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Best Books 2013: Doug Rickard

Best Books 2013 Best Books 2013 Larissa Leclair Best Books picks from Indie Photobook Library founder Larissa Leclair.

By Dash Snow

A combination of film stills and a careful arrangement from the masses of Snow's Polaroids form a revelatory look at a man, his merry pranksters and their surrounding magical madness. In a sort of tour de force of hedonism and youth's temporary blip, New York is put on display in all of its immediacy and the cutting edge of its filth and its glory. In a way that only Dash could do, we're left imagining what this life would have been like had we stepped into his shoes and lived it. Like a roaring flame that is extinguished, we're left with the memories of the crazy heat and bright light that has lead to the black, charred remains. 
By Emmet Gowin

This retrospective survey of Gowin demonstrates a power and beauty that is contained in photography in perhaps a pure sense. If not pure then perhaps the idea of a sort of pure tradition, if we can put forth that a tradition exists within photography. The photographs are exquisite in their disparate but connected treatment of the moving parts of life: the family, the land and love. Fiercely intimate and also large and at distance, one would be hard pressed to find a stronger example of these very basic human themes explored. A wonderful survey look at what makes us human and what photography may look like as a "tradition." In a time of rapid photographic evolution and changing of "tradition," this will be one to look back at to provide a reference of a time.
By Rinko Kawauchi

Rinko's consistently magical touch is employed on a set region on our planet. As only she can really do, what's extracted are the elements; the elemental nature of color, light, material, form and essence. She boils down the land and its people to a "periodic table of beauty." From her head comes forth a special blend of magic and we're always better for having been able to see inside of it. 
By Elmer Batters

From Taschen comes a look at a man consumed. Consumed by women but more than that... consumed by the particulars of "the woman," especially the legs and feet. Elmer Batters, a legendary fetish photographer, photographed women with sheer talent and monumental devotion. Obsession, compulsion and devotion are on display in this book. Lucky for us he followed the impulses instead of fighting them. A glimpse at thousands of women that served as the objects of Batters own devices. 
By Todd Hido
Nazraeli Press

In Excerpts from Silver Meadows, Hido's well-known obsessions are treated as autobiography. Through the combination of his elements, American landscapes, houses (interiors and exteriors) and women are woven together to form a loose tale. It's a tale of truth and fiction as dance partners. There's no way to know the difference between reality and dream and there's no reason to even care. We're watching a vision unfold, a vision that is shaped by a man with a past. That's what art is, we're not here to decide what's right or wrong about a vision, we're here to witness it. We want artists following their internal drives, not stifling them. For anyone that wants to pull apart the morality contained within art, go instead watch the news and you can weigh in on the daily realities transpiring around the world. Art is its own entity and its own vehicle. A vision is here on display and for that, we need applaud. 
By Mike Brodie
Twin Palms Publishers

Mike Brodie rode the American trains. As a part of a sort of loose movement and youth subculture rooted in punk and birthed in a desire to escape conformity, Brodie crisscrossed the country for a brief period of time. Parallels can and will be made with other great American "escapes" into the landscape and yet, aside from those legitimate comparisons, the photographs that Brodie made stand on their own, with great merit. Like beautiful glimpses of the freedom in youth we see the American landscape in all its full glory. Here a mark has been made. It's not one that we will see for quite some time. Something else will come down the road, but it will be different and that's okay, that's how a "mark" works. Bravo. 
By Oliver Chanarin and Adam Broomberg

The established duo, Chanarin & Broomberg, here work with the Archives of Modern Conflict to spectacular result. Violence, catastrophe and religion mix together in a way that not only belong but are then self-evident. Additionally the notion of photography itself and its omnipresence is laid bare; its "desire" to record everything, to capture every event, every thing, every person, every object. The Bible becomes then a vehicle to discuss mankind and our events as a history with the image as its witness. 
By Paul Kwiatkowski
Black Balloon Publishing

A tale of trailer parks, drugs and teenage construction and destruction, Paul K has brought forth an American diary hugely personal and partially universal. Through skillfully written prose and raw imagery that's authored, found and stolen, we witness the protagonist's young life on display. It's not pretty nor should it be. A scrapbook of intention and carefully put together pieces, we witness elation and pain and the special concoction of America's "Florida" in all its glory. 
John Duke*
By Richard Prince
Fulton Ryder

An ode to the myth of men as big as mountains, Prince takes the raw material of America and molds it. One part man and one part manufacturing, the legend of our tallest cowboy is cut up with scissors and pieced back together with aesthetic and intellectual intent. In John Duke, an American tall tale is riffed on with a deft touch and always complicated eye and by a man with tall tales of his own. Myth on myth.

*This title is out-of-print. Email us to be notified if copies become available.
Lost and Found*
By Tanyth Berkeley

Tanyth Berkeley went to the land of polygamy and came back with two women and three tales. One of psychologically battered women, one of methamphetamine living, and one of the power and potentiality of redemption from the land. The tales of Ruth and Spice are art and documentary, both notions inseparable, biographical and auto-biographical. It is a complicated dance of beauty, suffering and the majestic construct of "the woman." Berkeley seems to be situated in a place all of her own and she is made for the work that she does as it is her interior that's on display. 

*This title is not currently available from photo-eye. Email us to be notified if copies become available.
 Doug Rickard (American, born 1968) studied United States history and sociology at the University of California, San Diego, before moving to art. He is represented by Stephen Wirtz Gallery in San Francisco and Yossi Milo Gallery in New York. He is the founder of American Suburb X and These Americans.