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2016 Best Books: Christian Michael Filardo

Books Christian Michael Filardo: 2016 Best Books Christian Michael Filardo Selects The Picture of the Afghan Hound, Telegraph Ave, and to the grave as the Best Books of 2016
Christian Michael Filardo
Christian Michael Filardo is a photographer and composer living and working in Santa Fe, NM. Filardo has worked for VICE MagazineBeliever Magazine, the Phoenix New Times, and is the shipping manager at photo-eye Bookstore. He is a recent recipient of an honorarium in new music from Oberlin College’s Modern Music Guild. Filardo’s first book, Say My Last Name Softly, a collaboration with Marie Claire Bryant, was released in April 2016 on Holy Page Records.

"As of Monday, November 21, 2016, I will have worked at photo-eye for exactly a year, I’ve seen many books worthy of being called the best. Books without a bad picture in them, without any design flaws. However, I find it takes more than just a good picture to move me. Not to say I am a monolith of critique but the books that interest me tend to move beyond the latent image into my personal stratosphere. They recall my individual experience and lead me to question the current state of contemporary photography. That’s why I have selected three books by photographers at the beginning of their careers. All of whom are having what I believe to be relevant conversations with their own personal practice and photography as a medium. Enjoy!"

The Picture of the Afghan HoundBy Bucky Miller
Self-published, 2016.
The Picture of the Afghan Hound
Photographs by Bucky Miller
I used to sit directly across from Bucky Miller in Michael Lundgren’s photo two course at Arizona State University. In a sense you could say we photographically grew up together. Miller pushed me as a photographer and has never let himself get off easily. Recently, a package arrived in my mailbox from Miller. I opened it to reveal a zine produced by Miller playfully called The Picture of the Afghan Hound. Currently pursuing his master’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin, Miller’s style has morphed into something insanely unique. Emphasizing the dichotomy of a photograph as an art object with the photograph as a scientific document Miller mixes the vernacular with the esoteric to create a completely unique mythos.

Here Miller toys with the double, the diptych, the duality of surrealism and reality. His hound leads us down a path that is just as enlightening as it is mysterious. Is the everyday really all it appears to be? There is no telling where Miller’s path will take us in this intimate zine. He leaves us asking more questions and to me, The Picture of the Afghan Hound is just a minute illustration of his photographic practice. Here Miller flexes his ability to create an uncompromising advanced narrative that makes me extremely excited to see what the future holds for him in image making.

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Telegraph AveBy Dianne Weinthal
Self-published, 2016.
Telegraph Ave
Photographs by Dianne Weinthal
I came to know of Dianne Weinthal’s photographic vision after talking to her on the phone at work. The conversation was vague but kind; curious I looked into her practice and began following her on Instagram. Slowly we developed a rapport talking casually about images and artists we admire. Eventually, we decided to do a trade, a print of mine for an artist proof of Telegraph Ave.

Ed Ruscha drove and Weinthal walked. Here we have a developed ode to the strip presented in a beautiful accordion fold telling the story of another avenue. Ripe with color and panoramic visual communication Telegraph Ave is subtle and alluring. I find myself lost in street signs, reflections, light, and the color of the sky. Trash, construction, and text push the work to another level. Placing emphasis on the painterly quality of the images, the composition is paramount in Telegraph Ave, Weinthal’s footsteps influence one another adding to the dialogue of the accordion fold that makes up the book. Although it has a distinct narrative quality Telegraph Ave is not predictable, its vision is clear and refined, a triumph of sequencing. Transforming a potentially mundane walk into an exciting dose of reality. It’s one of those books that you can pick up and see something new every time you look at it.

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to the graveBy Megan Tepper
Self-published, 2016.
to the grave
Photographs by Megan Tepper
I was first made aware of Megan Tepper’s photographs by Colin Stearns (author of the book Meridian) soon after my introduction to the work a copy of to the grave arrived in my mailbox. While Megan’s portfolio is varied and consists of what I would consider a more traditional style of self-portrait, to the grave is something entirely its own. A portrait of the life cycle of a contemporary long distance relationship, to the grave offers a personal look into the experience of online dating in the 21st century.

Consisting of screenshots, photographs, text messages, receipts, ticket stubs, to the grave is an archive of Megan’s relationship with their now ex boyfriend Ryan. Strikingly relatable Tepper has managed to condense the phenomenon of seeking love over the Internet into a perfect-bound monograph. Astounding in its vulnerability we get a close up into the couples’ life. We are made aware of the bus rides, flights, and facetime conversations that weaved together the blurry feelings that held their relationship together. While some might not consider this a traditional photobook, I’d consider this work an art object that utilizes the photograph to elaborate on a subject that can be difficult to process. If the best book you seek is one containing the more “traditional” photograph then this book is likely not for you. However, if you want to be emotionally moved and experience something raw and real look no further.

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