Every year, BJP-online asks a selection of industry leaders to recommend the photobooks, exhibitions, and projects that stood out to them most. Throughout December and January, we will be sharing their nominations for the Best of 2019.
Since founding the London-based independent publishing house MACK in 2010, Michael Mack has produced over 500 photobooks, many by some of the most defining artists of the decade. In 2012, Mack established the annual First Book Award, an open submission for photographers who have not yet published a photobook.
As 2020 begins, Mack picks out five remarkable projects from the year just gone.
Hexamiles by Batia Suter
There is a special section on my bookshelves, within stretching distance from the chair at my desk, reserved for the books published by Amsterdam-based publisher Roma. The numerous volumes of the work of Swiss artist Batia Suter are the highlight, each a collaboration with publisher and designer Roger Willems that harbours startlingly complex ideas and compelling imagery within the restrained simplicity of their formal production and design.
were it not for by Michael Ashkin
The output from Roma, fw: books and Valiz highlight the fact that some of the very best books are coming out of Amsterdam these days, and Michael Ashkin’s were it not for is my favourite of 2019. With an extended series of images which resonate with the history of the best work of new topographics photographers Lewis Baltz and Robert Adams, Ashkin presents an acerbic critique of contemporary American destiny manifested in the landscape. The integration of text as a form of concrete poetry is a genius touch.
I confess by Moyra Davey
Davey is one of those rare artists who moves nimbly between mediums, and her installation at greengrassi gallery in London, integrating an extensive film piece into a room with a mail art project, was brilliant. She also makes exquisite books and the recent Steidl/Scotiabank retrospective volume is an important reference for her practice.
Decolonising the Camera by Mark Sealy
In this, the most important book of the year, Sealy lucidly elaborates the ingrained racist ideologies at work in photography. His incisive critique is an important contribution to the history of the medium.
Despite the constrained deck space occasionally pitching in response to passing bateaux mouches, this is my favourite place to visit during Paris Photo. A congenial stopping off point on the Seine between the Grand Palais and offprint, every year this event brings together some of the most interesting publishers and artists, whether it is old favourite TIS books (whose Entrance to Our Valley by Jenia Fridyland was one of my choice buys of the fair) or an emerging publishing house like VOID from Athens whose experimental approach to book-making and materiality is exemplary.