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2016 Best Books: Forrest Soper

Books Forrest Soper: 2016 Best Books Forrest Soper Selects My Place, Discordia, and Silent Histories as the Best Books of 2016
Forrest Soper
Forrest Soper is a photographer and artist based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. A graduate of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, he previously worked at Bostick & Sullivan. Forrest is the Editor of photo-eye Blog.

My Place
By Dina OganovaSelf-published, 2015.
My Place
Photographs by Dina Oganova
My Place by Dina Oganova is by far the most intimate book I have seen in 2016. Printed in an edition of 87 handmade copies, this beautiful book was handwritten in both Georgian and in English. Every image is a tipped-in print, and every page was individually stained. While there is no doubt that My Place is a beautiful object, ultimately the design is only used as a tool to highlight the intimacy that is found in the work itself.

Focusing on a generation of Georgians who were born in the final years of the Soviet Union, My Place is bursting with beautiful portraits of these young men and women. In the book, these individuals talk about their perspectives on life, their individual aspirations and fears, and ultimately what it means to be Georgian. Many of these individuals discuss being in a state of limbo, feeling as if they are currently living in a state where they don’t truly belong.

Perhaps it is because the age of these individuals is so close to my own, but I couldn’t help but feel connected to the subjects of My Place. As you turn the pages, you are told countless dreams and secrets. Reading this book is like reading a collection of diaries, all somehow interconnected. With an intimate design, intimate portraits, and intimate text, My Place is sure to leave a long-lasting impact in the mind of the viewer.

Purchase Book Here

DiscordiaBy Moises SamanSelf-Published, 2016.
Photographs by Moises Saman
I had a very hard time choosing between Discordia and Libyan Sugar for my second selection. These books were both shot by Magnum photographers who documented different aspects of the 'Arab Spring' while pushing the definition of contemporary photojournalism. Both titles are incredible publications, but ultimately Discordia had a larger personal impact in my life.

Named after the Latin translation of Eris, the Greek goddess of discord and strife, this book was shot in seven countries over a period of four years. Documenting the numerous revolutions that occurred in the Middle East in 2011, Discordia takes us on a non-linear journey. When you read this book, you are first presented with the images devoid of text. The images are not chronological, nor are they divided by country or region; instead they paint a picture of the region as a whole and how these revolutions rapidly grew as the established governments fell into discord.

Printed on matte paper and containing a stunning combination of color and black-and-white photography, Discordia is beautifully designed. Whether you are looking at a photograph of a hospital bed covered in fake blood or an assembled collage of Egyptian protesters, it is impossible not to be drawn into this book. This is Saman’s first monograph, and it is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Purchase Book Here

Silent HistoriesBy Kazuma Obara
Silent Histories
Photographs by Kazuma Obara
Originally printed in 2014 in an edition of 45 handmade copies, Silent Histories was reprinted in 2016 in a trade edition. While the original printing was mentioned in many acclaimed best photobooks lists, I felt that the trade edition was too impressive not to mention again (if only because now a much wider audience can view the work.)

Silent Histories follows the stories of seven individuals who were young at the time of US airstrikes on Japan during WWII. Beginning with vernacular photographs from these individual’s lives before the airstrikes, the book follows these individuals to the present day to examine how the injuries they acquired during the war turned into life-long disabilities. Throughout the book, there are numerous inserts, from facsimile replications of propaganda pamphlets to state-issued disability cards.

Ultimately this book holds so much information that it is hard to convey its importance in three short paragraphs. At the end of this day, this book is a statement on the long-lasting effects of war, and a call to arms to create legislation that offers compensation to civilian victims during conflict.

Read the review by Adam Bell on photo-eye Blog 
Purchase Book Here

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