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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 Lost Territories Wordbook Designed by Ania Nałęcka-Milach as Book of the Week.
Lost Territories Wordbook.  
Designed by Ania Ania Nałęcka-Milach. 
Sputnik Photos, 2016.
Christopher J Johnson selects Lost Territories Wordbook Designed by Ania Nałęcka-Milach from Sputnik Photos as Book of the Week.

"Sputnik Photos has shown over and over again their dedication to a sense of place, to the onus, “what does it mean to belong to or to be from a place.” Specifically Russia and the Former Russian states or affected regions of what had been the USSR.

Wordbook presents about one hundred very brief narratives on subjects that relate to the former USSR; the subjects are disparate, but hinge on a sort of Joe Brainardesque, “I remember…” set-up in that the idea is how things have changed, what was and doesn’t exist anymore or still exists, but as a more shadowy presence than its former life of importance in the USSR. The topics range from Russian manufactured cigarettes, the Holodomor, apartment balconies and Eastern European camera models to Leninism and Soviet Bookshops.

The narratives are provided by twenty-one different authors writing in Russian, Ukrainian and Polish (all translated into English) who had lived, often as young people or children, during the collapse of the Soviet Union and are, so it seems, now fully mature and advanced in their writing careers. A total of twenty pictures accompany the texts from Sputnik’s official collective of: Andrej Balco, Jan Brykczynski, Andrei Liankevich, Michal Luczak, Rafal Milach, Adam Panczuk and Agnieszka Rayss (all photographers familiar to the readers of photo-eye’s blog).

The result of the presentation style is something like reading Svetlana Alexievich’s books (photobook bibliophiles will recognize her as the author of the text featured in 7 Rooms), there are a variety of voices and concerns, but all are centered on a single theme and all are also intimate explorations of their subject.

Wordbook is a wonderful companion to the work that the collective has put out so far. In fact, I might go as far as to say that it is the most essential volume as it takes as its subject the voices of those that these photographers have captured again and again in their images. — Christopher J Johnson

Purchase Book

Lost Territories WordbookDesigned by Ania Ania Nałęcka-Milach. Sputnik Photos, 2016.
Lost Territories WordbookDesigned by Ania Ania Nałęcka-Milach. Sputnik Photos, 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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