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Best Books 2014: Colin Pantall

Best Books 2014 Best Books 2014 Colin Pantall Best Books picks from writer, photographer and lecturer Colin Pantall.

By Antone Dolezal & Lara Shipley
Search Party Press

This is a 3-volume set that uses the full range of photography (contemporary, found, archive and vernacular) and writing to dramatize the story of the Spook Light phenomenon and its connection to mythology and place. There is mystery, ambiguity and the ever-present hint that the Spook Light might be real!
By Zun Lee

Father Figure is one of those books that is so clear, direct and simple that it reaches outside the photographic community. At the same time it is a complex narrative of what it means to be a black father in the United States. Heartfelt, moving and inspired.
By Nicolo Degiorgis

In Hidden Islam, Nicolo Degiorgis gets under the skin of Italian society by examining where Muslims pray. It’s a book where architecture, demographics and migration unite, all put together with a dynamism that cuts to the chase of the most divisive issue in Europe today.
Silent Histories*
By Kazuma Obara

This is the most beautiful book of the year. It is handmade and was self-published in a labor-intensive edition of 45. A mix of contemporary images with archival pictures, texts and documents, Silent Histories relates the struggles that survivors of American bombing have endured since the war.

*This title is out-of-print. Email us to be notified if copies become available.
By Alejandro Cartagena

This is a multi-layered book where the economic geography of a Mexican town is revealed using overhead pictures of the people who service the wealthy suburbs lying in pick-up trucks. It’s a simple photographic device that is given added impetus by the smart design.

*This title is out-of-print. Email us to be notified if copies become available.
By Anouk Kruithof

Anouk Kruithof is super smart and this is her super smartest book. She deals with hugely complex subjects (how we see, curate, and exhibit photographs) in a light and accessible form, making you work to see the pictures. Imaginative, intelligent and funny, it’s more about the process of how we select and view of images than a photobook.
By Irina Werning

This is another book that goes beyond photography and injects a huge amount of fun while getting people to really address every last detail of its then and now pairs of portraits. Back to the Future fascinates just about everybody who sees it and with its focus on getting every rephotographed detail exactly right, it is a commentary on identity, aging and (with huge attention paid to styling and post production) process.
By Momo Okabe
Session Press

The life of Momo Okabe takes centre stage; her body, her lovers, her travels, her sexuality, her identity. The pictures come with symbolic color overlays but it packs a raw and tender punch, hinting at the sadness, heartache and thrills as Okabe follows her lovers and friends in their journeys across the outer frontiers of gender identity.
By Ricardo Cases

El Porque de las Naranjas is part of a new subgenre of photobooks (together with Frederico Clavarino’s Italia O Italia  which I’ll include joint in this listing) which combine architecture, flora and an abstract symbolism to tell the story of a nation’s political state of health; in the case of Ricardo Cases’ the nation is Spain and the state is unhealthy.
By Melinda Gibson
SPBH Editions

There have been some great gimmicks in photobooks this year, and when those gimmicks tie in with a photobook’s contents and move the medium of the book forward, they are a good thing. They even get you on Best of Photobook lists! The best gimmick is Melinda Gibson’s (no, it’s joint best with Alberto Lizaralde’s everything will be ok and Brad Feuerhelm’s Let us Now Praise Infamous Men). She plays great games with photobooks, making the viewer want to see her pictures and making them remember them when they are not there. In this dreadfully titled number, she does the latter, infusing pictures of her burnt out-studio with a heavy wet charcoal smell. A book in smell-o-rama; it may be a gimmick but, boy, does it work!

Colin Pantall is a UK-based writer, photographer and Senior Lecturer at the University of South Wales, Newport.