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Book of the Week: A Pick by Elisabeth Tonnard

X Marks the Spot by Joachim Schmid
This week's Book of the Week pick comes from artist, poet and book maker Elisabeth Tonnard who has selected X Marks the Spot self-published by Joachim Schmid. Our pick of the week is a timely publication that focuses on the culture of picture making at the location of JFK's assassination.

"Another book by Joachim Schmid about how, where and why people use photography. For years and years Schmid has been going online to look at other people's pictures and to read what people are writing about their photography. From his observations came a heap of artist's books, most notably the ninety-six books in the Other People's Pictures project, but also the popular and very funny Black Books series. X Marks the Spot is not part of these series but feels closely connected to them. The book shows tourists who visit the site where John F. Kennedy was shot, and who have their pictures taken while they stand on one of the white X's that mark where the shooting took place. This is apparently a popular pastime, and one that requires frantic hurrying to the middle of a road during lulls in traffic.

"There are two types of images in the book: the portraits that the tourists themselves posted on sites such as Flickr, and the footage Schmid obtained by watching a webcam that is placed looking down on the scene from the exact same perspective as the assassin -- shooting the tourists shooting themselves. It is a strange thing all in all. The place has become like a theatre where people want to position themselves as the star; as if what happened there was never anything else than an occurrence on TV. Apart from the sadness of this, the book luckily brings the comfort of its own existence (good books always do). A factor here is the fine undercurrent of humor that is present somehow when you flip the pages and go from image to image; the alternation of found portraits and webcam images works really well as a communication from artist to reader. But the book already won me because of the satisfaction of the quote printed on the back and taken from a Flickr caption: 'I don't know why I felt the need to stand by the X but judging from everyone else, it would appear to be the thing to do.'” -- Elisabeth Tonnard


Elisabeth Tonnard is a Dutch artist and poet working in artists’ books, photography and literature. Since 2003 she has published thirty books in which texts and images extracted from the cultural archive are processed and laid out to exhibit their latent messages. The works range in scale and method from a book that is completely invisible, to a book containing a short story that swallowed a novel, to a book that is a swimming pool. The books are included in numerous public collections and are exhibited widely. In October 2013 her previously self-published title In this Dark Wood was released in a new edition by J&L Books.

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