived as an important social meeting point,

supplied with drinks and snacks by a local caterer. Given the cool weather

and the space’s comparatively sparse furnishing, however, the café in Rostock

did not yet offer the relaxing atmosphere and artistic environment

which was needed. In the later stages of the project, the design of the

Courage as a “walk-in photobook” was thus developed more clearly, and

the catering was reduced to free drinks offered by the team.This achieved

the desired effect: over the course of the project, the Courage significantly

contributed to the social quality of World in Transition and was highly frequented

by visitors as an inspiring communicative hub.

Photobook Workshops

The workshops offered the most intensive artistic experience with the photobook

and their own photographic practice. With the support of photographers

and book designers, participants who had no previous knowledge

of photography or book production were able to produce a photobook

dummy within two days. They worked with photos from smartphones or

digital cameras, as well with analogue prints. In Rostock, this intensive

format of engaging aesthetically with photobooks showed its potential.

We consequently optimised the the workshop programme, increasing the

number of workshops and encouraged diversity of the groups in terms of

age, gender, social context, and photographic interests.


Publishing Photobooks

“If you ignore the audience,

the audience will ignore you.”

Carlos Spottorno

In Kassel, Carlos Spottorno and Markus Schaden had a sofa talk on new strategies in

photobook making and distribution, reaching big audiences, and travelling light.

For The Pigs, 1 you faked the Economist magazine, for the photobook project Wealth

Management 2 you set up a website by the fictional WTF bank. When did you have the

ideas for these unusual photobook projects?

I have been focussing on the Southern European crisis for a long time and I wanted to

make The Pigs book to address the story of Europe. First of all, I wanted to make very

expensive and good looking books, because I thought the contrast of very poor social

conditions depicted in an expensive book would be something interesting. But at some

point, I thought to myself: “Why not just fake the source of where the term ‘PIGS’ was

born? So I came up with the idea of creating a book in a financial magazine design. The

most difficult thing was to find the right paper.

Could the book find new audiences from different parts of society? Were there forms

of feedback which you had never expected?

This has been my goal for a long time, to reach out to big audiences. Yes, The Pigs is

cheap and light, so you can carry it easily. When you go to festivals and other photobook

events, it is a very good idea to produce light books. People like to buy them, as it is easy

to take them back home.

And you used guerrilla strategies of distributing The Pigs—tell us about it!

By chance, just after the photo-festival in Arles, I had to travel to Los Angeles within

forty-eight hours. At all the airports where I had a stop-over, I put the magazine in the

stack of the airport newsagents and posted a picture of that on Facebook and Instagram.

Some people believed it was true, that I actually sold The Pigs at the airport. It worked out

well to attract people’s attention and to create the impression that selling photobooks

via mainstream book distributors could actually be possible.


From the Artist Talks – Carlos Spottorno

Is the response of the audience important for you when making a book? Does it

motivate you?

The original motivation of anything I do is because I am interested in the topic, not a

possible audience. But once I have chosen my topic, I certainly try to find ways to reach

new audiences. If you ignore the audience, the audience will ignore you. That is a very

basic idea that I believe in since my advertising times. If people do not understand

whatever you are trying to say, it is useless. So indeed, my aim is to reach people and

their feedback is very important. It is part of the equation.

So what was the next step after The Pigs? How did Wealth Management come along?

Wealth Management mimics a private bank brochure. I had been working on the financial

world for an assignment. So I travelled to Switzerland, Luxembourg, and London and

photographed people and situations who to me looked like rich gangster plotting in the

back of society ways to enrich themselves. For The Pigs I photographed poor people, for

Wealth Management I photographed rich people. When I had completed the book, I

presented it at the festival in Kassel and Martin Parr was raising the questions: “Carlos, is

there anything beyond pastiche books? Can you do anything different?” And I said:

“Yes, I am working on something new.” However, eventually, my new book also ended

up being “pastiche”—La Grieta 3 (2016).

Let’s speak about this new book of yours. With La Grieta you actually developed a new

photobook genre: the photographic novel. How did the idea for this come about?

Again, this book project began with an assignment by a magazine to shoot the borders of

the European Union. After some trips, the writer Guillermo Abril and I had come home

with 25,000 images, had recorded lots of voices and had many stories to tell. We realised

that the traditional black and white photobook was not appropriate with regard to narrating

a story about the EU, which is dramatically changing. Brexit news were rife at the time,

for example. So I thought to myself, what is similar or close to our photographic world

that is a useful narrative to tell a long and complicated story? Graphic novels came to my

mind, and they gave me the impulse to turn the photographic images into graphic images.

I like this treatment of the photographs so much. I get addicted to it. You have the same

image, but see it from a different perspective.

You found a German, French, Italian, and Spanish publisher for the book …

Yes, so far 22,000 copies have been published. The topic is very relevant for all the European

countries that the book is published in. The feedback I have on the content of the book is

similar almost everywhere we go. Everyone is interested, shocked to see how many things

are currently happening in Europe at the same time and yet appreciative of the fact that


Seventy Dummies for the Future





As part of the versatile workshop format World in Transition, certain editorial approaches

have emerged over the years which make it possible to analyse and structure any pictorial

material, however heterogeneous it may be. On the following pages we will explain, with

the use of graphics, how this flood of images has actually come about and how it is possible

to navigate the visual chaos of one’s own images without betraying this liveliness to

conventional systems of order.

Photography as a Reaction to the World of Images

Today, photography reflects not only an encounter with reality but also with the collective

world of images, because in everyday life we move not only through architecture,

landscape, and social interactions but also amidst images that constantly confront us

in urban space and the media. Our consciousness is therefore shaped from early on by

the perception of images whose content and meaning communicate far beyond

language barriers. This collective image memory is part of how we see, and it influences

the images we produce. In this sense, the photograph of a landscape not only depicts

the landscape itself but also gives an impression of already-existing pictures of it, and

of the personal perspective of the photographer.


How Do I Encounter the Visual Chaos? – Linn Phyllis Seeger, Wolfgang Zurborn

How Do I Encounter the Visual Chaos?

The world we move through is chaotic—at least once you zoom out: apart from the

microcosm of our everyday life, which might be highly structured, we find ourselves in a

world in which myriad cultures, realities, structures of identity and habit, and mentalities

overlap. This is the richness of the world many people seek to discover when they

travel and attempt to break out of their own microcosm. In the act of photographing,

moments and situations amidst this chaos are discovered and singled out. But photographs

that are taken based on an intuition often leave even the photographer perplexed,

with the question: why did I take this picture? A new chaos emerges: the chaos

found on the table when dozens and hundreds of such images are waiting to be edited.

At this point, the principle is not to clear or clean up this chaos, but to structure it. The

photographer’s intuition must be trusted. What is to be discovered—through an analysis

of the visual language and what we call visual modules—is why the photographer took

the shot.

Creating Order without Betraying Chaos

Photographs follow a visual syntax that needs to be deciphered. In every assemblage

of images, however disorderly it may be, there are modules of visual language which

allow structures to be discerned. If the collection of images describes a journey, for

example, the experience can be defined by modules such as “person”, “space”, “object”,

or the like. This makes portraits, for example, a module, because they define persons

as an element of the narrative. Similarly, architecture, landscape, or interior photographs

describe the place in question and thus function as a module “space”. Objets

trouvés, which can tell something about the processes, habits, and peculiarities of

life in a particular place, are also a common subject for photographs. Nevertheless,

every photographer expresses such modules in different visual forms. The process of

analysing the individual visual means and modules is retrospective. It gradually

counters the supposed arbitrariness of the images with structures and criteria that

make images intelligible through comparison.




„Cardie“ – Marie Schlüter

Duisburg 2017



Partners 454

Authors 455

Photographs 460

Special Thanks 467

Imprint 468

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