of a Medium
Kunst und Gesellschaft
Together We Are More 27
Cooperation in Times of Transition
Photobooks for All! 31
Between the Novel and the Film 55
A Brief History of the Photobook
What Is It Made of? 67
Experiences with Participation by Virtue of Art
Worlds of Contradiction 77
Between Global Upheavals and Local Lifeworlds
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
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
Aesthetic Experience—How Does That Work? 239
2.3. Publishing Photobooks
From the Artist Talks 279
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
Renate and Wolfgang Krieg
Yasemin İnce Albayrak
Big Little City 387
Hyperpresence and Reflection 407
The Photobook under Digital Conditions
Stand Up and Speak Out! 413
A Celebration of Photobooks by Women
The Photobook between Colonialism, 425
Propaganda, and Activism
Perspectives from Indonesia
Take Part and Take a Chance! 433
Participatory Potentials of a Medium
Ruth Gilberger, Markus Schaden
Special Thanks 467
Together We Are More 27
Cooperation in Times of Transition
Photobooks for All! 31
THE NOVEL AND
A BRIEF HISTORY
OF THE PHOTOBOOK
“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
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
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!
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.
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,
For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds Of Happiness
London 2005 (Mack)
Paris 2013 (Loco)
A Mobile Photobook Project: World in Transition
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
“If you ignore the audience,
the audience will ignore you.”
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
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
HOW DO I
AN EDITORIAL GUIDE
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
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.
ARCHEOLOGY OF THE SOUL
„Cardie“ – Marie Schlüter
Special Thanks 467