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photo-eye Book Reviews: Dune

Dune, Photographs by Misha de Ridder.
Published by Lay Flat, 2011.
Dune
Reviewed by George Slade
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Misha de Ridder Dune
Photographs by Misha de Ridder
Lay Flat, 2011. Softcover. 36 pp., Illustrated throughout, 9-1/2x11-1/2".

The satisfactions of this concise book are stated in the epigraph, four lines from an 19th century Dutch writer printed on an elegant extension of the soft cover that flows across your lap as you read. Courtesy of this design, the words accompany your experience of Dune, unlike most introductory quotations that disappear when a page is turned. (Thumbs up to Lay Flat for this.)

That extended flap also echoes the rolling topography of the dune landscape evoked in de Ridder's photographs. For good measure, the cover is sand-colored, though the photographs carry very little of this conventional sand tone. Perhaps the goal is to suggest "dune" then see how far the photographs can travel away from the base.

Dune, by Misha de Ridder. Published by Lay Flat, 2011.
Dune, by Misha de Ridder. Published by Lay Flat, 2011.
 Regardless, the effect is intriguing; de Ridder images the teeming ordinariness his countryman, Everhardus John Potgieter, implied when he wrote "Dreary are thy heavens and boisterous is thy shore,/Bare are thy dunes and plain thy fields galore" (translated from Dutch for the epigraph). De Ridder inscribes aspects of an unnamed "bare" and "boisterous" littoral region in thirteen color and black-and-white photographs of surprising range and effect. His work alternately sidesteps and utilizes the "dreary" skies; there are lovely slashes and splashes of sunlight here, and formal explorations of paths and flora that benefit from flatter light.

Dune, by Misha de Ridder. Published by Lay Flat, 2011.
A more extensive survey might overtax the topic, or descend into formal exercises around the treatment of "plain" landscapes. But Dune's aspirations are just right, and gracefully realized in this publication.—George Slade

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George Slade, a longtime contributor to photo-eye, is a photography writer, curator, historian and consultant based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He can be found on-line at http://rephotographica-slade.blogspot.com/

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