Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Greatest Photo Book Of All Time

Yeah, I know- an utterly ridiculous statement. So why not just take it as fact and be done with it? I can't prove it, you can't disprove it. Satisfied? Doesn't matter- I'm going with it...

First off, you must simply dispense your personal beliefs and preferences and accept the fact that photography reached it's intellectual and artistic zenith with B&W in the early/mid seventies, and went completely downhill after that color revolution thing of the same decade. With me so far? OK, so I lost maybe... 97.5% of the entire photo audience. Again, doesn't matter.

The book itself is relatively thin, but on the large side- I could tell it wasn't gonna be cheap, and when I opened it and saw the reproductions, I immediately thought three figures. And when I saw the box that held it... Uh-oh. Yeah, it costs $250.

Photo: John Divola

But it's a goddamn gorgeous $250! The lusciously reproduced B&W photos contained in John Divola's San Fernando Valley are deceptively quiet, contemplative- the subtle quirks and nuanced details all hint at the resident's inner lives (when they're not openly broadcasting them with direct views into the camera's lens). The newly settled residents of Bill Owens' Suburbia were gradually affixing themselves into their emerging community; these guys are already settled, they're comfortable in their own skin. After introducing its residents, Mr. Divola's photos then go on to further explore the neighborhood's flora and architecture; and it's all good- exactly what you'd expect from the world's greatest photo book (of all time).


PS-  Did I get it? Sadly, no. A little too rich for this boy's blood, but I did not return completely empty handed- I was quite happy to get Robert Voit's amazingly beautiful New Trees- a more than worthy typology of uniquely disguised cell phone towers. Ya see, this was supposed to be my now annual report from NYC, but having to address the growing needs of elderly parents, there was not much time to view (or attempt the making of) much photography while there. New York goes on as always, the poor struggle to house and feed themselves, while the rich revel in their own.

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