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Book of the Week: A Pick by Forrest Soper

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Forrest Soper Forrest Soper selects Libyan Sugar by Michael Christopher Brown as Book of the Week.
Libyan SugarBy Michael Christopher Brown
Twin Palms Publishers, 2016.
Forrest Soper selects Libyan Sugar by Michael Christopher Brown from Twin Palms Publishers as Book of the Week.

"In Libyan Sugar, Michael Christopher Brown has created a body of work, unlike anything I have ever seen before. Shot almost exclusively on a mobile phone, the images in this book document the Libyan Revolution in 2011 and the photographer’s experiences in two separate trips to the country. Alongside the imagery, text, predominantly in the form of electronic messages from the photographer’s family, friends, and colleagues, provides insight into the life and mind of Michael Christopher Brown. The result transforms this book from a mere document of a time and place into an incredibly personal journey as a photographer experiences a war zone.

Beginning with a quote from Slaughterhouse-Five and a dedication to the revolutionaries, Libyan Sugar captivates the viewer immediately. By choosing to work with a camera phone, Michael Christopher Brown forces himself to photograph close to the action — often to the point of being uncomfortably close. As a result, his images seem more personal, more raw, and ultimately more impactful. Abandoning a traditional camera also allowed access to areas and locations that many journalists were not permitted to enter, such as hospital rooms of wounded fighters. While several photographs are hyper-saturated, and some have evidence of digital noise, these nuances are inconsequential to the power of the imagery. 

As the book progresses from the beginning of the revolution to Libya recovering from the aftermath of war, a narrative is driven by remarkably intimate text. A combination of the photographer’s self-reflective writings and personal correspondence gives context to the photographs. A father emails relating military movements as he learns about them in the United States and a mother sends worried texts to her son on her sixty-second birthday. These messages are often short but full of strong and honest emotion.

This emotion is what makes Libyan Sugar such a forceful document. It’s difficult to read through this book without becoming invested in the events that are transpiring. Every message and every image contributes to the ever-evolving narrative. This book not only shows the concern of those close to Michael Christopher Brown but also the passion and dedication of the revolutionaries, seen most predominantly in the celebrations following Muammar Gaddafi’s death. The end result is a book that captures your attention from page one and refuses to leave you unaffected."—Forrest Soper

Purchase Book

Libyan SugarBy Michael Christopher BrownTwin Palms Publishers, 2016.
Libyan SugarBy Michael Christopher BrownTwin Palms Publishers, 2016.

Forrest Soper is a photographer and artist based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. A graduate of Santa Fe University of Art and Design, he also serves as an employee at both photo-eye Bookstore and Bostick & Sullivan.

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