BJP-online’s month in photobooks

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Q&A: Piero Percoco’s The Rainbow is Underestimated
“I would compare myself to a barracuda, attacking the instant something shiny comes along,” says Piero Percoco. Percoco has never studied photography but, inspired by photographers such as Stephen Shore and William Eggleston, he started taking shots with his phone seven years ago and posting them on Instagram. He now has 45.2k followers, and about to publish his second book with Skinnerboox, The Rainbow is Underestimated.

© Piero Percoco

The Town of Tomorrow: 50 Years of Thamesmead
In the mid-1960s, vast blocks of concrete began to rise out of London’s Erith marshes on the south bank of the River Thames. 50 years on, a new book celebrates one of London’s most famous social housing projects as it gears up for another bold redevelopment. “It’s a crazy place,” says Tara Darby, who has photographed the estate and its inhabitants in images run alongside archive shots of the development. “Because of its geographical location it feels like you’re on the edge of London, but then coupled with that you get this amazing feeling of nature.

Olushola with his family at Lesnes Abbey with South Thamesmead in the distance © Tara Darby

Private Reality: A Diary of a Teenage Boy in 1976
It’s the summer of 1976 in Weymouth, England, and 19-year-old Iain McKell is working the length of a busy seafront with two cameras strung round his neck. One is for his summer job, selling portraits to sunburnt holidaymakers for £1.50 a print. The other is for a personal project, which now – 43 years later – is on its way to being published as a book, Private Reality: A Diary of a Teenage Boy. His friends had no idea what he was doing, he says, but then to some extent neither did he. “We were all partying and having fun, but somehow, I had my eye on the prize,” he says.

© Iain McKell

Shortlist announced for MACK’s First Book Award
Themes of cultural identity and political conflict prevail in the shortlist for the 2019 MACK First Book Award, which was put out to an open call for the first time this year. The shortlisted photographers are: E2-E4 by Jacob Clayton; Turunc by Solene Gun; Oobanken by Jerome Ming; 1972 by Rachel Monosov & Admire Kamudzengerere; The Buzzer by Miguel Proença; June by Tereza Cervenova; Flattened in Time and Space by Angelo Vignali; Alexander by Michal Siarek; Czarna Madonna (Black Madonna) by Jagoda Wisniewska; and Days by Alia Zapparova.

Image courtesy of the artists and MACK

Q&A: Paul Thulin’s Pine Tree Ballads
In the early 1900s, Paul Thulin’s great-grandfather settled on the coast of Maine, reminded of his homeland of Sweden. Thulin’s family has returned to Gray’s Point each summer ever since, and Thulin has been working on a project there, Pine Tree Ballads, for over a decade. Initially inspired by his grandfather’s photographs, he hopes it has “a subtext of struggle and hope that mirrors my narrative sense of self and heritage”, adding: “All moments in time are decisive moments.”

From Pine Tree Ballads © Paul Thulin

Radici by Fabrizio Albertini
Fabrizio Albertini’s latest project began in his vegetable garden. “It was a stream of consciousness that lasted for a couple of years, from 2015 to 2017. I started taking pictures in my garden,” he says, “I was looking for something close to me”. He’s just published the project as a book with Witty Kiwi, giving it the title Radici, which means “roots” in Italian, “like the ones in my guardian”. But the project developed into an exploration of roots in a personal sense too. The book includes archival images found in a museum in Cannobina Valley, where Albertini’s mother grew up.

Radici © Fabrizio Albertini

The Unwanted: homeless in America
“If we don’t look at them, or if we try to sanitise it, then it’s not honest to this brutal experience of being homeless,” says Danish photographer Thilde Jensen, who is currently raising funds to publish a four year project on homelessness shot in four American cities – Syracuse, Gallup, Las Vegas, and New Orleans. “I hope that the photographs help shed light on this experience, and these people who are out there, and I hope it does it in an honest way that gives the viewer some of the experience. I hope it lets you, even for a short period of time, feel that this could be your life.”

Sammy falling down. Gallup, New Mexico, 2016. From The Unwanted © Thilde Jensen

Q&A: Manfred Heiting, photobook expert
Starting to collect photobooks in the 1970s, Manfred Heiting amassed one of the world’s best libraries – but last year it was consumed by the California wildfires. As Steidl publishes his latest book, Czech and Slovak Photo Publications, 1918-1989, BJP catches up with him. “Czechoslovakia was founded in 1918, and 1989 was the days of the Velvet Revolution and the end of the communist regime. In some way the photobooks published there after 1989 became like all Western photobooks, and lost most of their local identity and quality – they may have been made more for ‘us’ than for ‘them’,” he says.

Spread from Czech and Slovak Photo Publications, 1918-1989, edited by Manfred Heiting and published by Steidl

Jasper by Matthew Genitempo
Photographed in the forests and mountains of the Ozarks, Matthew Genitempo’s first book, Jasper, published by Twin Palms, is a poetic exploration of the American landscape and the people who seek peace within its grasp. “I was making photographs of the American Southwest, and Jasper [named after the town in Arkansas where many of the pictures were made] began when I abandoned all that work,” he says. “I had been making photographs that were preconceived, but I wanted to make pictures that were leading with my eyes and my instincts.

From Jasper © Matthew Genitempo

David Denil’s Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking
Travelling to Kiev in the wake of protest, revolution and civil war, Belgian photographer David Denil set about documenting the aftermath of conflict in the minds of ordinary people, still coming to terms with the country’s sharp divisions. The resulting series, Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking, departs from journalistic record, instead attempting to depict “the psychological state of this Ukraine looking at its future while haunted by its past and memory,” he says. “The images are metaphorical representations from the everyday life encountered where time seems frozen but dreams of hope still linger.”

From Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking © David Denil
Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is a freelance journalist who contributes to publications such as The Guardian, The Observer, The FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, The Calvert Journal, Aperture, FOAM, IMA, Aesthetica and Apollo Magazine. Prior to going freelance, she wrote and edited at BJP for 15 years. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy