1. Laura El-Tantawy: In the Shadow of The Pyramids
The debut book from Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize-nominated Laura El-Tantawy is an intense and indeterminate mood piece, providing a captivating perspective on Egypt’s 2011 ‘Tahrir Square revolution’ (pictured above). El-Tantawy deftly mixes impressionistic street photographs of the protests with old family photographs showing her upbringing, weaving together the chaos, paranoia and obscurity of the present with the innocence of her past. In the Shadow of The Pyramids provides a dizzying descent into the nature of protest, and in the process raises the bar for any similar work that follows.
For more information or to order a copy visit lauraeltantawy.com
2. Mariela Sancari: Moises
As family histories go, Mariela Sancari’s poignant photo book is of the highest order. Drawing on her father’s tragic suicide when Sancari was 14, Moises is a touching testimony to the chasm left in someone’s life when a loved one dies. This book of portraits depicts various men of her father’s age, were he still alive today – subjects who responded to an advert the photographer placed in a local newspaper. Shot in a typological manner against plain backdrops, the men appear lost and vulnerable as we turn from one interlocking set of pages to another. As a design device, it perfectly heightens the searching quality of the photographs. Loss and longing are embedded in every picture but with a particular kind of brightness and clarity. In a sense this is a one-image book, yet it possesses tremendous power and profundity. Sancari has found an utterly fascinating way to bring alive the memory of her father in the minds of her viewers.
For more information or to order a copy visit marielasancari.com
3. Mariken Wessels: Taking Off. Henry My Neighbor
Dutch artist Mariken Wessels has made it her business to tell the story of a real-life husband and wife, their failed marriage, sexual frustration and voyeurism via an extraordinary archive of found photographs, collage and sculpture. Taking Off. Henry My Neighbor allows us to enter into the lives of Henry and Martha, who embarked on a collaborative photographer-muse project together. The result is a corpus of 5500 intimate photographs, creepily categorised, labelled, notated and cross-referenced by Henry, which led to the relationship ending and his self-imposed exile. Edited with scrupulous care to build an incomplete narrative, the book is not simply a biography or catalogue raisonne of amateur nude art but something more compelling, dispassionate and altogether unsettling. At least, it is a complex portrait of obsession and the private secrets of those living next door, constructed through Wessels’ unique brand of storytelling.
For more information or to order a copy visit marikenwessels.com
4. José Pedro Cortes: One’s Own Arena
Published to coincide with the current exhibition at Museu de Electricidade, Lisboa, José Pedro Cortes completes his sense of place trilogy, after the excellent Things Here and Things Still to Come (2011) and Costa (2013). Toyama, Japan provides the structure and setting for One’s Own Arena, revealing a looser approach to recording micro-worlds from the Portuguese photographer. His wandering eye is often devastatingly perceptive, honing in on surfaces and the skin of the people and places he elects to photograph. Alleyways, interiors of bars, plant life and fragile nudes shot in hotels or homes all feature, the concrete often melting into the abstract through the deployment of light, texture and shadow. His finest and most confident photo book to date.
For more information or to order a copy visit pierrevonkleist.com
5. Christian Patterson: Bottom of the Lake
Who knew a 253-page facsimile of a phonebook from 1973 could be so scintillating? By inserting appropriated material, drawings and ephemera as well as his own photographs comprising still life and landscapes, Christian Patterson offers a reimagining of his hometown Fond du Lac (Bottom of the Lake) Wisconsin, that reveals how seeing changes through time. Abstract and enigmatic images of the lighthouse and surrounding environment bear little signs of life and are photographed from a coolly-observed distance. All the while, the impossibility of return is evoked in this deeply personal mission of discovery. While unlikely to top the success of 2012’s Readheaded Peckerwood – already a contemporary classic – Patterson continues to masterfully play his part in freeing the photobook from orthodoxy.
For more information or to order a copy visit christianpatterson.com
6. Thomas Sauvin: Until Death Do Us Part
Thomas Sauvin is a habitually fantastic book-maker. His noteworthy contribution to this year’s offerings is Until Death Do Us Part, a tiny but perfectly formed cigarette box-cum-photo book containing vernacular images of bizarre smoking rituals at Chinese weddings. In his hands, discarded negatives salvaged from a recycling plant outside of Beijing become fresh and arresting images by virtue of playful editing and experimentation. Here he’s delved deep into his archive and produced a compelling, whimsical take on a disappearing Chinese tradition, all the while eeking out cultural significance in which love and death share the same breath.
For more information or to order a copy visit jiazazhistore.com
7. Katarzyna Mazur: Anna Konda
A private, all-female fightclub situated in east Berlin serves as the subject for this curious little gem of a photo book from Polish photographer Katarzyna Mazur. There are no bells and whistles – Anna Konda is simply a small, well-produced softcover publication, relying on the pale, flesh-colour paper as its principle design trope. Such restraint makes it all the richer. It gives full-measure to the relentlessly strong imagery of women of all ages and weights, pictured grappling it out in a rented room in the Marzahn area of the city, their bodies scratched and bruised. This is not easily reducible or categorisable work but offers a distinct variant in its exploration of femininity as well as attitudes to violence and body worship.
For more information or to order a copy visit dienacht-magazine.com
8. Vincent Delbrouck: Dzogchen
Recipient of the 2015 Outset Unseen Exhibition Fund, Vincent Delbrouck brings us his most recent photo book, Dzogchen, the result of more than ten years photographing in Cuba and Nepal. Restless, immersive and extremely aesthetic, his highly subjective approach gets under the skin of the various environments he works in. What’s more, there is a certain grisly satisfaction derived from viewing his coarse overlaying of different kinds of physical imagery – collage, photographs as objects, and superimposed images – and the improvised way of working. It flies in the face of much polished digital photography that exists today.
For more information or to order a copy visit wildernessbookshop.tictail.com
9.Vittorio Mortarotti: The First Day of Good Weather
Although little-known, independent Italian publishing house Skinnerboox has produced a good many photo books that continually reward the sensitive and thoughtful. Its latest title, The First Day of Good Weather by Vittorio Mortarotti, is no exception. Honest and straightforward, it narrates two connected events: the death of the photographer’s brother in a car accident in 1999 and a trip to Japan to search for his brother’s girlfriend who continued to write and send photos after the accident, leading Mortarotti to Fukashima and the area affected by the tsunami. It’s a quiet yet moving, conceptual-documentary record that draws a line between his personal grief and Japan’s collective trauma.
For more information or to order a copy visit skinnerboox.com
10. Dana Lixenberg: Imperial Courts
Made in the neighbourhood of Los Angeles from which the series takes its name, Imperial Courts lifts the lid on an underserved community and its residents. Photographing there for more than 20 years between 1993 and 2015, Lixenberg has come away with striking, sometimes surreal black and white imagery that admirably avoids negative stereotyping or references to gang culture. She is the maker of photographs with fleeting life, capturing the changing face of the community with her 4×5 field camera, as children grow up to have kids of their own, go to jail or suffer worse fates. It’s possible to drink in the enthusiasm and affection for her subjects, while at the same time sense the dark undertow of such a troubled neighbourhood.
For more information or to order a copy visit romapublications.org