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Book Review Signs of Your Identity. By Daniella Zalcman Reviewed by Forrest Soper Working under a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Zalcman spoke to 45 individuals in the Saskatchewan province, who were placed in the Indian Residential Schooling System as children. Many of their stories are told in Signs of Your Identity.
Signs of Your Identity. By  Daniella Zalcman
FotoEvidence, 2016. 
Signs of Your Identity.
Reviewed by Forrest Soper.

Signs of Your Identity.
Photographs by Daniella Zalcman. Text by Marlene McNab. Cree Translation by Doreen Oakes.
FotoEvidence, New York, USA, 2016. In English and Cree. 120 pp., 56 black-and-white illustrations, 8¼x8¼".

For roughly 120 years Canada operated numerous institutions under the guise of the Indian Residential Schooling system. Thanks to the Indian Act of 1876, officials were legally allowed to take indigenous children into their custody and place them in predominantly Catholic boarding schools. Here children were subjected to horrific living conditions. Countless reports of physical and sexual abuse plagued these facilities. Disease was rampant, and due to poor living conditions and inadequate care, the resulting death toll was abhorrent. While there are no official records of how many children passed away, investigations concluded that the death toll reached at least 6,000.

Signs of Your Identity. By  Daniella Zalcman. FotoEvidence, 2016.

All of this was supposedly done to ensure that indigenous children were properly educated and better prepared to enter the workforce. In reality, the institutions attempted to assimilate a new generation into “western culture” by abolishing aboriginal culture, traditions, and language. Children, sometimes as young as two or three years old were taken from their homes and placed in institutions where they would be punished for embracing their culture or speaking in their native language.

This program was truly one of the darker chapters in Canadian history and was in practice for far too long. The last school closed in 1996, and the first official apology from the Canadian government was issued in 2008. Still, the effects of this now defunct program are present in the individuals who survived.

Daniella Zalcman tells the stories of these survivors in her first monograph, Signs of Your Identity. Working under a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Zalcman spoke to 45 individuals in the Saskatchewan province, who were placed in the Indian Residential Schooling System as children. Many of their stories are told in Signs of Your Identity.

Signs of Your Identity. By  Daniella Zalcman. FotoEvidence, 2016.

This book has already received notable praise, being the recipient of the 2016 FotoEvidence Book Award, and being selected as one of the Best Books of 2016 by Sara Terry, and it is clear why. The book, with its unassuming gray cover, is remarkably powerful both in terms of content and design. Beginning with a brief history of the Indian Residential School System and an introduction by the mental health therapist Marlene McNab, this book quickly begins telling the stories of twenty-five individuals who were placed in these schools for various durations of time.

For the majority of the book, Zalcman follows a simple but incredibly successful design formula. On the left, text displays the name of the individual pictured on the opposite page, as well as which school they were placed in, how long they were there, and a quote about their experience. On the right, a portrait of the individual is printed on translucent vellum. When the vellum page is turned, a double exposure is revealed beneath. This image is composed of both a portrait of the individual and a photograph taken where the residential school they attended once stood.

Signs of Your Identity. By  Daniella Zalcman. FotoEvidence, 2016.
Signs of Your Identity. By  Daniella Zalcman. FotoEvidence, 2016.

The result is incredibly moving. When the vellum is displayed on the right you can just barely see evidence of the double exposure, an illusion that is three-dimensional and seems to breathe and change as it is lifted ever so slightly from the page beneath it. When the vellum is displayed on the left, you are able not only see the double exposure in its entirety, but you also must physically look through the straight portrait to see that individual's words. Often vellum is used in book design as an embellishment or a garnish, but rarely is it used to enhance the content of the work as well as it does in Signs of Your Identity.

While the design aspects of this book are to be admired, they in no way detract from the importance and the gravity of the work. People tell us about being raped and abused as children, a woman mentions that she is now afraid of god and a man describes how, as a result of his experience, he struggles to love his own children. Their stories are haunting, and we know that we are only shown a small glimpse of the atrocities that occurred.

Signs of Your Identity. By  Daniella Zalcman. FotoEvidence, 2016.

Perhaps that is why this book is so powerful, not only because it talks about the horrible actions of the past, but because Zalcman was able to create something so beautiful and dignified despite them. This book is less about condemnation and more about resilience.

Zalcman is an outsider to the native community, a point addressed in the afterword, however, it is perfectly clear that she addressed this topic with dignity and grace. This book not only brings light to an incredibly important subject — but also does so while creating something powerful that is full of beauty. Signs of Your Identity deserves all of the praise it has received and more. — Forrest Soper

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Forrest Soper is a photographer and artist based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. A graduate of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, he previously worked at Bostick & Sullivan. Forrest is the Editor of photo-eye Blog.

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photo-eye Gallery 2016 Gallery Highlights As 2016 comes to a close, photo-eye Gallery would like to look back at a few of our favorite highlights from the year.

As 2016 comes to a close, photo-eye Gallery would like to look back at a few of our favorite highlights from the year. We are thrilled with each or our represented artist’s exhibitions as well as the work by our new friends from 2016.

We kicked off the year with the collaborative Fire and Ice exhibition featuring astrophotgrapher Alan Friedman and photomicrographer Douglas Levere. The spring followed with Gardening at Night, the marvelous series by Cig Harvey, marking her first solo exhibition with photo-eye. In the summer months, we presented Nick Brandt’s powerful new work, Inherit the Dust as well as exhibiting Michael Kenna for the first time with a 30-year retrospective of his remarkable career. Richard Tuschman’s exceptional photographic novella, Once Upon A Time in Kazamierz marked his second solo exhibition with photo-eye. We also had the pleasure of hosting 2016 CENTER Project Grant Winners, Megan E. Doherty and Elena Anasova during CENTER’s Review Santa Fe Festival. We proudly end the year with local photographer Brad Wilson’s AFFINITY series, his first solo exhibition in our Santa Fe Railyard District location.

In addition to these seven feature exhibitions, we displayed a selection of work by Kate Breakey, Rachel Phillips, and Bob Cornelis. In the photo-eye Bookstore Project Space we showcased gallery artist Jamey Stillings in honor of his new award-winning book The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar and Steve Fitch in celebration of his fantastic new book American Motel Signs, among several other guest artists including Wendel White and Baron Wolman.

The photo-eye team would like to say THANK YOU to all of our artists for their hard work, and our clients for their support and dedication in 2016! We're looking forward to working with you in the new year.

2015 September 17 – Massive © Alan Friedman | Archival Pigment Print, 19x19", Ed. of 15, $1,500

Snowflake 2014.03.23.005 © Douglas Levere | Archival Pigment Print, 12x12", Ed. of 10, $50
Wolfhound, Rockland, Maine, 2012 © Cig Harvey | Chromogenic Print, 14x14", Ed. of 10, $2,500
Carta I A © Bob Cornelis | Palladium Print, 6x6", Ed. of 10, $800
WASTELAND WITH ELEPHANT, 2015 © Nick Brandt | Archival Pigment Print, 38x79.8", Ed. of 15
Hashikui Rocks, Study 1, Kushimoto, Honshu, Japan, 2002 © Michael Kenna | Gelatin-Silver Print, 8x8", Ed. of 45, $4,000
Divination by Mirror © Rachel Phillips | Varnished Transfer to Antique Photo, 6.5x4.3", Unique Object, $700
Couple In The Street © Richard Tuschman | Archival Pigment Print, 21x14", Ed. of 5, $2,300
Moon Setting Over Saguaros © Kate Breakey | Archival Pigment Inkon Glass, 24kt Gold Leaf, 10x14", Ed. of 20, $1,650

Section_001, 2014 © Elena Anosova
Back of the Yards, Winter, 2015 © Megan E. Doherty
Black Leopard #2, Monterey, CA, 2014 © Brad Wilson | Archival Pigment Print, 28x23", Ed. of 15, $1,250

For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact the Gallery Staff at 505.988.5152 x202 or

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Christopher J Johnson Christopher J Johnson selects Please Return Polaroid by Miles Aldridge as Book of the Week.
Please Return Polaroid. By Miles Aldridge. Steidl Verlag, 2016.
Christopher J Johnson selects Please Return Polaroid by Miles Aldridge from Steidl Verlag as Book of the Week.

Book Review Chicxulub By Mårten Lange Reviewed by Karen Jenkins “For those tuned into the lost worlds of our prehistory, the word Chicxulub is enough to conjure the cataclysmic event of some 66 million years ago that wiped out much of life on Earth and lead to the extinction of the dinosaurs."
ChicxulubBy Mårten Lange. Self-Published, 2016.
Reviewed by Karen Jenkins

Photographs by Mårten Lange.
Self-Published, Stockholm, Sweden, 2016. 48 pp., 28 duotone illustrations, 8¼x11". 

photo-eye Gallery Video: Brad Wilson's AFFINITY – On Location photo-eye Gallery is excited to share behind-the-scenes footage of Brad Wilson on location in a Los Angeles soundstage creating images for the AFFINITY series.

photo-eye Gallery is excited to share 5 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage of Brad Wilson on location in a Los Angeles soundstage creating images for the AFFINITY series. AFFINITY, currently on view at photo-eye Gallery, has been extended through Sat. Feb. 4th. For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact the Gallery Staff at 505.988.5152 x202 or

"I had this short video put together to give people a sense of what it was like to work with animals in a studio environment. It’s 5 minutes compiled from over 5 days of actual shooting, so it represents only a tiny fraction of the real time involved with each subject. This particular part of the Affinity project took place on an expansive sound stage in Los Angeles that was selected for its ability to accommodate even the largest of mammals such as elephants or giraffes. All the animals I worked with there were brought in from nearby ranches in the southern California area where they lived. Although they were usually booked for 2 - 4 hours apiece, I was lucky to get a few good moments with each one. This was the great challenge of the series, but spending time with the animals, regardless of the artistic outcome, was the great reward." –Brad Wilson


Read our 2016 interview with Brad Wilson

Read More about AFFINITY

Purchase a SIGNED copy of WILD LIFE by Brad Wilson

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Christian Michael Filardo Christian Michael Filardo selects Japanese Whispers by Zaza Bertrand as Book of the Week.
Japanese WhispersBy Zaza Bertrand Art Paper Editions, 2016.
Christian Michael Filardo picks Japanese Whispers by Zaza Bertrand from Art Paper Editions as Book of the Week.

Book Review Western Landscapes. By Lee Friedlander Reviewed by Blake Andrews Yale has published a slew of Friedlander books since acquiring his archive in 2010, and they've all been hefty. Yet they're dwarfed by the scale of Western Landscapes. Like the West itself, this tome is grand, 14 x 12 inches in size, chock full with 189 full page photographs.
Western Landscapes. By  Lee Friedlander
Yale University Art Gallery, 2016. 
Western Landscapes. 
Reviewed by Blake Andrews.

Western Landscapes.
Photographs by Lee Friedlander. Text by Richard Benson.
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, USA, 2016. 200 pp., 189 tri-tone illustrations, 13½x15".

photo-eye Gallery Gallery Seasonal Selections The intricate natural geometry of a snowflake, the revealing glow of an antique snapshot, and the snow white fur of an Arctic Fox are among photo-eye Gallery's curated selection of seasonal favorites. Featuring prints by Douglas Levere, Amy Friend, and Brad Wilson.
Douglas Levere, Snowflake 2015.01.26.001, Archival Pigment Print, 12x12 inches, Edition of 10, $500

The intricate natural geometry of a snowflake, the revealing glow of an antique snapshot, and the snow white fur of an Arctic Fox are among photo-eye Gallery's curated selection of seasonal favorites. A number of prints by Showcase artists Douglas Levere and Amy Friend, as well as works by Represented artist Brad Wilson, whose AFFINITY exhibition is currently on view through Jan. 21st 2017, are in stock and still available to ship for the Holidays.

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Adam Bell Adam Bell selects Fate Shifts Shapes by Nicholas Muellner, Anzhelina Polonskaya, Sasha Rudensky and Clemens von Wedemeyer as Book of the Week.
Fate Shifts ShapesBy Nicholas Muellner, 
Anzhelina Polonskaya, Sasha Rudensky 
and Clemens von Wedemeyer. 
Spaces Corners, 2016 .
Adam Bell selects Fate Shifts Shapes by Nicholas Muellner, Anzhelina Polonskaya, Sasha Rudensky and Clemens von Wedemeyer from Spaces Corners as Book of the Week.

Like many books, Fate Shifts Shapes began as a show. In this case, a 2016 exhibition at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center curated by Nicholas Muellner that included his own work, as well as that by the poet Anzhelina Polonskaya, and the artists Sasha Rudensky and Clemens von Wedemeyer. Like most ambitious catalogs, the book does not simply transcribe or record the show, but instead reimagines it as a fascinating artist book. Eschewing captions or explanatory essays, the only text is interspersed fragments of poetry by Polonskaya. Weaving together the various artists’ work (shot almost entirely in Russia, Ukraine, and the Russian-occupied Crimea), Fate Shifts Shapes is an evocative and mysterious book about the fragility and resilience of identity and personhood in the face of an authoritarian and conservative regime.

In constant motion, the book makes excellent use of double and single gatefolds — opening and closing, the pages spill out to reveal or fold shut to conceal. Paradoxically, each fold and interlinked image seems to draw us closer, while at the same time leading us further astray or down a hall of mirrors. This clever design element mirrors the theatrical personas visible throughout the book — men and women displaying, hiding or performing their gender or identities in peculiar ways. Young men in black leather outfits hold a giant python. Two young strippers stretch and comb out blonde extensions on a mirrored stage. Yet danger seems to exist around the bend. Although not explicit, the work focuses largely on gay men, women, and migrants — vulnerable populations most places, but especially in socially conservative Russia. Read in this light, the work is about the ways in which identity is shaped by circumstance and pressured to conform. At a time when we’re confronted by our own authoritarian turn, it’s important to remind ourselves how much we still control, be wary of the ways we’re being forced to change, and fight when we can. — Adam Bell

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Fate Shifts ShapesBy Nicholas Muellner, Anzhelina Polonskaya, Sasha Rudensky and Clemens von Wedemeyer. Spaces Corners, 2016 .

Fate Shifts ShapesBy Nicholas Muellner, Anzhelina Polonskaya, Sasha Rudensky and Clemens von Wedemeyer. Spaces Corners, 2016 .

ADAM BELL is a photographer and writer. His work has been widely exhibited, and his writing and reviews have appeared in numerous publications including Afterimage, The Art Book Review, The Brooklyn Rail, fototazo, Foam Magazine, Lay Flat, photo-eye and Paper-Journal. His books include The Education of a Photographer and Vision Anew: The Lens and Screen Arts. He is currently on staff and faculty at the MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department at the School of Visual Art. ( and

Books Interview: Peter Bialobrzeski One late night (and one simultaneously early morning) in July 2016 Christopher J Johnson of photo-eye Bookstore and Peter himself had a phone conversation between the cities of Santa Fe, NM and Kochi in India.

Taipei Diary By  Peter Bialobrzeski. The Velvet Cell, 2016.

Peter Bialobrzeski is a prolific photographer. In recent years he has made several studies of cities with a view towards socio-political views and the city as a site of independent character. These works have been published by Hatje Cantz and, more recently, by The Velvet Cell and focused on cities as varied as Shanghai, Cairo and Wolfsburg among others. One late night  (and one simultaneously early morning) in July 2016 Christopher J Johnson of photo-eye Bookstore and Peter himself had a phone conversation between the cities of Santa Fe, NM and Kochi in India.

Cairo Diary By  Peter Bialobrzeski. The Velvet Cell, 2014.

Christopher J Johnson (Santa Fe, NM): Considering your City Diaries series there is something I wanted to ask you – you have figures in them occasionally but they are few, as opposed to works of abundant street life, so I wondered why you chose to show these cities in a quiet way.

Peter Bialobrzeski (Kochi): Well for me it’s that I’m very interested in the urban surface and what it actually tells of a city, and how you place it in the political and sociological context. So if you look at Athens Diary and Cairo Diary you’ll find very different cities even though the photographic approach is the same.

For me the people are interesting in terms of their inhabitance of a place, or how they can be sort of models, architecturally, for size. What do I know about their lives – you know – I don’t really want to interfere and the thing is that street photography has been done already and done really well and I did it, at some point, but for me the idea of actually describing a city through its semiotics and turning the images into something that is multilayered and also abstract in terms of aesthetic approach, I think, adds something to an archive of the contemporary environment; I mean, if you Google any one of those cities, Google Athens for instance, you’ll get a few street vendors or some well-known statues, but you don’t really get a sense of the city.

Athens Diary By  Peter Bialobrzeski. The Velvet Cell, 2014.

CJJ: Do you feel that this is a way of showing the city as more of an organism or character in-of-itself?

PB: Yeah, and in a way, the images are a kind of visual research by which I can make sense of the place. At the moment I am photographing Kochi – that’s a city with a community that’s pretty dominantly Christian, but also there are strong Muslim and Hindu factions as well as Jains and a few Jewish communities. When you walk the street you see the difference; in the Muslim areas there are goats, in the Hindu areas the odd cow… it’s very very interesting I think.

CJJ:  Then by showing the people in the way that you do, you show how they interact with that organism, the organism of a city?

PB: You find always in all the books images of people. They form small groups or they go into shops or stand across the street and wait for something, [speaking of the City Diary series photographs here] so in a way there is always a relationship; in the Athens Diary there are more people in the pictures, it’s just that they are very small.

Case Study Homes By  Peter Bialobrzeski. Hatje Cantz, 2009.

CJJ: You mentioned Beirut, a title we haven’t see yet, are there any other cities besides this that you are considering for a City Diary?

PB:  I’ve already done Taipei, which is printed and will come out in September. Then Beirut which will come out spring next year and then I have already photographed Mumbai, Osaka, Bangkok, Yangon and, of course, I’m doing Kochi and also the city opposite Kochi which is called Ernakulam -- Ernakulam is one of those third-tier Indian cities which is, also, kind of emerging in a quite interesting way – I’m not sure if I’d turn that into one book or into two; I’m just figuring it out at the moment…

[interjecting] CJJ:  Wow, so it’s going to be a prolific series…

PB: Well, yeah – so next year I have a residency in China – so I’m going to be doing a book there. I also have something in the works for Singapore, a visit there later in the year.

Nail Houses or the Destruction Of Lower Shanghai By  Peter Bialobrzeski. Hatje Cantz, 2014.

CJJ: How did you come into the venture of making books with The Velvet Cell?

PB: That was, really, total chance. I had gotten an email from Éanna (Éanna de Fréine) saying that he liked my work and wondered if would consider a project with him in the future; I was just in the process of producing my last book with Hatje Cantz and I remembered that I had done a series of Cairo photographs while I was with some students there [Cairo] and I had already made a little 8″ x 10″ book dummy so I sent him the pdf and asked him if it was anything like what he had in mind. He liked the work so we agreed that I could make the books with a colleague who I teach with, who does the book design – I do the sequencing and select the paper. So, in a way, that whole series evolved from Éanna’s little email. Then I went to Taipei to meet him and to print the book and we really hit it off. We are very good friends now and we enjoy our time together.

For my visit to Taipei I had brought along another dummy book I made, Beirut and we also agreed to do that as a City Diary, which, later, we swapped for Athens because of the crisis and everything – so Beirut Diary will be at the printer’s later this fall.

It started like this, you know -- it was pretty easy. [laughs]

Wolfsburg Diary By  Peter Bialobrzeski. The Velvet Cell, 2016.

CJJ: You say, “pretty easy” – is that in contrast to previous publishing experiences?

PB: No, I became pretty good friends with Mark at Hatje Cantz too, he was the publishing director – and the time when I made books with Hatje Cantz was quite interesting because they were part of a larger media group – so they made money with printing and with distribution, but the publisher [Hatje Cantz] being a part of that media group was more like the small hostile on the edge of the city, you know – they could kind of basically do whatever they wanted so I didn’t really have to turn a big profit – I just had to stay afloat. They had a really good name [in the industry], so they could subsidize museum catalogs and also publish projects that they liked.

During that time it was very easy to work with them because when they liked a book project they did it. It was really like publishing in the old days – I didn’t have to buy copies or do my own promotions.

Cairo Diary By  Peter Bialobrzeski. The Velvet Cell, 2014.

Final question, and maybe it’ll have a long answer -- I’m not sure.  I’m curious what photobooks you’ve liked – either for their design or their layout or some other quality of them, or a photographer who you’ve more consistently liked the works of.

PB:  I mean for, you know, the point is liking the work – so The Uncommon Places of Stephen Shore, as well as the work of Joel Sternfeld, were a really big influence for me, but also some early pictures of Andres Gursky. Eye openers for me were Gilles Peress’ Telex Iran and Under A Grudging Sun by Alex Webb, which seems a bit odd when you look at my work now, but I come from a photojournalist background. Maybe Under A Grudging Sun is one of the more interesting books for its time because it has this feeling of violence building up to the elections of Haiti – that’s reflected in its sequencing, when you really understand it and it's not overproduced like these things now where you have all these little odd bits and pieces, things to fold out. I find those to have, you know, a bit too much topping. I mean when you have something like Redheaded Peckerwood and then everybody does it, I start getting a bit bored.

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View more publications from Peter Bialobrzeski 

photo-eye Gallery Interview: Steve Fitch on American Motel Signs Steve Fitch speaks to photo-eye Gallery about his inspirations and intentions for American Motel Signs series. photo-eye welcomes Fitch to our Bookstore Project Space Saturday December 10th, from 3–5pm for an Exhibition Opening & Book Signing for American Motel Signs.

In American Motel Signs Steve Fitch crisscrossed the United States documenting the colorful advertisements inviting weary travelers to park their car and pack it in for the night. Tinged with nostalgia, these delightfully garish motel signs lovingly recall a mid 20th Century road culture speaking to a sense of independence and freedom central to the contemporary American identity.

A trained anthropologist, Fitch’s approach to American Motel Signs is almost scientific. Images of a single subject are crafted with and observational distance and a democratic square frame inviting viewers to compare regional differences in detail, design, and landscape under the umbrella of a single society seemingly focused on fun, travel, and leisure.  For Fitch, much of his photographic work was inspired by childhood family road trips from Northern California to South Dakota and continues to focus on what the artist has termed the ‘vernacular of the journey’. photo-eye Gallery Associate Lucas Shaffer spoke with Fitch about the practice and process behind American Motel Signs.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado, December, 1981 – © Steve Fitch, Archival Pigment Print, 12 x 12", $450

Lucas Shaffer:     How did American Motel Signs get started?

Steve Fitch:     Photographing motel signs, in color, grew out of an earlier project in black and white where I made photographs along America's two-lane highways.  Some of these photographs were of neon motel signs at night and were published in my book, Diesels and Dinosaurs: Photographs from the American Highway in 1976.

(Read Anne Kelly's 2012 interview with Fitch about his inspirations, and thoughts on highway culture)

LS:     What draws you to photograph the motel signs; why are they compelling?

SF:     I guess I am attracted to photographing motel signs because they are like trail markers for my highway explorations.  The signs I photographed are all one-of-a-kind signs/sculptures that were designed and fabricated by local sign shops that employed skilled craftsmen such as metal workers, neon benders and painters.  They were signs found mostly along our country's two-lane highways before the onslaught of motel franchises with their exact same sign at dozens or hundreds of locations throughout the country.  All Motel 6 signs, for example, are identical whereas the signs that I discover and like to photograph are each unique--there is only one.  In some ways, they are like folk art to me.
There is also another aspect to my interest in motel signs where it doesn't particularly matter that they are motel signs.  What does matter is the idea of theme and variation, how a collection can be interesting because of the variety of specimens.  A collection of butterflies illustrates this idea, for example, and photography is such a great medium for "collecting and comparing" which is what my motel sign project is ultimately all about. I can make photographs of signs that exist in different locations and display them together in a manner that allows the viewer to make his or her own comparisons.  The contemporary word for this is "typology", I believe.

Cherokee, North Carolina; August, 1982 –  © Steve Fitch, Archival Pigment Print, 12x12", $450

LS:    How has your view of the project changed or evolved through the decades?

SF:     The first square shaped, color image of a motel sign that I made was in 1979.  From the beginning, I intuitively sensed that I wanted the individual sign to reside in a pictorial space that included some of the space around the sign--I didn't want to just come in tight on the sign.  My compositions are not complicated a la Lee Friedlander, for example, but I do pay attention to the structure of the images and how to organize what is surrounds the sign.  I am still making photographs of motel signs when I find an interesting one (which is rarer and rarer).  In fact, last week on a trip to Texas I photographed a sign in Vaughn, New Mexico--a town where I have made many photographs over the years.  I don't think that my view of the project has changed much other than the fact that they are now being published.

Christmas, Michigan; May, 1989 – © Steve Fitch, Archival Pigment Print, 12x12", $450

LS:     Do you have a favorite sign, or a particularly memorable experience while photographing a motel sign?

SF:     I have many "favorite" signs but if I had to pick one that is in the book and show, it might be the Christmas Motel.  I think it is a wonderfully crazy sign with the metal box (or "can") being "wrapped" in neon like a Christmas package.  Wow!  No corporate franchise would ever come up with a sign like that!

LS:     What is your process like; how do you find the motels? Do you follow a map or do you come across them serendipitously?

SF:     The way I discover signs to photograph is simply through traveling on our highways.  I don't really employ any methodology other than to make a point of exploring all the highways that might be coming in or out of a given town.  From a map, I can often get a sense of what roads might have motels that would be of interest to me: they tend to be U.S. highways that cover great distances such as U.S. 6 or 2 or 40 or 61 or, of course, 66.  These were/are roads that carried many people over many miles, some of which have been mythologized such as Route 66.  Today, the interstates carry so much of our long distance traffic and, as we know, they are dominated by the franchise chains and a suffocating sameness.

LS:     How does this work fit alongside your other series, like Western Landscapes, the Drive-In Movie Theaters, and Gone?

SF:     I think these motel sign pictures are related to the Western Landscape photographs of neon-lit motels and drive-in theater screens.  The latter were made with color film and an 8" x 10" view camera whereas the square motel sign photographs were taken with a Hasselblad camera using 120mm film – by the way, I bought my Hasselblad, used, in 1970 and have made all the motel sign photographs with it.

American Motel Signs: 1980–2008, Steve Fitch, Published by The Velvet Cell, London

LS:     How did the book project come about? What was the process like?

SF:     The Velvet Cell's publisher, a man named Eanna de Freine, contacted me about a year and a half ago asking if I would like to do a book of my motel sign pictures.  I said, "Sure" and we worked on it for about a year over the internet.  I have never met Eanna.  I sent him about 60 image files and he made the selection of photographs although I did name a few that I definitely wanted to use.  There are 32 photographs in the book.  Eanna is, I believe, Irish and went to art school in London and now lives in Japan.  The book was printed in Taiwan.  He did the design and was at the press when it was printed.  I think his design is simple but beautiful and the book is very well printed, probably partly because of his presence at the press.  I am amazed that everything went smoothly and turned out as well as it did without either of us having ever met or been in the same space together!

LS:     What’s next for you?

SF:     What is next for me?  I will continue to travel our highways and make pictures of motel signs.  I am also working on a project making long, horizontal photographs of various vernacular subjects--including "homegrown" murals--that are compiled from a number of individual, digital frames.  And I am beginning to make photographs using a drone to create "birds eye" views of various subjects, something my son, Luke is helping me with.

Steve Fitch in his Studio
Steve Fitch is an American photographer born in 1949. He earned an MFA from the University New Mexico in 1978, and has taught photography at UC Berkeley, the University of Colorado in Boulder, Princeton University, and since 1990, at the College of Santa Fe. Fitch's photographs are included in the permanent collections of such museums as the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and The Chicago Art Institute.

Fitch will be present to sign copies of his latest monograph American Motel Signs 1980–2008 at our Bookstore Project Space for an Exhibition Opening and Book Signing from 3 – 5pm on Saturday, December 10th. In celebration, a selection of works from the American Motel Signs series will be installed in the Project space through February 18th, 2017.

For more information and to purchase prints please contact gallery staff at 505.988.5152 x 202.

Books 2016 Best Books We are delighted to present photo-eye’s Best Books of 2016. As in the last ten years, photo-eye asked photobook lovers from across the world to share their favorite books of the year.

We are delighted to present photo-eye’s Best Books of 2016. As in the last ten years, photo-eye asked photobook lovers from across the world to share their favorite books of the year. Our contributors for 2016 are:
Alec Soth
Ania Nałęcka-Milach
Anne Wilkes Tucker
Antone Dolezal
Carolyn Drake
Christian Michael Filardo
Christopher J Johnson
Cristina de Middel
Daniel Boetker-Smith
David Chickey
Eamonn Doyle

Éanna de Fréine
Forrest Soper
Fred Ritchin
Jeffrey Ladd
John Gossage
Larissa Leclair
Martin Parr
Melanie McWhorter
Moises Saman
Sara Terry
Sarah Bradley
Tony Cederteg
Yumi Goto

For the 2016 Best Books list, photo-eye’s staff wanted to try something new. It might be better to say, something different, as it is still a list of books that experts in the field of photography and photobooks admired, deemed significant, or otherwise loved since the publication of our 2015 Best Books last December.

In previous years, we asked our contributors to select ten books each. This year we asked for three. In doing so, we wanted our experts to spend more time writing about why they had selected each title. What we received was a wonderful assortment of books along with some moving and informative writing.

We hope that every photobook lover enjoys our Best Books 2016 selections and that you will find some of your favorite titles from the past year, along with exciting new discoveries.