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Photography & media

Contemporary photography - from the studio and the playground

— September 2011

Article read level: Art lover

Associated media

Rachel Louise Brown, Pacifico. The Male Pin Up Casting, NYC, 2011, Lambda print.

Hardcover: Image Perspectives

Edited by Rut Blees Luxemburg

The work of 20 contemporary artists working with photography and the moving image – all of whom were graduates of the Royal College of Art in 2011 – is gathered here.  On the face of it, the book appears to be simply a ‘showcase’ for these – now past – students of the Royal College.  Hardcover, however, sets out to do something different and it looks less like a catalogue or brochure than an artist’s experimental printed space.

Hardcover presents the artists’ work as a series of artists’ pages.  Some of the artists included present standard photographs accompanied by a short statement and others include written – sometimes handwritten – commentaries or narratives.  This is where the book departs from the conventions of the artists ‘catalogue’ – contributors were invited to regard the book as a ‘laboratory, atelier, playground and venue’.  Given that, many of the artists’ contributions are indeed playful; Megan Powell presents a series of photographs of a table with a microphone on it, showing the place where a narrative has taken place, along with the narrative itself reproduced on the facing page.  Works shown here play with photographs and ideas of what photography is, and they are witty as well as incisive.  Rebecca Court’s work Political Speech is exactly that, a political speech amended by a speechwriter to include all the beats and pauses of the form, and reproduced as a text-work.  Some of these works can clearly only occur in the book form, where the intimacy with the reader and the serial nature of the act of reading itself are taken into account.  Jonny Biggs’ work, Into the Forest/Out of the House is an example of this, where the photograph of a woman kneeling against a green background on one page is continued over the next page.

There are a small number of short essays interspersed throughout the book by Olivier Richon, Vanessa Boni and Mike Sperlinger and others, some of whom are teachers at the Royal College.  Some are more helpful than others; Vanessa Boni’s essay directly relates to photography and the making of books, but all the essays help to explain the concerns of the artists included, and position their work.

Hardcover– as you would expect – is superbly well illustrated throughout with high-quality reproductions, as this is the point of the exercise.  This book would be of interest to the general reader who wants to find out what kind of work younger photographers are making and what the current generation are thinking and doing – before their work appears in small (and large) galleries.

Hardcover: Image Perspectives, edited by Rut Blees Luxemburg, is published by Black Dog Publishing. 128 pp. Fully illustrated,  £10.00. ISBN 9781907317415


Mo White
Loughborough University
Art historian

Media credit: Image from Hardcover: Image Perspectives edited by Rut Blees Luxemburg

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