Brad Feuerhelm is an American photographer, writer, curator, and the mind behind the Nearest Truth – a podcast dedicated to photography, and writer for American Suburb X, the art & photography magazine.
Brad is also a good friend of Bildband Berlin, and has chosen some books from our selection to write about – it’s a real honour for us, we hope you enjoy reading it!
“I think book stores in our community are essential. They are tireless promoters of our work, and primarily their efforts go without the recognition that they deserve. Without stores, both physical and online, the blossoming of the photobook as a celebrated medium would never have taken hold the way it has over the past decade. It’s shops like Bildband Berlin that consistently bring fresh work to the surface while also promoting artists’ books abroad. I have been lucky enough to visit the shop, launch a book there, and stay in contact with the crew in Berlin. I am partial to their efforts and the many book shops that have helped define our medium over the past years. This list is a highlighting of some of the shop’s excellent titles for the purpose of celebration. When thinking about ordering your next book, please give a thought to buying from Bildband Berlin if on the continent or abroad.”
Joanna’s practice has developed quite a bit since I first saw her work for her graduate exhibition at RCA. Not only defined by brilliant monochrome photographs that display intimacy and resistance, the work is also situated between performance and has elements that explore safety, security, and inhospitable architecture such as zoos. The book is more of a summation of the last years of Joanna’s practice than it is a monograph and is an excellent place to begin exploring her work. The small but voluminously illustrated tome is a must for people interested in the crossroads between performance, politics, and photography.
This is artist Nicole Jean Hill’s fascinating look at the life of Lora Webb Nichols and her photographic output culled from nearly 24,000 negatives. This book oscillates between the historical, the biographical, and the artistic and should also be seen as an excellent example of how archives can be used. The vogue to re-examine and re-assemble historical archives has been on the rise over the past couple of years. Sam Contis, Moyra Davey, and others have experimented with new contextualizations of other artists’ works. With Nicole Jean Hill, the passion and deep respect for the original work are evident, and her vision is concise. Encampment, Wyoming is a brilliantly produced book, and it will be on my end-of-the-year list. It is another Hans Gremmen classic in design and deserves a place in the re-organization of the history of photography.
I wasn’t familiar with Hauswald’s work or story until the exhibition at C/O Berlin. A photographer based in East Germany, Hauswald’s life had been interrupted by the East German State’s notorious Stasi surveillance programs, which built a thick file on the artist. East Germany’s secret police monitored Hauswald in great detail, and the state considered Hauswald a subversive for being sympathetic to peace organizations, among many other humanitarian programs. State interventions saw Hauwald’s archive disappeared, his daughter removed from his single parent care for six months, amongst other horrifying penalties. Hauswald’s story is significant not just to photography but to the history of oppressive political systems. Of note, the book is very reasonably priced both for its size and in-depth analysis.
I admit that I am overly partial to looking at photography books from Germany. The country’s rich history with the medium and its gratuitous talent make it’s a geo-specific point of interest for my interests. Given Germany’s recent history, I enjoy looking at unpublished work or material that shows former East German artists at work. Books about this era seem somehow forbidden and intriguing. In the case of Helga Paris, I was aware of her career, but not this brilliant Lilliputian book of marvel published by Spector Books, one of the premier publishing houses working between art, politics, and photography. The book is “of an era,” and you almost feel yourself being pulled into the haze of cigarette smoke and din of trains leaving the platform in early 80’s Leipzig. There is something Fassbinder about it all.
Steinmetz is an artist whose work I admire deeply. His ability to work on a specific place, adding an allure to the location and the people who live there is almost unparalleled. His portraits ooze empathy, while at the same time, his investigations of place can be read as isolated and specific. In his Berlin Pictures, you get the sense of Berlin with Steinmetz’s impassioned eye, which adds layers to the city and its citizens. Berlin is a strange place full of hinterlands, remnants of history, and it pulses with a teeming social and cultural life. It is no secret that Berlin is a place where one can lose and find themselves simultaneously. In Steinmetz’s photographs, you feel this and can read the terrain as both isolating and communal. It is a brilliant publication about a vital metropolis.