Image-text photobooks in a nutshell #7: Sebastian Hau on Vedove by Homma et al.
We asked a pool of international photobook experts to share with us an image-text photobook they find particularly interesting, regardless of its publication date and where text is a fundamental element in the narrative (not a mere introduction or essay on the photoworks). Here Sebastian Hau reveals why Takashi Homma’s Vedove (Widows), published by Fantom in 2010 (2 volumes: pages 16 + 55, 23 x 17 cm) has really impressed him. Homma’s book is not the only one he mentions because Hau has been interested in the image-text subject for a long time, and he confesses that “every serious collector will have a hard time deciding for anything favorite”.
Takashi Homma’s Vedove (Widows) has one of the most surprising texts, by Francesco Zanot, who transcribes the photographs and their layout into words, so that the image pages have echo chambers in another language. The writer treats carefully, elegantly, passionately but constrains himself to what can be seen. But in the ‘simplicity’ of his texts Zanot helps us transcend the surface of the images and pages to help us understand the artistic process that has created the work.
I’m also thinking about Larry Sultan’s Pictures from Home, one of the rather rare instances where a photographer accompanies his work by a text, into which he invests great honesty, together with a storytelling that is worthy the comparison to the great American novelists.
Surely the opposite to Chris Killip’s iridescent few words at the beginning of In Flagrante, words that will certainly be illuminating as they will be confusing future generations.
A lesser known example is Jean-Marc Bustamante’s catalogue L.P. (Long Playing), where the writer invents a vernissage and gets lost in the procedures of the art world, a wry and funny text which is in seeming opposition to the calm work of the photographer, but yet enhances the pleasure of spending time with this book considerably.
Finally, in honor of the great Lewis Baltz, may he rest in peace, I will never forget the shock of the beautiful text that Gus Blaisdell contributed to Candlestick Point, in mixing the personal, literature, philosophy in a way that is rarely to be found in photobooks.
Sebastian Arthur Hau has created the bookshop for LE BAL and is now its art director. He organizes events (Cosmos, with Olivier Cablat, Polycopies, with Laurent Chardon), interviews photographers for the Silencio Club, works on books with Yellow Magic (together with Pierre Hourquet, Eduardo Serafim, Fabrice Wagner and Benoit Vollmer), and regularly contributes to magazines (Else, IMA, Foam, The Eyes). He has curated shows for the F-Stop Festival in Leipzig, the Warsaw photo month and Paris Photo.