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2016 Best Books: Daniel Boetker-Smith

Books Daniel Boetker-Smith : 2016 Best Books Daniel Boetker-Smith Selects Astres Noirs, Snowflakes Dog Man, and Xian as the Best Books of 2016
Daniel Boetker-Smith
Daniel Boetker-Smith is a writer, curator, educator and artist based in Melbourne, Australia. Daniel is the Course Director at Photography Studies College, Melbourne. He is also the Director of the Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive, a not-for-profit organization established in 2013 to promote and share the books of photographers from the Asia-Pacific region at festivals, galleries, and institutions all over the world. Daniel was recently appointed as the new Managing Editor of Photofile, Australia's oldest photography magazine.

Astres NoirsBy Katrin Koenning and Sarker Protick
Chose Commune, 2016.
Astres Noirs
Photographs by Katrin Koenning and Sarker Protick
All of the books I have chosen have at their heart a willingness to experiment, not only with the images and the subject matter but with the book form itself. In each of my choices, the book is a playful, evocative and powerful object whose physicality is intimately intertwined with the photographic narrative or subject. The form and content are inseparable in these books, and the attention to detail (which only reveals itself after repeated viewings) is of the highest quality. These three books are so incredibly unique calling them simply 'books' seems a slight disservice. They are so much more, they deserve to be experienced and savoured.

I wrote about Astres Noirs earlier in the year for Paper Journal; I still return to it often, and I am still incredibly intrigued by it. Each image here stands alone like a hermetic stanza, glowing and shimmering on the page. Whilst this simple book features the work of two photographers, Koenning and Protick, it is not a collaboration, it is a complex curated conversation that offers little in the way of answers, but draws you in via a lulling rhythm. This book invites negotiation, and invites the viewer to connect the silken threads, it also asks questions of the photographic medium and of the book as a medium. The consideration in the beautiful printing and production of these subtle and alchemistic images is extraordinary. There is a playfulness and a joyfulness in this book that is rarely seen.

Read the review by Colin Pantall on photo-eye Blog 
Purchase Book Here

Snowflakes Dog Man
By Hajime Kimura 
Reminders Project, 2016.
Snowflakes Dog Man
Photographs by Hajime Kimura
I have been following Kimura's work for a few years, and he is destined to be seen as a master of the photobook form in years to come. The unique objects he produces year in year out testify to his willingness to lay bare his personal traumas and melancholic stories, and this is his best book yet. Again, as with Astres Noirs, a process of exploration and discovery drives the book, but Kimura's ability to construct such beguiling handmade objects means that we feel this book was made just for us, that it is the only one of its kind in the world, that he is entrusting us with it. As I said above calling Snowflakes Dog Man a 'book' seems slightly ridiculous, it is three distinct publications (two softcover and one hardcover) that oscillate around a central narrative about the passing of Kimura's Father. The dreamy gentleness and subtlety of the images is intoxicating and disturbing. These three books are housed in a handmade slipcase that collectively offers the viewer a feeling of discovery, and a tactile experience of memory. Finally, the strength of his images means this book feels like you're tapping directly into Kimura's cerebral cortex.

XianBy Thomas Sauvin. Self-published, 2016.
Photographs by Thomas Sauvin
This is without a doubt my favourite photobook of the year. I would need dozens of pages to explain it and to talk about the feeling of looking at and experiencing it. Suffice to say every time people see this book they have an intense emotional and physical response, of joy, of sadness, of amazement and of confusion as to how such a thing could exist, and how someone could conceive of such a thing. Thomas Sauvin's Beijing Silvermine project has produced some excellent books thus far, but the melding of simplicity and complexity here is truly astonishing. Its nigh on impossible to describe or explain this book but, here goes - its a series of boxes made entirely from folded paper, layered and bound; each box containing an image or images, and each box opening in unexpected and surprising ways, this book is a traveling mausoleum. Xian is akin to discovering an abandoned house with hundreds of rooms down endless dark winding, looping passages and in every room a treasure, and then under floorboards and in wall cavities, more treasure. Whats even more wonderful is the immense care and respect Sauvin has for the images he has found, he knows his subject intimately and this shines through in this book. This is one of those incredibly rare books that draws audible gasps from its viewer.

Purchase Book Here

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