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Book of the Week: A Pick by Jean-Marie Donat

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Jean-Marie Donat Jean-Marie Donat selects SALITRE edited by Juan Valbuena as Book of the Week.
SALITREEdited by Juan Valbuenaphree, 2015.
This week's Book of the Week pick comes from Jean-Marie Donat who has selected SALITRE edited by Juan Valbuena from phree.

"I discovered Juan Valbuena's work at Polycopies during Paris Photo 2015 this winter. Juan Valbuena works here as a photographer and an editor. For five years, he has been following the life of a building in Madrid, an overcrowded shelter for Senegalese migrants. 'Salitre' means this substance, saltpeter, found on the walls and floors of this building, but also refers to the mix between salt and sweat stuck on the skin during a long run over open water to reach Spain, and by extension to the damages caused by the salt on those immigrants photographs... and lives.

This limited edition contains, as the publishers describes it, '12+1' books, one made by each of the twelve inhabitants and featuring their photographs, drawings, words and documents (ID cards, passports, official letters, papers) and the thirteenth book explaining the project with some texts and images taken exclusively by Juan Valbuena inside the overcrowded house until its eviction (interiors, portraits, objects, daily life).

I find this is a remarkable work in which fantasy has no place. Between a press report and a creation, the content and the format of this exceptional book give the full interest and value of amateur photography. Valbuena succeeds in giving voice to the inhabitants of the Lavapies street. He becomes a storyteller and puts aside his own status as a witness.

The box and the different books, simply made without any artifice, confer to this testimony a universal dimension. An exceptional edition for an exceptional book which could have its place in our Innocences catalogue, especially with its work of collecting and editing this amateur material in a precise frame.

Today's migration issues in Europe clearly echo Valbuena's work and makes his book even more important."—Jean-Marie Donat

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SALITREEdited by Juan Valbuenaphree, 2015.
SALITREEdited by Juan Valbuenaphree, 2015.

Born in 1962 in Paris, Jean-Marie Donat has been working for 30 years in the publishing industry. During the 80s he was a contributor to the Italian magazine Frigidaire and worked as a studio manager and art director for 15 years at Sarbacane Design, contributing to the launch of Sarbacane Publishing House in 2003. With Pierre-Alexandre Mestcherinoff, he created the label PatateRecords, specialized in reissues of Jamaican music artists. Today he manages his own editorial creative agency, AllRight. Les rencontres de la photographie d'Arles 2015 was the perfect occasion for him to launch INNOCENCES, a publishing house dedicated to the image in all its forms.  A passionate and wise photography collector, he has been accumulating photographs for 30 years throughout his travels in Europe and in the USA with one strong idea: to give his unique interpretation of the century.

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