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Book of the Week: A Pick by Christopher J Johnson


Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Christopher J Johnson Christopher J Johnson selects Tu Me Dis by Titus Simoens as Book of the Week.
Tu Me Dis. By Titus Simoens. Art Paper Editions, 2016.
Christopher J Johnson selects Tu Me Dis by Titus Simoens from Art Paper Editions as Book of the Week.

"You tell me that you would like to capture the intimacy of people." reads the final line printed on the back of Tu Me Dis and that captures, quite well, the intention of this book.

Photographed presumably, within the same evening, Tu Me Dis is the exploration of the photographer with a single subject. The subject, a young woman — not given a name — appears to be engaged with the photographer in a conversation; a conversation with or without words, as the two share a space together.

The first images are of the young woman at a table, night falls as the images progress. The young woman is engaged with the stereotypical engagements of artists, she smokes cigarettes and blows the inhaled smoke out a window to her back. She drinks from a cup, presumably wine — as a wine bottle is also present on the table before her — but it may be coffee. There are two cups until, through the progression of images, there is suddenly only one.

As darkness falls a candle is lit and each cigarette, a light floating in the dark — the long cylinder of them illuminated by the light of the candle’s flame — seems to be more important, more intentional than those cigarettes smoked while the light of day still diffused their brilliance.

Then, in what we can only assume is deeper into the night, the scene shifts to an ocean or a lake or a sea; an enormous body of water by which the young woman stands and then, removing her clothing, descends into — while constantly looking back to see if her friend, the photographer, is still there with her in their extended moment.

The presentation from cover to end is a grid with 8 photographs on each page (including the book’s cover), which might seem like a strange design choice, until we come back to the statement, “You tell me that you would like to capture the intimacy of people.” Tu Me Dis is not a book about sexuality or femininity or any subject “like this,” as a friend of mine says. It is not erotic. It is about passing time with someone, about relating to others and about the time that we spend with those, near to us or not, and how authentic we can be in that space together. — Christopher J Johnson

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Tu Me Dis. By Titus Simoens. Art Paper Editions, 2016.
Tu Me Dis. By Titus Simoens. Art Paper Editions, 2016.


Christopher J Johnson
lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is a resident writer for the Meow Wolf art collective. His first book of poetry, &luckier, has been released by the University of Colorado. He is Manager of photo-eye’s Book Division.




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