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Book Review: Disquiet

Disquiet. Photographs by Amani Willet.
Published by Damiani Factory, 2013.
Reviewed by Tom Leininger

Photographs by Amani Willett.
Damiani Factory, 2013. Hardbound. 128 pp., illustrated throughout, 6-1/2x9-1/2".

Amani Willett's new book Disquiet frames the changing life of the photographer around the recent turmoil of the Occupy Wall Street movement, seeing a mirror-like metaphor in American society. This book offers a deep dive into those dark times of life when one wonders if everything is crumbling. Action is taking place outside of these photographs. The pictures are fascinating hints at the uneven moments of life.

The book chronicles the recent times of a first time father and how this monumental change throws the world out of focus. "To take a photograph is to assert control," Marvin Heifernan writes in his eloquent essay at the end of the book. Control in life remains elusive; the act of picture making allows for an illusion of it. Control is off in the distance and outside the frame.

Disquiet, by Amani Willett. Published by Damiani Factory, 2013.
Disquiet, by Amani Willett. Published by Damiani Factory, 2013.

Shadows override the images that travel from interiors to meditative empty landscapes. Willett uses an idea of home in this book; not the idealized nostalgic notion, but the present tense loaded question of what home is. Factor in the idea of family, and it becomes a challenge to keep sentimentality at bay. Fortunately, sentimentality does not live in the shadows. The disquiet of life lurks there and in the nighttime. This is a relatable story told in dark fragments.

Disquiet, by Amani Willett. Published by Damiani Factory, 2013.
Disquiet, by Amani Willett. Published by Damiani Factory, 2013.

The physical book is sized for an intimate reading experience and the photographs are finely reproduced on heavy paper, which lends a feeling of gravitas to the story. Image titles are included at the end to help with the flow of the story and give added generational information. Without the titles a narrative emerges, but the context of who or where brings clarity. Willett’s warm color palette marks the start of day or the last embers of hope, which eventually fade into the darkness of insomnia or the times at night when the disquiet is the loudest. When life is pervaded by disquiet the only respite comes in snatches, in places where silence is offered up in buckets.—TOM LEININGER

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TOM LEININGER is a photographer and educator based in North Texas. More of his work can be found on his website.