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Photolucida’s Critical Mass Books

photo-eye just received our first review copies of Photolucida’s recently published books from the 2009 Critical Mass book awards and as always we are very impressed. I assume it is no surprise that we enjoy what Photolucida is all about, supplying a vast amount of opportunities for emerging or mid-career artists. This year’s publications offer two thoughtful and strong bodies of work, Birthe Piontek’s The Idea of North and Alejandro Cartagena’s Suburbia Mexicana.

from the book The Idea of North
Birthe Piontek spent a ten-week artists’ residency at the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture in Dawson City, located in the Yukon Territory. A town known for its rough exterior, Dawson City attracts an alternative way of living and as a former Gold mining town holds its fair share of dark secrets. Piontek’s photographs engage an underlying dark tone throughout this series. Unique portraits, dark interiors and landscapes weave together to capture an essence of a place, an essence that many may not want to find themselves living near, but to those who do, Dawson City is a haven of sorts. While this uneasy tension is a portrait of a particular place, it also gives the sense that the photographer is creating a world that lays within the deep dark soul of many of us, adding a layer of depth to the photographer’s intent. The photographs in this book are stunning and it is a body of work I have long admired.

from the book The Idea of North

from the book Suburbia Mexicana
Alejandro Cartagena’s Suburbia Mexicana was co-published by Photolucida and Daylight Community Arts Foundation. This monograph is beautifully designed and slightly larger than previously published books from the Critical Mass competition. The photographer’s focus is on the suburban neighborhoods of Monterrey, Mexico, a city that has grown drastically in the last 60 years due to many American and Canadian companies setting up shop for profitable industry. The result has led to haphazard building and little planning regarding infrastructure, leading the photographer to focus on not only the homogenization of the suburbs, but also the environmental impact the rapid building of these small homes has had on the landscape. Portraits of families, children and lone individuals are also mixed into this series of images rounding out a very well-edited body of work that is both informing and visually captivating.

from the book Suburbia Mexicana

photo-eye Magazine will be publishing full reviews of both of these new titles in the months ahead.

Photographer's Showcase artist Jeff Rich was awarded the 2010 Photolucida book award. You can view his portfolio here.

Purchase The Idea of North.

Purchase Suburbia Mexicana.