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2016 Best Books: Sarah Bradley

Books Sarah Bradley: 2016 Best Books Sarah Bradley Selects The Narcissistic City, Meridian, and ZZYZX as the Best Books of 2016
Sarah Bradley
Sarah Bradley is a writer, sculptor and the former editor of photo-eye Blog. She recently worked with Meow Wolf on the exhibition The House of Eternal Return.

The Narcissistic City. By Takashi Homma. 
Mack, 2016.
The Narcissistic City
Photographs by Takashi Homma
I’ve returned to this book many times this year. Despite having a very strong sense of it, it remains a mystery. I tired a few times to write about it, kept failing, eventually feeling like maybe I didn’t really get it. I still might not, but more and more I feel that this isn’t a book that is easily accessible by language. I experience it like a concept, but what results is an understanding of space and its dimensionality, knowledge gleaned visually and without narrative. As I’m being asked to use words, I’ll say that for me this is a book about looking and reflection, seeing and being seen, the self, the selfness of what we create, how we view it, how it views us. To look at this book is to know a very specific liminality and with it a strange awareness originating solely in the visual.

Selected by Colin Stearns as Book of the Week 
Purchase Book Here

MeridianBy Colin StearnsRITA, 2015.
Photographs by Colin Stearns
Meridian is quiet and understated, straightforward in layout and small in scale but makes good use of those modest assets. It’s smartly designed. Intimately sized images appear and occasionally repeat, scenes are sometimes viewed from slightly different angles, sometimes printed lightly, making one unsure if the image is really there or if one is seeing the ghost of the photo on the reverse bleeding through. Images fade in and out. A figure appears on one page and then again on the following, but loosing distinction. Suddenly one becomes aware of the shadow of the image through the paper. The photographs move from coastal spaces to verdant ones to concrete and back again, but for me this book isn’t so much about that visual content. Images seem correlated with thought and feeling, the book unwrapping stream of consciousness style to reveal a solitary and heady place. I know this space well; I am often here – but never actually here. Stearns’ voice is well articulated and his Meridian is his own, co-existing as both familiar and foreign terrain.

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

ZZYZXBy Gregory Halpern. Mack, 2016.
Photographs by Gregory Halpern
There are a number of photographers who are ostensibly exploring and interpreting the United States in a manner similar to Gregory Halpern; finding photographs in small spaces of things and people in disuse, the unplanned and the broken, capturing intimacy in public spaces in the role of engaged observer. Not all who choose this method hit the mark, and I’ve seen it enough to be on the edge of exhaustion. Halpern reminds me how exceptional the outcome can be.

An image in ZZYZX shows a pigeon perched on a hand, pink flowers popping brightly in the background. The bird looks directly at the camera with a cocked gaze, slightly crouched, bent to the right. It looks intently. Cord is wrapped around the hand it perches on, the hand’s pair rises strangely over the pigeon’s head, a gesture indicative of the interaction between photographer and handler and revealing obliviousness to the moment between bird and camera. The layers of action, realities, understanding and lack there of captured in this simple scene are why I love Halpern’s work. Nearly all the images in ZZYZX are similarly dense, strikingly distinctive in their directness and subtle complexity. These photographs unpack. Like the blue that permeates the entire book, ZZYZX is simultaneously about the photographs individually and the certain tension they hold when amassed. This book is seldom static, never inert.

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

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