The Looking Game launches at The Photographers’ Gallery

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Tonight sees the launch of The Looking Game, a book by Mirko Smerdel and M.F.G. Paltrinieri, which brings together images from Californian serial killer Rodney Alcala’s once-secret archive and extracts from British art critic John Berger’s writings.

Alcala, a serial killer and amateur photographer who is currently on death row in California, adopted the alias John Berger while on the run from the police. His archive of images featuring women and children was found by police in 2010 in a storage locker in Seattle. It was made available online by the Huntington Beach Police that same year.

Presented as case studies, the book, which is published by Discipula and Akina Books, sets up a series of connections between the images and Berger’s words in an attempt to read the photographs from a fresh perspective.

By presenting the images and text in this way the book explores and questions the characteristics and nature of photographs as documents, their relationship with the stories they tell, and the act of taking pictures itself.

It is the first installment of an ongoing project by Smerdel and Paltrinieri called The Subnarratives.

The official UK book launch takes place tonight (28 November 2013) at The Photographers’ Gallery on Ramillies Street in Soho. The authors and publishers will be present to sign copies of the book. Entry is free and the event starts at 18.30pm. For more information visit

Tonight’s launch marks the beginning of a string of events that will take place in London over the next two weeks to celebrate the book’s release.

On 5 December, Red Gallery on Rivington Street in Shoreditch, east London, will present an exhibition by the book’s authors. The installation, a physical extension of the book, will explore the relationship between Alcala’s pictures and Berger’s text, placing the spectator centre stage. It starts at 18.30pm and entry is free. The exhibition runs until 14 December. For information visit

Finally, on 11 December there will be a panel discussion and Q&A session at Red Gallery titled The Archive & Fiction. On the panel will one of the book’s authors, Paltrinieri, and artists Maria Kapajeva and Natasha Caruana. The panel will be chaired by Federica Chiocchetti, curator and researcher on photography and literature at the University of Westminster. Entry is free and the event starts at 19.00pm.

The Looking Game, published by Discipula and Akina Books, costs £16. For more information visit: