I didn’t actually get many new photobooks this year, so this list is going to be only one book long; Deana Lawson: An Aperture Monograph
All of the usual praise you could give to a great photobook (beautiful design/printing, brilliant photographs, interesting text, etc.) apply to this book, and Lawson’s large format portraiture is particularly to my personal taste, but I wanted to touch on this book not just for it’s intrinsic qualities but for its significance in the wider context of photography and the world itself.
For those unfamiliar with her work, as I was before October this year (when photography Historian/Writer John Edwin Mason wrote out a few thoughts on the winning pictures from the Taylor Wessing Portrait prize and mentioned Lawson, Carrie Mae Weems and Zanele Muholi, whose work I shamefully wasn’t familiar with), Lawson is an American photographer ‘whose work revolves primarily around issues of intimacy, family, spirituality, sexuality, and Black aesthetics. Lawson has been praised for her ability to communicate the nuances of African American experiences in relation to issues of social, political, and economic factors.’ (Thanks Wikipedia).
As most people involved in photography are probably aware, the prevailing perspective has, since the invention of the medium, been white, male and middle/upper-class, and that’s what dominates my bookshelf. It’s easy to believe that our taste in art/music/food/etc. is somehow arrived at rationally, and therefore fixed to a degree, but the world will only move forwards through positive action. With all of the division that we see in the world currently, it’s vital that we continue to broaden our horizons, and allow ourselves to be challenged by new work and perspectives.
What other work should I be aware of? Leave a comment below and let me know.
Deana Lawson: An Aperture Monograph is available now.
Finally; Happy New Year - thanks to everyone who’s supported me, given me work, or been a friend. See you all in 2019.