Indie Photography Group Gallery, Tel Aviv
March 25 - April 17, 2021
"A photobook is an autonomous art form, comparable with a piece of sculpture, a play or a film. The photographs lose their own photographic character as things 'in themselves' and become parts, translated into printing ink, of a dramatic event, called a book."
- Ralph Prins, 1969.
The Photobook exhibition demonstrates the medium’s possibilities with analog, digital, one-of-a-kind, and reproducible images. Visitors are invited to edit their own photobook edition and leaf through a selection of published photobooks comprised by the participating artists.
The exhibition includes ten artists that focus on the medium’s potential as a creative tool. Their artworks reflect on the tension between the camera and the human body, within the walls of the studio or out in the streets. They search for intimacy with complete strangers or loved ones. Some refer to the history of photography and its founders, while others document scenes from travels and real-life situations.
The exhibition is interactive, allowing the visitor to become an editor and consider the connection of multiple images in their mind, similar to the Kuleshov effect - a sequence of images bound in a book conveys more meaning than a single shot.
Photography and photobooks have parallel histories, evolving hand in hand with technological development. Within the first five years of the invention of photography, the photobook appeared. In 1843, the British botanist Anna Atkins created the first photobook, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1843-53). A year later, William Henry Fox Talbot produced the multi-volume book The Pencil of Nature (1844-46), with 24 calotype plates and a brief text describing the invention.
Photobooks produced in the nineteenth century were practical, documenting the world, especially for travel and anthropological findings. For example, Auguste Salzmann's book, Jerusalem: A Study and Photographic Reproduction of the Monuments of the Holy City (1856), was an archaeological summary of Jerusalem bound as an album. Jacob Riis's photobook, How the Other Half Lives (1890), documented the living conditions in New York and introduced the half-tone plate, which became the basis for all photographic book printing before the digital age. During the twentieth century, the publication of journalistic photography increased with the help of the mass production of newspapers and magazines.
In 1989, the term photobook was coined by visual artist Ralph Prins. In 2004, the word was put on the map with the book-turned-trilogy The Photobook: A History, Volume I by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger. The three books solidify the history of the medium. The term was institutionalized through organizations, namely Aperture Foundation and Paris Photo which jointly started awarding photobooks and their authors in 2012. In 2014, The PhotoBookMuseum was founded in Cologne, Germany, aiming to foster the photobook as a significant photographic medium. Today, despite the digital era, there is a global renaissance of printed matter with an uptick in photobooks. Fairs, festivals, and exhibitions have all aided in this recent boom.
Visitors at the exhibition are invited to create their own limited-edition photobook, by selecting ten out of fifteen A3 pages that feature printed photographs by the artists. After the selection, they fill out an order form and hand it over to the ‘Binding Room,’ where it is bound and ready to take home.