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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 Comme Un Murmure/ Like a Whisper by Normand Rajotte as Book of the Week.

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Christopher J Johnson Christopher J Johnson selects Comme Un Murmure/ Like a Whisper by Normand Rajotte as Book of the Week.
Comme un murmure / Like A Whisper.
 By Normand Rajotte. Kehrer Verlag, 2016.
Christopher J Johnson selects Comme Un Murmure/ Like a Whisper by Normand Rajotte from Kehrer Verlag as Book of the Week.

"There are so many books about place, I don’t mean place in the larger sense, such as New York City, Wolfsburg, Katmandu, but rather place on an even smaller scale; think Ed Ruscha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip or, more recently, Dana Lixenberg’s Imperial Courts or the less well-known The Name of Us by Nils Bergendal – these are more intimate explorations of streets, housing complexes and, in the case of the latter, a museum. Very few books in recent memory take up the subject of just a few square kilometers (or, if you prefer, miles), but Normad Rajotte’s Comme un murmure is just that.

The book explores a small area of land to be found ‘at the foot of Mont Mégantic, near La Patrie, a village in south-eastern Québec, Canada.’ What results is an intimate document that, visually, is something like a mediation on nature. Rajotte’s gaze is almost always on the ground, which is appropriate, as it is the life he keeps just missing that intrigues him; this ‘life’ I speak of is found in the tracks of animals, their corpses (in one haunting, though not unattractive image) and in the waterways that sustain them. Tadpoles and a frog make an appearance, tracks lay in the mud and are notably fresh.

At first I wasn’t sure about these images of the ground; one might think of their younger, more jaded days, which are usually heavy with thought and so, with walking about, face down, constantly viewing the ground; but upon continuous re-engagement I have discovered that this view is used to provide a greater understanding of place; Rajotte finds the evidence of abundance that he seems to be looking for with this downward gaze and the result is an intimacy that, I think, far surpasses most books about place.

Comme un murmure is an intimate work which fearlessly, almost adroitly flies in the face of what’s popular. This is not an urban engagement, there is no drinking or urban or rural decay, the photographs aren’t black-and-white and have nothing to do with topographies: no cars under covers, no humans in their environments; rather it is a view of something more intimate than that even, a view of our place within nature and the depth to which we can expect to know nature as environment.

If you are tired of seeing cities, or sick of nature photography meaning landscapes and fisherman, than Comme un mumure will be a welcome edition to your photobook shelf." — Christopher J Johnson

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Comme un murmure / Like A Whisper.. By Normand Rajotte. Kehrer Verlag, 2016.
Comme un murmure / Like A Whisper.. By Normand Rajotte. Kehrer Verlag, 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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