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Best Books 2015: Christopher J. Johnson

Best Books 2015 Best Books 2015 Christopher J. Johnson 2015 Best Books picks from Christopher J. Johnson.

By Jacob A. Riis
Yale University Press

The best thing that art can do is to humanize otherwise unknown experiences by putting us in the place or awareness of others. Jacob A. Riis had that power and his book How The Other Half Lives did nothing short of change the world. This catalogue allows us the fullest experience of his work; it allows us the experience of others.
By Jordan Sullivan
Ampersand Editions

Jordan Sullivan’s work is experimental, traditional, narrative and poetic. An Island in the Moon mixes natural objects with nude portraits to find the feminine form a place within the infinite mystery of the natural world (where it rightly belongs), rather than the objectified world of "man" and his "desires." Making a good book of nudes is difficult, but Sullivan provides a challenging and comprehensive view of the body as natural phenomenon.
By Yusuf Sevincli
Espas & Filigranes Editions

Good Dog is an homage to Daido Moriyama that transcends its purpose. Seemingly the journey of a single night from the viewpoint of a single onlooker, this book has a place in my memory inseparable from my experience of life. I have been Sevincli’s night traveler and to experience his book is to recall my life.
By Peter Mitchell
RRB Publishing

Some Thing Means Everything to Somebody is my very favorite book of the year. Inspired by his memories of the British Museum’s 60s exhibition of the artifacts in Tutankhamen’s tomb, Mitchell’s book is a collection of random personal artifacts and of scarecrows. The connection at first seems oblique, but it doesn’t take long before you begin to see yourself — not now, rather at some future time when you haven’t any flesh or thoughts or wants — in relief. A collection of objects without any emotional or physical anchor.
By Mona Kuhn

There is something that is always more genuine within the process of nude portraiture when a woman presents the female form. It becomes less about desire than it does about dignity, utility and grace. Private is Mona Kuhn’s best book yet, her handling of light, of the female form and of landscape makes this a book about connections: the body’s connection to the earth and the one principle that unifies and equalizes everything that falls within our sight — the principle of light.
By TR Ericsson
The Cleveland Museum of Art

TR Ericsson's Crackle & Drag is the compendium of a single family and its history; it involves Ericsson himself, but largely focuses on the family that came before him, and in particular his mother, whose suicide left a shadow over the artist's mind that has been deepening, darkly, into his works. This catalogue is a sort of catch-up in regards to Ericsson, it features all of his projects to-date including a good investigation of his Thirst zines, an overview of his photographic and non-photographic works and of his own words and thoughts.
By Edited by Carl De Keyzer & David Van Reybrouck
University of Chircago Press

Until my generation, every man in my family served in a branch of the military. (Shortly after my 18th birthday, the US Naval office called me to tell me I would not be eligible for service due to health concerns…) I grew up on tales surrounding military service and it has given me a fascination with war; not with strategy or weaponry or even battles and geography, but the people like my grandfather, my father and his twin brother and my other uncles who find themselves within it. It is the human faces of those who serve and those who experience or otherwise suffer conflict that I am interested in because our faces convey so much about our experiences even when we wish they wouldn’t. The First World War is an amazing collection in a beautifully constructed book. Having public widespread access to these photographs is perhaps one of the photo events of the year; this collection should not be ignored by photogs nor service men or anyone else.

Christopher J. Johnson lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is a writer for the Meow Wolf art collective and book reviewer for CFile. His first book of poetry, &luckier, will be released by the University of Colorado in 2016. He has worked at photo-eye since 2014.

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