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photo-eye Book Reviews: The State of Ata

The State of Ata,By Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari. 
Published by Eighteen Publications, 2010.

The State of Ata
Reviewed by Sebastian Arthur Hau
The State of Ata
By Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari.  Eighteen Publications, 2010. 272 pp., 393 color and 9
black & white illustrations, 8x9-1/4".

Mike Mandel has been working with different strategies in image taking and the use of photography (scientific, performance, self-portrait and archival) since the '70s. And this book, published with his wife Chantal Zakari, into which more than 10 years of work have flown, combines these strands and weaves in a distinct new one: the political. The State of Ata aims at being several books at once, diary, schoolbook, photobook and an album of portraits. It achieves for one circumventing today's tiresome dichotomy of photographer's photographer versus artist using photography.

The State of Ata, by Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari. Published by Eighteen Publications, 2010.

The State of Ata, by Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari. Published by Eighteen Publications, 2010.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of modern and secular Turkey, a praised military leader and politician, is still admired by today's Turkish population, and pictures, portraits and statues are to be found everywhere. Mandel & Zakari, on several trips through Turkey, interview the people, intervene with impromptu demonstrations or photo booths on the streets, resulting in a rich portrait of today's Turkey. With officials, street vendors, kids or just passersby grouped around the more or less prominent Ata-picture, we get a lot of visual information about this large country and given the diversified lay-out, I often found myself reorienting to "get the picture." The pictures may be printed at full-bleed at times, sometimes accompany a text, open up David-Hockney-like as a map, or have a journalistic lay-out: it's good to see this questioning by the photographers, the way the private journey and public search work together and give form to something that's full of field notes, anecdotes and observations.—Sebastian Arthur Hau

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Sebastian Arthur Hau was born in 1976 and has been working for the bookshop in Cologne for ten years. He writes photobook reviews for the Dutch FOAM magazine and works as an assistant for photographers. In autumn 2010 he will open a museum bookstore in Paris for LE BAL, an exhibition place for the documentary image run by Diane Dufour and Fannie Escoulen.