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2017 Best Books: Daniel Boetker-Smith


Books Daniel Boetker-Smith: 2017 Best Books Daniel Boetker-Smith Selects Museum Bhavan, Why Dresden? Photographs 1984/85 and 2015, and White Night as the Best Books of 2017
Daniel Boetker-Smith
Daniel Boetker-Smith is an educator, writer, curator, publisher, and photographer. Daniel is the Academic Director at Photography Studies College (Melbourne). He is a contributor to British Journal of Photography, Voices of Photography, Vault, Paper Journal, Source, and other Australian and international publications. He is also the Founder of the Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive, the largest collection of self-published and contemporary photobooks from the Asia-Pacific region in the world. Daniel was previously the Managing Editor of Australia’s oldest photography magazine Photofile.



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Museum Bhavan By Dayanita SinghSteidl, 2017.
 
Museum Bhavan
Photographs by Dayanita Singh

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dayanita Singh a while back, and everything I presumed to be true about her was. Singh is in equal parts generous, smart, honest and rigorous in all she does. There isn’t enough space here to fully delve into the importance of this book; of course, it has a precursor in the equally brilliant Sent A Letter, and of course calling it a ‘book’ is decidedly unsatisfactory for what this ‘thing’ is. Museum Bhavan is a museum, a challenge, an experiment, an archive, a collaboration, and a political statement. Singh’s actual images are rarely spoken about, but they absolutely shine in this context; her empathy and intelligence are at the core of her photographs. She is not only a master book/object maker she is also a master image-maker, and in the end, it’s always the images that make the book. There are images here that can bring you to tears. The brilliance of Gerhard Steidl’s attention to detail in the printing and production, combined with Singh’s skill and willingness to experiment mean Museum Bhavan is a rare accomplishment.

Read the full review on photo-eye's blog

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Museum Bhavan By Dayanita SinghSteidl, 2017.

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Why Dresden? Photographs 1984/85 and 2015 
By Seiichi Furuya.Spector Books, 2017.
 
Why Dresden?
Photographs 1984/85 and 2015

Photographs by Seiichi Furuya

I’ve been coming back to this book again and again during 2017, and it has had a profound effect on me. I guess I responded to it for a number of reasons — the images form a diaristic and personal encounter with Furuya, his wife, and their young son; the book also documents an important historical time and place (Germany in the 1980s), and finally Why Dresden tells the heartbreaking story of a man processing the suicide of his young wife (even after 20 years).

In the mid-80s Furuya and his family had travelled to Dresden for work, and while there he photographed his wife Christine Gössler and son Komyo spending their days in a new city. Later that year (1985) Gössler jumped to her death from the 9th floor of their apartment building in East Berlin. While her suicide isn't mentioned in the book, the future resonates through these images. In 2015 Furuya returned to Dresden to make more work, and some of these images are also included. This is a book about how painful, banal, frustrating, and powerful life (and photography) can be. An incredibly understated and important book — Why Dresden should have won a few awards this year.

Purchase Book Here

Why Dresden? Photographs 1984/85 and 2015 By Seiichi Furuya.Spector Books, 2017.

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White Night By Feng Li.
Jiazazhi Press, 2017.
 
White Night
Photographs by Feng Li
 
Feng Li creates a strange and unique world that stops just short of an apocalyptic view of China; he crafts a picture of his local Chengdu that waivers between the ghost-like and the grotesque. It is clear that Li fits into a long lineage of photographers shooting at night, with flash, highlighting the obscure and bizarre, but what marks him out as unique is his contemporary focus on surfaces and bodies, he eschews narratives or stories in favour of the fleeting. His ability to oscillate between the garish and the gentle is wonderful, and his use of sequencing and pairings in the books is both hilarious and very smart. Another great title from Jiazazhi Press.

Purchase Book Here

White Night By Feng LiJiazazhi Press, 2017.

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