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Book of the Week: Selected by Efrem Zelony-Mindell

Book Review A Certain Logic of Expectations Photographs by Arturo Soto Reviewed by Efrem Zelony-Mindell "Streets cobbled with corners and concrete. Inlays of asphalt and invisible shoe prints left behind by masses in transit. A city is a town, is a place, is an idea taken for granted given the nature of its everydayness..."
A Certain Logic of Expectations
Photographs by Arturo Soto

The Eriskay Connection, Nethelands, 2022. 144 pp., 6¼x8¾".

Streets cobbled with corners and concrete. Inlays of asphalt and invisible shoe prints left behind by masses in transit. A city is a town, is a place, is an idea taken for granted given the nature of its everydayness. A poem is a pause, a breath, a slowness, an image of what is granted by the overlooked of the everyday. Arturo Soto’s A Certain Logic of Expectations plays with the parts that make the city of Oxford what it is, and isn’t, and is becoming. The pages and papers and pictures designed, epitomized by words, demand something of a reader. We, the reader, are invited to imbue ourselves into these photographic works and written words. In this way we as strangers build alongside Soto and end up taking these walks along with him. They reflect on us so that we reflect on ourselves.

How do we say things? How does language speak to photographic imagery? Photography and writing have a long relationship of desire towards, and intimacy with, one another. A Certain Logic of Expectations has capitalized on the forms of literary showing that exist inside photographic storytelling. All the answers one could ever need are held inside the composition of pictures. This book is a one-sentence-story sort of narrative. Through slowness and commitment to idiosyncrasy Soto’s book grows on the reader. It doesn’t happen right away. How people feel about experiencing a place should be informed by varying fragments of urban landscape, design, and what things stand for. The rapport we feel about the place we live in and study from is grown by an unknown street corner becoming the most familiar one. Secret experiences expose the uncharted streets of a place like Oxford, taking it from a very specifically documented history to become something neighborly and personal.

What is this place? Questions feel good in the uncharted parts of a city. How does price work for these residents? How does housing work? What are all the ways in which power disguises the infrastructure of institutions? How does it effect the people who live here? What forms of vulnerability will allow for the exposure of authenticity? The gentleness of Soto’s work draws us smoothly and slowly toward these thoughts. A Certain Logic of Expectations is unburdened by forms of symmetry. Its intrigue sinks in like a warm bath rising. Wandering streets grip the magic of wonder as intimacy becomes marked by locations. Streets sing in silence to each of us and how we grow, how we ground, how we make opportunities and share all that we know with ourselves and others.

An ending is nothing but another surprise. A city's limits are not burdened, in Soto’s eyes they are only a beginning. GO BACK! GO BACK! The genuineness of A Certain Logic of Expectations is birthed by buoyant curiosity. The time one takes with this book will expand how photography is consumed. The consumption of pictures should not be prioritized solely by the advancement of tools and technology. Great lakes of knowledge still form in the crooks and cracks of moving, but also inquisiting to what came before. Soto’s book is an opportunity in non-linear thinking, as beautiful as the linear can be. The great challenge to normality is in wondering how relationships form between these covers. They are not meant to form one through reading, this book is an uneven galaxy of quandary and consumption.

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©Logan Bellew
Efrem Zelony-Mindell is a white non-binary artist. Some of their curatorial endeavors include group shows: n e w f l e s h, Are You Loathsome, This Is Not Here, and Witness. They have written about art for Foam, Unseen, DEAR DAVE, SPOT, and essays for artists’ monographs. Their first book n e w f l e s h (2019), published by Gnomic Book and shortlisted for the Paris Photo Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Award 2020, looks to study queerness beyond the body. Efrem's second book Primal Sight (2021), also published by Gnomic Book and short listed for the Lucie Foundation Photo Book Award 2021, is a survey of contemporary black-and-white photography. And their third, self published, book Witness (2021) acts as a small step into the direction of a world cognizant of the values of critical race and gender theory. These books are in over 50 libraries and archives around the world. Efrem exists in Northwest Arkansas, unless they're elsewhere.