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Interrogations by Donald Weber
We begin this week with two titles from Melanie McWhorter's Best Books list for 2011. Her blog post about the books earlier this year focused on the books as important examples of violence as depicted in photography. "Two recent books that exemplify this point are Javier Arcenillas’ Sicarios: Latin American Assassins and Donald Weber’s Interrogations. Both are lushly printed, thoughtfully edited, and provide visual and textual insight to the photographer’s motivation and intent."

"Donald Weber’s Interrogations is a masterpiece of design by Amsterdam’s Heijdens Karwei and printed by Wachter GMBH & Co in Bönnigheim, Germany. The book is stitched with one thread in the center and wrapped in a textured printed paper that mimics one of the wallpapers of the interrogation rooms. The uncut text block allows a play on design; the 'creep' extends way beyond the cover. This element is cleverly designed, but feels as though it may also be commentary on the character of those unseen in the second section. It is finished with a cardboard slipcase. It is presented in three chapters: Prologue, which shows some images of daily life; interrogations, portraits of confused, distressed and scared citizens being questioned by the authorities; and finishes with Epilogue by Larry Frolick and Weber, a text which further illustrates Frolick and Weber's love for the Russian citizens and their role in this project: 'letting the denied tell their stories through you.' Interrogations illustrates Weber's love for his temporary home of the ex-Soviet Union and the bureaucracies and inequalities that still exist and often impede 'progress.'" From Melanie McWhorter's blog post on Sicarios and Interrogations

Sicarios by Javier Arcenillas
"In Sicarios, the conditions of the lives of assassins and those living in Guatemala make up more of the story than just the killings. Many images are violent and disturbing, partially because often the victims have committed a minor injustice, if any at all, and the assassins are often young men who see no future for themselves, men for whom killing becomes a job motivated by simply a need to make a living, and often a meager one at that. Sicarios is a vehicle for Javier Arcenillas, with the help of his friends at El Periodico de Guatemala, to tell a very real story. Included is an introduction by the director of El Periodico, Juan Luis Font, and an interview with Arcenillas, and complete plate listing with detailed captions. Each plate is equally as engaging as the next showing fleeting moments of movement in intense situations or scenes in crisp sharp fine details. The printing, at Ofset Yapimevi in Istanbul, resulting in crisp whites and lush blacks, are quite seductive, leading me to want to look and discover what is in each frame." From Melanie McWhorter's blog post on Sicarios and Interrogations

purchase/view images from Sicarios

More Cooning with Cooners from Archive of Modern Conflict
More Cooning with Cooners is right up there with my favorites from the Archive of Modern Conflict. Exceptionally well designed from the black soft-edged stripe along the covers to the red end pages with beautiful pen and ink drawings, to the opening essay and reproduction of the cover of the 1924 book Cooning with Cooners. It is a deceptively complicated little book, strangely haunting and unresolved.

"As a British citizen, I have to confess I didn't know much about 'coon hunting before I opened this book. Now having closed it, I'm not sure how much better informed I am. This is simultaneously the most confusing and the most beguiling thing about this book. It is not an obscure, difficult or even unfocussed publication – More Cooning With Cooners is as much about raccoons, and the hunting thereof, as a sixty-page photobook can be. Even the cover is designed to resemble a raccoon pelt, with the bloody red endpapers inside evoking the inevitable conclusion of the chase. It's just that, alongside this thematic coherence, this blatancy about its theme, there is an ambiguity about the photographs within, and the book project itself, that far exceeds one's initial expectations." From Faye Robson's review of More Cooning with Cooners

Daniel Meadows: Edited Photographs from the 70s and 80s is a delightful book of portrait work that likely slipped under most people's radar. Meadows' straightforward and earnest approach to his subjects yielded impressive results, and the book is a wonderful snap shot of Great Brittan during these decades -- full of tender awkwardness, funny clothes and sweet moments, and lots of smiles.

"In 1973, Daniel Meadows got a UK Arts Council grant of £750. He bought a double-decker bus, converted the top deck into a bedroom, fitted a toilet, kitchen and darkroom and converted the bottom deck into an exhibition space. With all his equipment in place, Meadows hit the road. His goal; to provide a photographic survey of the people of England.

"Portraits from the series Photographic Omnibus form the heart of Daniel Meadows: Edited Photographs from the 70s and 80s. The directness, open curiosity and charismatic anonymity of the pictures make them a UK antithesis to Richard Avedon's star subjects of the American West." From Colin Pantall's review of Daniel Meadows: Edited Photographs from the 70s and 80s

purchase/view images from Daniel Meadows: Edited Photographs from the 70s and 80s