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2017 Best Books: Fred Cray


Books Fred Cray: 2017 Best Books Fred Cray Selects Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation, Women with Cameras (Anonymous), and Money Must Be Made as the Best Books of 2017
Fred Cray
Fred Cray lives in Brooklyn, NY. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and awards from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and Peter S. Reed Foundation. His works are in various public and private collections; he has published a number of books.








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Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation 
By Mathieu Asselin. Kettler Verlag, 2017.
 
Monsanto:
A Photographic Investigation

Photographs by Mathieu Asselin

This is a book we need in our current, tenuous time. Monsanto pulls together a historically based look at the corporation that produced DDT, PCBs, Agent Orange, and more recently GMOs; this company continually and knowingly disregarded its own research and falsified documents about the hazards of these chemicals and products, under the guidelines of “we can’t afford to lose one dollar of business.”

Mathieu Asselin deftly interweaves vintage (now verging on hilarious and completely misleading) advertisements, newspaper clippings, legal documents, and his own photographs into an indictment of a corporation run wild for economic greed, a company with a revolving door between itself and the US government with employees going back and forth between the two entities. Asselin creates a wonderful and clear balance of irony, outrage, compassion, and wrong; unfortunately, this book by itself can’t solve the problems it shows us.

In times where one outrage or one deplorable act replaces another, almost on a daily basis, it’s important that atrocities are compiled into something we won’t as easily lose sight of. We are reminded that there’s a right and a wrong that needs to be addressed for the sake of us all.

Selected as a photo-eye Book of the Week

Purchase Book Here

Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation By Mathieu Asselin. Kettler Verlag, 2017.

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Women with Cameras (Anonymous) 
By Anne Collier. Karma, 2017.
 
Women with Cameras (Anonymous)
Photographs by Anne Collier

With a simple concept (women with cameras) Anne Collier has orchestrated complicated layers of meaning, some a little haunting, some pleasant, similar to a childhood flashback or a spin through a family album.

She has collected discarded images from multiple sources (flea markets, thrift stores, and online depositories) of women with cameras. We don’t know who got rid of the photos; the photographers, the woman photographed, an estate? And why — not flattering, no longer wanted, a broken relationship or just plain lost? And why would someone unrelated want these photographs? There’s a back and forth issue of who is photographing whom. Sometimes it’s an intimate party with people photographing each other, sometimes a seductive, almost soft porn image taken on the sly. Is it a male or a female gaze? Sometimes it seems easy to guess, sometimes not. In a few, there’s a creepy or even innocent man in the background. Sometimes the camera blocks the identity of the subject, other times it becomes a phallic object.

We’re now firmly in the digital selfie era, where it’s easy to control one’s image. These images seem opposite and so rich, so uncalculated. There is the patina of age from faded prints and changing styles. And simply time is distance. There’s the hand up to block the photograph or the flipping of a finger or other obfuscations from the situation, a tree or wisp of smoke, meant both for us (by Anne) and the photographer (by the subject).

Purchase Book Here

Women with Cameras (Anonymous) By Anne Collier. Karma, 2017.

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Money Must Be Made By Lorenzo Vitturi.
Self Publish, Be Happy, 2017.
 
Money Must Be Made
Photographs by Lorenzo Vitturi
 
Lorenzo Vitturi follows his stunning Dalston Anatomy with another bold and vibrant book of photographs taken this time in the Balogun Market in Lagos, Nigeria. The photographs are often later collaged and re-photographed back in his studio to gorgeous sculptural effect, mimicking some of the stalls and displays of their wares in the market. In Money Must Be Made we find a kind of anti-gentrification. The chaotic market has sprawled and choked off access to the neighboring, abandoned Financial Trust tower built in better times; the multinational corporations once inside have now all fled, leaving an empty monument. Vitturi depicts the corporate tower with monochromatic images of dusty interior offices, upturned furniture, and left behind computers. These monochromatic photographs of corporate failure are sandwiched between the saturated images and pages of the bustling market and its wares. The photographer shows mostly local fabrics, foods, and imported Chinese plastic products from the market and very few faces. In the ever-changing world of global commerce, Balogun prayer mats are now made of woven Chinese plastic.

In the glossary at the back of the book, we learn that compromise may be the main accomplishment of trade; the margins of profit are so slim for some sellers that to not sell their goods is sometimes better than to sell them. Vitturi has made the book covers from market scraps of fabrics and vinyl, contributing to the feeling that the book could be something found in the market, something tangible and wonderful to hold.

Purchase Book Here

Money Must Be Made By Lorenzo Vitturi. Self Publish, Be Happy, 2017.

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