Best of 2018: Alnis Stakle, Riga Photomonth

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Museum of Kharkiv School of Photography
Sergei Lebedinsky and team at the Museum of Kharkiv School of Photography has launched an ambitious new project, which includes creating a collection of photobooks by Ukranian photographers, publishing new photobooks by these authors, and digitising both strands. The characteristic aesthetics of the Kharkiv School of Photography have been canonised on a global scale by the works of Boris Mikhailov, yet he was only one of many image-makers to emerge from Kharkiv, the majority of whom are little- or completely unknown to the wider public. The Museum has already started to create the collection and published its first photobook, KOCHETOV by Viktor and Sergey Kochetov, and to my mind this project is one of the most intriguing events of 2018 in the entire Post-Soviet photography arena.

Masahisa Fukase, published by Editions Xavier Barral
The book Masahisa Fukase by Editions Xavier Barral publishing house features not only the iconic works of Ravens (1991), but also some of his lesser-known experiments with photographic images. The book highlights some of his works that to date have been unknown to the wider public yet vividly place Masahisa Fukase amongst the most celebrated Japanese photographers of his generation.

Image by Masahise Fukase, from the book Masahise Fukase published by Editions Xavier Barral

Daisuke Yokota’s Inversion, published by Akio Nagasawa Publishing
Inversion is another experimental book by Daisuke Yokota, published by Akio Nagasawa Publishing. It is an organic continuation of his experiments with the materiality of the photography medium. This time, the book has been made as an OHP film, and the images were created in the form of silk screen. That is, each page of each book, which is published in an edition 80, is a unique piece of art. If we imagine photography as a sound, then each of Daisuke’s books has its own peculiar tonality.

Carmen Winant’s My Birth, published by Self Publish, Be Happy Editions and ITI Press
The book My Birth by Carment Winant published by Self Publish, Be Happy Editions and ITI Press is a private, intimate and situational testimony of a birth experience. The use of the artist’s private archive and appropriated images confront the viewer with the topic that has been both romanticised with pictorealistic narratives and always been considered a taboo in visual culture.

Spread from My Birth © Carmen Winant, published by SPBH Editions and ITI Press (2018)

Closure of ABLV Bank in Latvia
The final entry in this list probably ought to be categorised as the worst rather than the best of the year. The closure of ABLV Bank in Latvia, following the loss of its reputation in relation to some presumed deals with North Korea, means that the construction of the a Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art has stalled. It’s also left the fate of the largest collection of contemporary art in Latvia hanging in the balance. The ABLV Bank’s collection of contemporary art was created in partnership with the Ministry of Culture of the Latvia, and – unusually in the conservative Latvian art arena – photography played a prominent role in it.