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Book of the Week: A Pick by Aaron Schuman

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Aaron Schuman Aaron Schuman selects The Lonely Ones by Gus Powell as Book of the Week.
The Lonely Ones. By Gus Powell.
J&L Books, 2015.
This week's Book of the Week pick comes from Aaron Schuman who has selected The Lonely Ones by Gus Powell from J&L Books.

"Waking up this morning, I realized that few photobooks sit so fittingly on my mess of a bedside table — alongside a pile of back-issues of The New Yorker, my ten-year-old son’s battered copy of There’s Treasure Everywhere: A Calvin and Hobbes Collection, and a Penguin Classics edition of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (which opens with the line, “I am always drawn back to places where I have lived, the houses and their neighborhoods”) — as Gus Powell’s intimate and beautifully curious The Lonely Ones, recently released by J&L Books. Taking inspiration from a 1942 publication of the same name by the celebrated cartoonist William Steig (whose work, like Powell’s, was regularly featured in The New Yorker), Powell pairs and then hides each of his quizzical photographs behind a gatefold that contains a carefully matched, one-line text: 'Let’s not ruin it by talking,' 'Mistakes were made,' 'We’ve met before,' 'Remember?' It’s rare that, when text is paired with image, it not only provides a particular window of insight for the viewer, but also reflects multiple meanings to prismatic effect, prying open already open-ended photographs even further. Yet here, seemingly simple scenes and encounters — a fluffy white cloud cresting over a desert hill; a pony-tailed woman staring across a sidewalk at a chestnut-colored horse; a discarded green bottle surrounded by sharp, pale rocks; a monarch butterfly caught mid-flight; and so on — are enriched with a hint of quiet, personal poignancy, that is at once both playful and profound. Or, to quote one of my son’s (and my own) favorite comic-strips:
(Calvin, holding a shovel and wearing a pith helmet, sits besides Hobbes in a freshly dug hole in the ground.)

Hobbes: What have you found?

Calvin: A few dirty rocks, a weird root, and some disgusting grubs.

Hobbes: On your first try??

Calvin: There’s treasure everywhere!"—Aaron Schuman
Purchase Book

The Lonely Ones. By Gus Powell. J&L Books, 2015.
The Lonely Ones. By Gus Powell. J&L Books, 2015.

Aaron Schuman is an American artist, writer, and curator, currently based in the United Kingdom. His photographic work is exhibited and published internationally, and held in a number of public and private collections. Schuman regularly writes for magazines such as Aperture, Frieze, Foam, Photoworks, TIME, HotShoe, The British Journal of Photography, and more; he has also contributed texts to several recent books, including Alec Soth: Gathered Leaves (MACK, 2015), Vision Anew (University of California Press, 2015), The Photographer’s Playbook (Aperture, 2014), Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals (Prestel, 2014), Photographs Not Taken (Daylight, 2012), and Words Without Pictures (Aperture, 2010). In 2014, Schuman served as Chief Curator of Krakow Photomonth 2014 – entitled Re:Search, the main program featured exhibitions by Walker Evans, Taryn Simon, Jason Fulford, Clare Strand, Trevor Paglen, Eyal Weizman & Thomas Keenan, and more. Schuman is also a Senior Lecturer at both the University of Brighton and the Arts University Bournemouth, and is the founder and editor of SeeSaw Magazine.

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