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photo-eye Book Reviews: BELLYBANDBOOKS Little Journey Series 1-4

Bellybandbooks Little Journey Series 1-4
5.989 Feet, Prima Ronda, A Part & Afterlife
Reviewed by Nicholas Chiarella
Nanni Schiffl-Deiler 5.989 Feet. Jan Roeder Prima Ronda. Andreas Frei A Part.
Antonin Kratochvil Afterlife.
Photographs by Nanni Schiffl-Deiler, Jan Roeder, Andreas Frei, Antonin Kratochvil.
Bellybandbooks, 2008-2010. Softcover. 16 pp., 8 illustrations, 6x8-1/4".

5.989 Feet, by Nanni Schiffl-Deiler. Prima Ronda, by Jan Roeder. 
A Part, by Andreas Frei. Afterlife, by Antonin Kratochvil.
Published by Bellybandbooks, 2008-2010.
Munich's Bellybandbooks offers the Little Journey series as its first project. The goal of the series is humbly stated as being two or three books a year, each containing a series of photographs shot over a short span of time and having "an emotional effect." The first four little books of this series certainly meet this goal. Each slim volume consists of eight two-page spreads printed full-bleed and a self-portrait signed by the photographer. Little Journey proves the depth possible from a simple theme when it is well curated, and each book provides a unique and immersive emotional moment. The simple heavy card-stock covers and slightly lustery surface of the printed pages are equally enjoyable frameworks, and the precise uniformity of presentation assures the collectible feel of the series.

5.989 Feet, by Nanni Schiffl-Deiler. Published by Bellybandbooks, 2008.
Nanni Schiffl-Deiler's series 5.989 Feet skims slowly over a short span of the Brooklyn Bridge. New York skylines are minimized, framed or obscured by the architecture of the bridge itself. Focus instead falls on the blurs of light from passing cars and the rain-slicked boards of the pedestrian portion of the bridge, from which the images are shot. Even the minimal range of this series stirs feelings of transit and motion.

Prima Ronda, by Jan Roeder. Published by Bellybandbooks, 2009.
Jan Roeder's Prima Ronda catalogues the instants that a group of racers on horseback flash past a packed crowd. They share a sense of excitement and immediacy with Lartigue's images of action and competition. The racers are neither starting nor finishing but in the midst of the race, and therein lies the excitement.

A Part, by Andreas Frei. Published by Bellybandbooks, 2009.
Andreas Frei's A Part seems more similar to Schiffl-Deiler's images, presenting a silvery walk through still woods that could encompass either seconds or hours.

Afterlife, by Antonin Kratochivil. Published by Bellybandbooks, 2010.
Antonin Kratochvil's Afterlife is the only series of color images in the set thus far. Obscure in focus and detail, the muted palette of these images tells the story of a woman shortly to be exiled from her home in Chernobyl. The style of these images is the most painterly of the series, and represents an expanse in the range and possibilities that the series may take in the future.

As a set, these books look and feel as if they are made for photo-bibliophiles, and the straightforward, simple approach to theme of each photographer creates excellent unity and variation in the collection. Another three volumes are already planned in the series, with installments by Christopher Anderson, Krass Clement, and Kathryn Cook.—Nicholas Chiarella

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Nicholas Chiarella is the imaging specialist at the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His poems and photographs have appeared in Santa Fe Trend, BathHouse, Slideluck Potshow Santa Fe, and other venues. He is a member of Meow Wolf artist collective, contributing technical and design skills to performance and art installations. Chiarella graduated from the St. John's College GI program in 2007. He can be reached at